Charting the story of Revitalise from humble origins over 50 years ago to the vibrant, innovative national charity we are today

The seeds of hope

The charity now known as Revitalise began life as the Winged Fellowship Trust (WFT) over five decades ago in 1963, thanks to the vision and tenacity of our Founding Trustee, Joan Brander MBE. The WFT charity grew out of an earlier organisation, Winged Fellowship, which had been founded by Lavinia Loria (later Greenbaum) as early as 1958.

The catalyst for the foundation of the WFT was the realisation that disabled people and their families were virtual prisoners in their own homes, with little prospect of even the briefest respite or the chance to indulge in even the most basic of pleasures. Joan, Lavinia and their pioneering contemporaries realised that these families were in desperate need of support – and set about providing it.

Starting out

At the outset the fledgling charity had three main objectives:

  • to provide specially designed and equipped centres where disabled people could have an enjoyable break and the opportunity to restore their wellbeing and capacity to cope;
  • to provide support for family carers – many of whom provide round the clock care for their loved ones – through these breaks;
  • to provide residential volunteering opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds in order to enrich the holiday experience of the charity’s guests.

Growing up

Joan’s passion, energy and determination that disabled people and their families should have regular access to the charity’s unique new form of respite care helped the charity grow in size, influence and stature. Revitalise now provides around 5,000 breaks and around 4,000 weeks of volunteering opportunities each year.

Coming of age

In 2004 the Winged Fellowship Trust became Vitalise to reflect our hard-earned status as a modern, dynamic and visionary charity.

We were deeply saddened by Joan Brander’s death in May 2004, aged 89. Her vision helped develop our unique social model of accessible short breaks, truly reflecting the essence of freedom and choice that she placed firmly at the centre of her work.

Moving forward

In December 2014 we began a new chapter in our story. Vitalise became Revitalise, a name which describes much better what we do and reflects the transformative effect we have on all who come in to contact with us.

By staying true to Joan’s vision, Revitalise will continue to put our guests at the very centre of all we do by the simple principle of seeing the person, not the disability. Above all, we will continue to have a life-enhancing effect on the lives of all the disabled people and carers who spend time with us through the years and decades to come.

Revitalise is now embarking on an ambitious period of growth, since we are determined to meet an ever increasing demand for our services, both now and in the future.