On Thursday 6th July, Trustees from The Ray Collins Charitable Trust took thirty local elderly and vulnerable people who live in isolation on a day trip to Blenheim Palace, together with eleven volunteers.
Trustees Ray and Laura were first to arrive in Wantage Market Place. Volunteer drivers had already been dispatched to collect twenty less mobile guests.
A 49-seater coach from Walters Coaches arrived at 9.30am as more guests arrived on foot. A small group from Stirlings Elderly Care Home also joined the day trip with carers.
Ray checked guests and volunteers off his list as they arrived. Extra wheelchairs were loaded into the luggage compartment of the coach in case they were needed later in the day, along with several walking frames belonging to the guests. Once everyone was on board, the coach left the Market Place just before 10am.
When the coach arrived at Blenheim, Ray paid the entry fees for our coach party to tour the spectacular palace and fantastic gardens. Afternoon tea had also been ordered for all and had been paid for a week earlier by the Trust. The day out had cost £1,600 and was paid for by the Trust with the help of an amazing donation from Day and Night Assistance, a local firm who care for the elderly.
Ray handed everyone their tickets and told the group that tea was booked for 1.30pm in the Marlborough room. The more mobile group members split into groups and headed off to the Palace. Ray, Laura and volunteers pushed the less mobile members in wheelchairs.
The Palace tour took around ninety minutes and left everyone speechless. Stunning tapestries, paintings and national treasures filled every room. The Winston Churchill exhibition was very popular with the group, with two of the ladies providing their own insights and memories into the Churchill years bringing the tour to life even more.
After a brief look at the gardens, everyone met at the Marlborough room for a splendid afternoon tea. Fresh scones, macaroons, finger sandwiches, citrus tarts, coffee cake, citrus fancies, tea and coffee were enjoyed and devoured by all. The Trust had also arranged for gluten-free treats for three coeliac guests.
After tea groups split off to the gardens, fountains and gift shop with everyone meeting up at 4pm to catch the coach back home.
Drivers were waiting for the coach when it arrived back in Wantage. All the day trippers were very hot and tired, but all were very grateful for a wonderful day out.
“We all had the most fantastic day,” Ray said. “The weather was perfect, although some felt the heat. But everyone had a great time. The Palace tour was incredible, especially with our two very own tour guides in wheelchairs giving us a unique insight into their experiences of the war as we went around. The food was amazing as was the company and atmosphere with everyone chatting and laughing and just enjoying themselves which made the day even more special.”
Days like these are how we continue to keep “making a real difference in our community”.