Mike McKenzie - Whitehaven News

Photo credit: Mike McKenzie – Whitehaven News

So, after weeks of planning, anguishing and not quite believing it would ever happen – it happened. The Last Open Day. The very last time we’ll ever open our doors to the public. The last cake stall, the last jumble sale, the last raffle, the last … everything.

And it was a very odd sensation. On the surface, it was like any other Open Day/Christmas Fair … jolly and convivial and full of cakes and music and being hugged by people whose faces you knew, but couldn’t quite put a name to. But this time, we had an excuse for not being able to attach names to a few of the faces that appeared,  because so many of the people who came to say goodbye emerged from the mists of our past … They were people who had passed through our doors untold years ago, but who had never forgotten us and  made the journey to the Big House on the Bad Corner to say goodbye to a place that had been – and plainly still was – important to them. They came from as far afield as Lancaster and Lockerbie and they came all through the day, from before the doors opened until long after they should have closed. It was quite the most extraordinary Open Day we have ever experienced – emotionally and physically draining, but also wonderfully – albeit oddly – uplifting.

In general, we were all too busy being good hosts, feeding people, greeting people and talking to people to think TOO much about what it was we were actually doing … but at 11.00am, when the Centre stilled and Patrick (our Patron), Tim -(our Chairman) and Paul (speaking on behalf of all the Centre clients), took to the stairs to give their speeches, the mood altered. At that moment, we all remembered exactly what was happening and why.

And it was Tim – of course – who captured the mood with a perfect choice of closing words, for both the staff and the assembled friends, clients and supporters – all of whom were bidding farewell to a major part of their lives …

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sum shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~~~:~~~

The Speeches - 4

The Speeches - 3

Patrick and Gretchen

Gretchen and the Landlady ...

Harry and Louise

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Anthony P on the raffle

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Photo credit: E Penhalagan

Photo credit: E Penhalagan

Rocky

The afternoon entertainment

Paul and Gretchen

The Speeches - 5

(All photo credits – Eileen Turner – except where otherwise indicated.)

Park-and-RideIt’s almost upon us. The final act in our 25 year history …

On Saturday, March the 8th we’ll be opening our doors to the public for the final time.

In one of the hundreds of messages of support and sympathy we’ve received since the news broke (and excerpts from which will be on display at the Centre on Saturday), Chris Batten – Director of the Frances C Scott Trust in Kendal – describes choosing to close with an Open Day as “a dollop of quintessential CCC quirkery”, which sums it – and us – up fairly neatly we feel.

Doors open at 10.00am, the Met Office is promising a dry, if not fine, day and if the early indications are anything to go by, we’re going to be playing to a full house. We have people coming down from Scotland and up from the south to say their farewells – and for that reason, can we please reiterate – and emphasize – that you won’t be able to park, or even drop off people, at the Centre. We’ve organized a ‘Park and Ride’ system which will be operating from Muncaster Castle’s main car park. It will be clearly signposted. Just park at Muncaster and wait in the designated area and one of our volunteer drivers will ferry you up the hill.

At 11.00am, Centre Patron Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington will be giving a short speech, followed by the Centre Chairman Dr Tim Sowton and then a representative of the Centre’s clients – Paul Roberts.

The raffle for the wine hamper (donated by Gen2) will be running all day and will be drawn at 3.00pm (ish).

Almost everything that isn’t nailed down will be for sale (we’ve told the volunteers on the day that they’ll be perfectly safe as long as they keep moving …). Look for the little red dots with a price tag attached. If it hasn’t got a red dot, it isn’t for sale. We’re looking for buyers for furniture, office equipment, stationery, books, soft furnishings … the lot … and all proceeds will go to the Centre’s closing down costs.

It should be an … interesting day …

 

25 years poster smallSince the news of our closure became public knowledge, we’ve been receiving the most lovely letters and emails from people, along with a bunch of flowers or two.

We’d like to quote from some of the messages … keeping them reasonably anonymous, along the lines of “J Smith, Lamplugh” … but if you’re one of the people who’s written to us, and would prefer that we DIDN’T quote you, could you let us know by the beginning of March, please? Thank you nicely.

It IS very much like being dead (we’re just waiting for the first black-edged letter to turn up, mourning our demise) – but when you’re actually dead, of course, you don’t have to worry about what to do with all the STUFF you’ve accumulated in your lifetme – you can simply bequeath it to someone else so it becomes THEIR problem (heh-heh-heh …). Likewise, the paperwork doesn’t worry you. You just quietly shuffle off and the lawful relicts (or awful relics as I once accidentally called them in my legal days) are the poor sods stuck with the form filling and box-ticking.

When a charity that is also a registered company shuffles off, however …. Oh, you don’t want to know. Really, you don’t.

Speaking of the 8th of March bash … could we just point out (and EMPHASIZE, please) … that we’ll be operating a Park and Ride system from Muncaster Castle’s main car park. Our front lawn is a quagmire and we simply don’t have enough parking space for everyone we suspect is going to turn up. It’ll all be well-signposted both from the Centre and at the car park … and we’d be really, really grateful if you’d use the system, because parking anywhere near the Centre is going to be a total no-no.

Wine Hamper

LAYDEEZ AND GEN’LEMEN … Announcing, for one month only – just one month mark you – your opportunity to become the proud owner of not one, not two, not even three, but TWELVE bottles of the finest wines*, as purveyed to the Haristocracy by Messrs Fortnum and Mason of Lunnon, grocers to the Posh People. Comes with a Posh People’s basket and everything …

Tickets are £1.00 for a strip of 5 and may be purchased by comments below, emails, letters, telephone calls, messengers with forked sticks, carrier pigeons and semaphore if you can find a handy Boy Scout.

The happy (shortly to be VERY happy and probably slightly pie-eyed) winner will be announced on the 8th of March, at our anniversary/farewell bash – of which, more anon. (That means soon.)

*Donated by the amazingly generous people at GenII.

I don’t normally put the Centre Newsletter on the blog wholesale .. but in view of the occasion, I thought it was appropriate …

~~~:~~~

NEWSLETTER 54

                                                                                                              

statement by the trustees of the centre for complementary care

Issued on the 10th of January 2014.

It is with great sadness that the Trustees of the Centre for Complementary Care, Eskdale have decided to close the Centre at the

end of its current financial year, on the 31st of March 2014.This decision has not been taken lightly, but after due consideration of all the circumstances and in full consultation with the Centre’s staff.

The Centre is on course to end the 2013/2014 financial year showing an operational surplus and could therefore – in theory – continue, but we feel strongly that doing so would mean Gretchen Stevens and her staff concentrating on funding to such an extent that the core work of the Centre would inevitably suffer. It would be the antithesis of everything the Centre has represented over the last quarter of a century and we therefore believe it is both right and proper to bow out with grace, at a time and in a way of our own choosing.

What Gretchen and her staff have achieved since 1989 is – to the best of our knowledge – unique, and unlikely ever to be replicated anywhere else. The Centre has helped literally thousands of people over the years and the loss to the local community will be immeasurable.

That it happened at all is remarkable:  that it happened here in West Cumbria is little short of astonishing.

We would like to take this opportunity to say how proud we are to have been a part of the Centre’s extraordinary history and to thank Gretchen and her staff for everything they have done in the last 25 years, and wish them every success and happiness in their future lives.

~~~:~~~

So that’s it, folks. It’s all over. The end.  Except: not quite …

On Saturday the 8th of March we are opening our doors to the public for one last time. In keeping with the slightly shambolic way the Centre has always operated, (Look, it worked for 25 years, so don’t knock it …) we’re inviting friends, well-wishers (and passing strangers with nothing better to do) to come along between 10.00am and 4.00pm and remember and celebrate our twenty-five historic, remarkable and deeply unlikely years in West Cumbria. Cake and tea will – of course – feature prominently.

The star attraction is a raffle for just about the poshest, swishest and far-too-good-for-the-likes-of-us prize we have ever fielded. It’s a magnificent Fortnum and Mason hamper containing 12 bottles of first class wine. It’s been donated to the Centre by the lovely people at Gen II – even though they know we’re closing.  If you can’t make it to the Centre on the 8th, but fancy the sound of the hamper, the raffle is up and running NOW and/or you can fill in and return the form at the end of this newsletter. (Obviously, if you’re not local, you should bear in mind that 12 bottles of wine can’t just be shoved in a padded envelope …). 

And at the end, as a special bonus, you’ll have the opportunity to take home a filing cabinet, or a bookcase, or a stationery cupboard … because everything must go. We have to clear the Centre of all equipment, stationery, furniture, junk and stray dogs. It’s all for sale (well, perhaps not the dog …). Bring a trailer. Bring two.

The proceeds from the day will help us to cover the costs of closure – both the financial ones and the human ones.  Not only do we have a legal and moral responsibility to our staff and suppliers, we also need take care of our clients, many of whom will – at least initially – find life difficult without us. We have to find a way to make the final parting as gentle and non-traumatic for them as we possibly can.

~~~:~~~

 It’s been a wonderful, occasionally surreal and sometimes harrowing 25 years – and we wouldn’t change a day of it.

So many have helped us along the way that we can’t possibly name them all individually.  So to them we say simply: “Thank you.”   

But there are some people and organizations to whom we feel we owe a special debt of gratitude because they travelled with us over the rockiest of roads, bailed us out (more than once) when we were sinking fast and stood by us in our darkest moments:

The Tudor Trust:  Not only one of our earliest funders, but also one of our most steadfast and generous. They liked us because we were strange. We liked them because they were on our wavelength and because we could be completely open with them without fearing we’d send them screaming for cover.

The Cumbria Community Foundation:  The Cumbria Community Foundation, based in Dovenby, entered our lives 15 years ago and have stayed resolutely at our shoulder ever since. A truly ‘grass roots’ organization they have always understood and responded to the needs of the local community with a blessed minimum of red tape.

The Sellafield Charity Snowball: Over the last two decades (and usually over lunch), the Snowball has – with an endearingly laisser-faire attitude to the usual formalities – bought us printers, computers, shedloads of stationery and even funded the emergency purchase of a dehumidifier when the Great British Climate was doing dreadful things to both our paper stocks and the Centre Manager’s sanity.  

Drigg Low Level Waste Repository:  At the 11th hour, Dennis Thompson and the LLWR very nearly succeeded in rescuing the Centre single-handed. They came out to The Chase to see how they could help us, and Dennis immediately ‘got’ what it was we did here without any need for the usual explanations on our part (or eyes-glazing-over on the part of the listener). In the end, it was not to be – but we’ll be forever grateful for everything he and they tried to do for us.

The Dragonfly Runners:  What can we say? Forty-four ordinary, yet extraordinary, people ran 13 miles in memory of Paula Roberts, whose early death touched so many people in West Cumbria. They raised £7,500 for us – making it the single biggest and most successful fundraising event in our entire history.

 Simon and Laura Robinson:  Simon and Laura have, for a long time, been two of our unsung heroes. Simon (affectionately known as The Über-Geek) is Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of  The Foundry – an Oscar-winning computer graphics, visual effects and 3D design software company. Simon and Laura (Gretchen’s daughter – and a Patron of the Centre) played a huge role in keeping us going through some of our most difficult years, when the recession was really beginning to bite and charitable funding had all but dried up …

… As did Harry Enfield.  He just rang up one day and asked: “Are you being credit crunched?” When we answered in the affirmative, a cheque was in the post the next day.

Without fuss or fanfare, they propped us up when we stumbled, kept our hopes alive when they were fading, restored our faith in human nature and – finally – enabled us to end our twenty-five years with dignity and grace. We quite literally couldn’t have done it without them.

~~~:~~~

(1)      The boring, technical bit: Winding up a charity is frankly a bit of a logistical nightmare, but all we need you to do (apart from come to the farewell bash and buy a filing cabinet) is – if you have a standing order – cancel it sometime before the 31st of March. It isn’t a disaster if you don’t. If the bank account is still open, we’ll refund you and if it’s been closed by then, the payment will simply be bounced back to you. But cancelling it is so much tidier than either option (a) or (b). It’ll take us a while to tie up the loose ends, file the accounts and dispose of everything in accordance with the Charity Commission’s guidelines – but to all intents and purposes, the Centre will cease to exist on the 31st of March 2014. Any monies left in the charity’s bank account will go towards fulfilling our legal obligations to our staff (charities have to pay redundancy, the same as multi-national corporations …) and if, after that, there is any surplus it will be given to another local charity – by agreement with the Charity Commission – and the account will be closed.

(2)    Jumble/Christmas cards/etc: Our lives have been dominated by jumble, but – NO MORE. Thank you for everything you’ve brought to us over the years: we’ve made great use of it and it’s been an important factor in keeping us afloat … but the time has finally come to say, “Age UK/Hospice at Home/(Insert your charity of choice) Needs YOU”.

.

And that really IS it. The end of an era.

MKB/January 2014.

Statement by the Trustees of the Centre for Complementary Care

It is with great sadness that the Trustees of the Centre for Complementary Care, Eskdale have decided to close the Centre at the end of its current financial year, on the 31st of March 2014.

This decision has not been taken lightly, but after due consideration of all the circumstances and in full consultation with the Centre’s staff.

The Centre is on course to end the 2013/2014 financial year showing an operational surplus and could therefore – in theory – continue, but we feel strongly that doing so would mean Gretchen Stevens and her staff concentrating on funding to such an extent that the core work of the Centre would inevitably suffer. It would be the antithesis of everything the Centre has represented over the last quarter of a century and we therefore believe it is both right and proper to bow out with grace, at a time and in a way of our own choosing.

What Gretchen and her staff have achieved since 1989 is – to the best of our knowledge – unique, and unlikely ever to be replicated anywhere else. The Centre has helped literally thousands of people over the years and the loss to the local community will be immeasurable.

That it happened at all is remarkable:  that it happened here in West Cumbria is little short of astonishing.

We would like to take this opportunity to say how proud we are to have been a part of the Centre’s extraordinary history and to thank Gretchen and her staff for everything they have done in the last 25 years, and wish them every success and happiness in their future lives.

The Board of Trustees of the Centre for Complementary Care.
10.1.14

~~~:~~~

So that’s it, folks. The end.  Except – not quite …

On Saturday the 8th of March we are opening our doors to the public for one last time. In keeping with the slightly shambolic way the Centre has always operated, (Look – it worked for 25 years, so don’t knock it …) we’re inviting friends, well-wishers and passing strangers with nothing better to do to come along between 10.00am and 4.00pm and remember and celebrate our twenty-five historic, remarkable and deeply unlikely years in West Cumbria. Cake and tea will feature prominently.

The star attraction is raffle for just about the poshest, swishest and far-too-good-for-the-likes-of-us prize we have ever sported. It’s a magnificent Fortnum and Mason hamper containing 17 bottles of first class wine. It’s been donated to the Centre by the lovely people at Gen II – even though they know we’re closing. The proceeds from the raffle will help us to cover the costs of closure … both financial and human: fulfilling our legal and moral obligations to suppliers and employees and taking care of our clients, many of whom will, at least initially, find life difficult without us. We need to make the parting as gentle and non-traumatic for them as we possibly can.

And at the end, as a special bonus, you’ll have the opportunity to take home a filing cabinet, or a bookcase, or a stationery cupboard … because everything must go. We have to clear the Centre of all equipment, stationery, furniture, junk and stray dogs. It’s all for sale (well, except the dog …). Bring a trailer. Bring two.

MKB.

The Christmas Fair is GO … The doors are open until 3.30pm (ish). Oodles of good things – raffles, music, cakes, refreshments, gifts, cards, jewellery, books, CDs … assorted junk … What more could you want, except more cake – and we have that too …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho let Brunhilde in, then?

fAIR 1The Ghost in the Mirror. It’s probably Richard III. On the other hand, it might just be a camera flash from an incompetent photographer …

 

 

 

 

 

 

ImageOH YES IT IS … and there’s no point in you all shouting at me at once, because it won’t change anything. It’ll only make me laugh, and then you’ll get cross and I’ll laugh some more and it’ll all end in tears.

Christmas, as you will probably recall, is on the 25th of December this year, as indeed it is every year – a fact which seems to take a surprising number of people, especially the male of the species, totally by surprise.

So this is by way of a Public Service Announcement. Get your Christmas shopping in early this year. Come to our Christmas Fair, which is on Saturday the 23rd of November. It’s here, at The Big House on the Bad Corner. Doors open at 10.00am. We have gifts, cards, cakes, jewellery, white elephant, nearly new, toys, books, CDs, DVDs, crafts and decorations. There’ll be refreshments available all day, a bit of jolly festive music and we might even bung up a few fairy lights, just to show willing. We’ve also got an on-the-day raffle with some ace prizes, which will be drawn at 3.30pm (ish).

It’ll be good, honest. Do come along. Eat cake. Buy stuff. And make an old Centre Manager very happy.

5206255659_81a29eb0f0_oDragonflies first … because the news from the Dragonfly Run is absolutely and jaw-droppingly astonishing.

They have officially become our most successful ever fundraisers. As of the beginning of this week, counting it up on both hands and including the Gift Aid, they have raised over £7,000 – with more still to come.

Thank you – all of you. It’s a wonderful thing you’ve done. But then, Paula was a wonderful lady and she was surely yelling her approval from somewhere …

Simple souls next. ONE simple soul, actually. Me. I have trouble with diaries. I managed to get the date of the Christmas Fair wrong in the Parish News. Ignore the Parish News (well, not ALL of it, obviously … just the bit about the Christmas Fair). The CORRECT date is the 23RD OF NOVEMBER, not the 24th. If you turn up here on the Sunday, Gretchen will doubtless be very polite and welcoming in her jim-jams, but my life won’t be worth living on the Monday. In fact, I may have to emigrate to Scotland …

SO IT’S THE 23RD. GOT IT? EXCELLENT. THANK YOU. (AND YES, I KNOW I’M SHOUTING – IT’S BECAUSE I’M STRESSED.)

The jolly Christmas Tree is the working of HikingArtist.com as is reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.

Dragonflies together

… and we counted them all back! (There aren’t actually 44 in the picture – just as many as Paul Roberts could round up at the time …)

Dragonflies

Forty-four Dragonflies set out under unpromisingly leaden skies on Sunday, and 13.1 miles later, forty-four Dragonflies made it back in the rain … sodden but unbowed.

We’re still collecting in the money, but it’s obvious that we’re easily going to break the £5,000 barrier …

Adam N

We can’t possibly thank everyone individually (it would turn into one of the those cringingly embarrassing awards ceremonies – “And I mustn’t forget the tea lady’s cat …”), but we would like a special mention for Steph Brenan and Kate Matthews, who came up with the whole idea in the first place, Marj Watkins who not only won the prize for the most eye-catching (literally – *snigger*) pair of wings but also kept her cool when confronted by  the ITV fiilm crew, and the heroic Adam Nichol – who lugged a bucket around the course with him and ducked into every pub he spotted along the way to part the customers from their loose change. By the time he crossed the line, he was hauling his own bodyweight in dosh with him, totalling £465.

To you all – all 44 of you – THANK YOU!

(And, as a quick PS: Tadshost deserve a special mention, too … for doing such a beautiful job on the vests and t-shirts, under extreme time pressure, at a more than generous discount and getting them to us exactly when we needed them …)

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