The sun shone on Jubilee Lodge last week as our Chigwell centre – birthplace of the charity we know and love today – celebrated its wonderful supporters and called for more local people to get behind its vital work in the region.
The Lodge threw open its doors on 2 July to the great and good of Essex, who enjoyed Pimms and nibbles in the centre’s sun-drenched courtyard.
Long-time supporter Olive Higgins, of the Essex-based Higgins Construction, came along with her sons, as did our great friend, the renowned architect Piers Gough. The wonderful Friends of Jubilee Lodge fundraising group were of course in attendance, helping us rally support for our cause.
One very special guest was Elizabeth MacKeown, who is the daughter of our Founder, the late Joan Brander MBE. Liz had made the long drive from her home just to be with us and her presence was very much appreciated.
But this was much more than a social event, as the speeches soon made clear.
Chairman Mindy Sawhney was up first, explaining that strong local support is absolutely vital in raising awareness about our work and safeguarding our centres’ future. Then came life-long supporter Anne McConnell MBE, who has been with us since the very beginning. She was moved almost to tears during a heartfelt and impassioned speech about how much Revitalise has meant to her over the years. Who could fail to be moved by such emotion?
As if to provide a live demonstration of the value of local support, four representatives from the Abridge Ladies Golfing Group came along to present us with a cheque for £23,000 towards the purchase of a new minibus for the centre, which had been raised by a single golfing event just two days earlier! It is selfless generosity such as this that enables us to keep going – and long may it continue!
Mindy Sawhney said it best:
“More important than the outstanding care, imaginative excursions and great food is what happens between people when they are here. Something really magical. Our guests, carers, volunteers and staff members feel that their stories, their individual gifts, are seen and appreciated – and they share them with one another.
“We’ve seen extraordinary friendships be kindled and rekindled, not between ‘volunteer’ and ‘guest’ or even between ‘carer’ and ‘cared for’, but between wife and husband, father and daughter – one human being and another.”
As we watched a group of Princes Trust volunteers in their matching red T-shirts, laughing and joking with the centre’s guests, taking selfies and posing for pictures in the sunshine, the zest for life that exists at the heart of Revitalise was apparent for all to see.
Surely anyone witnessing the joy we bring to the hearts of so many cannot help but become a friend?