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