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Andrea and a group of friends are taking part in the Keswick to Barrow Walk on May the 11th – all 40 miles of it. Up and down hills. Lots of them. On roads. Whatever the weather. Oh yes.
They’re doing it in memory of Paula, of course, and also in recognition of all the financial help we’ve received from the K2B Committee over the years – amounting to several thousands of pounds. The team will all be sporting these rather ritzy tee-shirts – so if you live anywhere along the route and spot them – do cheer them on their way.
Andrea’s immersed in training, and has so far managed a couple of 20 mile walks without too much grief although yesterday in the Centre, if I was being deeply ungenerous (Who? Me?), I’d say she was doing a passable imitation of a ruptured duck …
The major point, of course, is to raise money … and she’d be EVERSO grateful if people would sponsor her because – you know – she’s not really doing this for the fun of it. Not even in a pretty pink and white tee-shirt.
If you can spare a few pounds … she has her own page on the K2B website:
She’ll love you forever. Really. She will. And so will I. Promise.
… the one that was postponed from the 24th of March … actually happened last Sunday and, predictably, after a stretch of tolerably fine weather right up to Saturday, Sunday dawned wet, windy and thoroughly miserable.
certifiable heroic volunteers were utterly undaunted. Working on the assumption that you can only get wet once, they donned their wet weather clothing and flung themselves into the storm to battle the elements along with the weeds and the shrubs and the veggie patch:
Before they all adjourned to Mawsons in Seascale for lunch, there was a little ceremony to dedicate a memorial to Paula.
The memorial took the form of a wooden dragonfly, made by Ralf (of Silent Forest Creations), with the family’s names carved on its wings …
I went out this afternoon and took some photos of the dragonfly swooping over the sunken garden in the spring sunshine … a permanent reminder of a remarkable and lovely lady.
Just before Christmas we were approached by the regional news programme, BBC Look North, who wanted to come to the Centre to film a segment for their upcoming feature on volunteering in the area. They were particularly interested in talking to Paula and Paul Roberts.
Paula had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in the Summer of 2010 – almost literally out of the blue. She and her husband Paul – the parents of two young children – turned up on our doorstep in a state of shock having been told that her life expectancy could be measured out in months rather than years.
Together we set out on an extraordinary journey which took us to places none of us could ever have imagined on that chill late summer’s afternoon two and half years ago. They became our close friends and we became – I hope – their haven and second family.
In due course, having succeeded in beating back her illness, Paula joined our Board of Trustees and took an active and enthusiastic part in our Volunteer programme. She wrote perceptive and articulate letters of support for our funding applications, was a vocal and persuasive supporter of the Centre and became a powerful ambassador for us in the local community.
By the time the Look North film crew arrived last Wednesday however, Paula was gravely ill. She was nevertheless absolutely determined to face the cameras and tell her story.
Tell her story she did: and she was magnificent.
Within 24 hours she had been admitted to hospital, and yesterday – with Paul at her bedside – she slipped peacefully away at the age of 44.
She fought her illness with grace, humour and a splendid – even breathtaking - bloody-mindedness. The Look North interview was both her swan song and her parting gift to us.
It will be shown – with Paul’s blessing - on BBC1 between 6.30 and 7.00pm on Monday the 28th.
Rest in peace, Paula. It was truly amazing knowing you.
(Photograph: Copyright Jacqueline Moore Photography.)
The inaugural Cumbria Community Foundation and Nuclear Managerment Partners Volunteer Achievements Awards ceremony was held last night (Wednesday) at the Wave Centre in Maryport.
One of the nominees – for ‘Overcoming Adversity’ – was our very own Peter Bartlett, who’s been a volunteer at the Centre for over three years now and – in spite of multiple sclerosis – is as active and enthusiastic as any of our able-bodied volunteers (although we keep thinking the powered wheelchair could really use a few warning lights and klaxons …).
Last night – to his total astonishment and our delight – he won the Volunteer of the Year Award itself … and here he is receiving his award from Graham McKendry, General Manager at Nuclear Management Partners (photograph purloined from Cumbria Community Foundation … but I’m sure they won’t mind!):
Here’s his Certificate:
and here, most spectacularly of all, is the Award itself:
Well done, that man!
I’d like to report that the weather gods were kind to us on Saturday, but they weren’t, of course. Wind, rain, leaden skies and single-figure temperatures were the order of the day, as usual … BUT (and it’s a mahoosive ‘but’) we somehow contrived to have one of our most successful Christmas Fairs EVER.
It all started very quietly, with us moping around saying: “Nobody’s coming … They’ve had a better offer … They don’t love us any more … We should have paid for that advert in the Whitehaven News ...”. The next thing we knew, they were fighting their way through the doors. The car park was log-jammed (because between us, Brains Trust that we are, we’d contrived not to put out the “CARS THIS WAY” sign) and people were shoulder-to-shoulder in the Centre, chatting to old friends, knocking back the fruit punch by the pint, necking sausage rolls and cakes as if they didn’t expect to eat again for a week and hoovering up the bargains in the sales rooms like crazed vacuum cleaners … It was all extremely heartening, especially in view of the fact that Andrea and all our Volunteers wore themselves down to nubs organizing it and setting it all up.
The net result was a clear profit of £1,300 – which must qualify as a near miracle in the circumstances.
And the new Centre Dog? What of him? Well, Ben – predictably – was the star of the show. Every time I turned around, he was sitting on someone else’s lap being told how utterly gorgeous he was …
Oh, I’m such a GIRL … Just as bad as Gretchen, really. (Remember The Other Hat from last summer?)
But really – this is Cumbria, you know. We don’t really DO glamour. We do wellies and jeans and fingerless gloves and ‘how-many-layers-can-I-wear-and-still-move?’. So when a little bit of elegance arrives in the sodden, overcast north – I think I’m allowed to get a BIT excited about it.
So here it is: one of the star prizes in our Christmas Raffle – courtesy of the lovely and talented Judy Bentinck …
(Full details of the raffle – including all the other prizes and the cost of the tickets and how you buy them – can be found HERE.)
Phyllida Gordon-Duff-Pennington, a friend and Trustee of the Centre from its very beginnings, died peacefully at home on the 10th of May after a short illness.
She was 82, a great lady, a real trouper and an impossible act to follow. We’ll all miss her terribly.
Less than two months ago, she was helping out in the kitchen – Ascot hat and all – at a tea party organized by one of the Centre volunteers; and that’s how we’ll all remember her:
Our thoughts are with her family.