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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 …
This is a real learning experience, you know.
Today we have had: Turning Powerpoint Presentations into YouTube videos - and here is the result, which you may find easier to share:
The YouTube version has some added information in the ‘About’ section … explaining who we are, what we do and why it matters. We also spell out the nature and root of the problem a little more precisely.
At the risk of sounding like a scratched record, because we are truly grateful for all your efforts so far, we REALLY must get this message out to as many people as possible, and we can’t do that without your help. We’re already getting some interesting reactions and feedback and we want to keep the momentum going …
Thank you all. You’re real troupers.
We haven’t exactly been making a secret of the fact that the Centre is facing funding problems – it has, after all, been in the Whitehaven News as well as on Radio Cumbria – but neither have we been making a song and dance over it, so we thought the time had probably come for us to do what we do best (but don’t actually do that often on acccount of being nicely brought up): get a bit vocal. After all, neither Gretchen nor Yours Truly are famous for not being able to find le mot juste when needed.
Those of you who have watched the presentation I posted yesterday will now know the nature of our problem – that financial support from our friends and supporters has held up remarkably well, as has the funding from Charitable Trusts – which is nothing short of a miracle in these parlous times. It’s the funding from local industry that’s evaporated – and not just for us, lest anyone accuse us of being paranoid: the same story is being repeated over and over again across the area. Small (and not so small) charities doing excellent work with a proven track record are struggling and failing to secure the money they need to keep their doors open.
So this is the favour …
We’re NOT asking for your money, because so many of you have already contributed far more than we had any right to expect, and in any case our survival should not depend on the kindness of good people. We are actively pursuing fresh funding from other sources, but we need your help to spread the Presentation as widely as possible. There IS money out there – we all know there is, and that obscene amounts are being squandered on nothing – but we are only a small charity with a quiet voice and we need our friends to act as our amplifiers …
If you use the link below, it will open a slightly updated version of the slide show which includes details of the Centre and how to make a donation.
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 …