The Ray Collins Charitable Trust honoured by Her Majesty the Queen

The Ray Collins Charitable Trust honoured by Her Majesty the Queen

The Ray Collins Charitable Trust has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the “MBE of the Voluntary Groups” – the highest award in the voluntary sector in the UK. The award aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups that benefit their local communities.

In addition to the award the Trust have also received special recognition for our exceptional COVID response over the last fifteen months.  The Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire will present the Trust with a Certificate from Her Majesty the Queen along with a Crystal dome, with the extra engraving ‘with special recognition- COVID 19’ and specially commissioned pin badges. Two representatives of the Trust will also be invited to a Royal Garden Party in 2022.

Only registered as a Charitable Trust five and a half years ago, the Trustees were surprised by our nomination and left speechless when we received the news, we had been awarded such a prestigious award. The award reflects the positive impact we have had on our local community, especially during COVID, and through our normal charity activities; such as The Wantage Carnival, Christmas and Easter Day dinners for elderly and vulnerable adults, day trips for those living in isolation and disadvantaged families, supplying emergency appliances to those in need, supporting seriously ill and or seriously injured people of all ages.

The Trust continues to work with over 60 local organisations, businesses, schools, County, District, Town and Parish councils, charities, churches and registered community groups and has 170 volunteers who signed up and rose to the ever-changing challenges and dangers of Covid in our community.

During the last fifteen months the Trust raised £135,000, spending over £40,000 on shopping for families, supplying 1000 meals on wheels and 500 slices of cake for elderly people shielding, £12,000 on emergency electrical appliances & furniture for families hit financially or because of domestic abuse. We also donated £7,000 worth of goods and treats to all the local care homes, £1,700 on chocolate hampers for 60 local young carers, at Christmas spent £7,000 on hampers, £2131 on two Easter dinners and Christmas dinners for (70 each time) adults living in isolation and supplied 169 laptops to 7 local primary schools and King Alfred’s Academy costing £30,000 (a further 28 were supplied by a sponsor, £5,000 paid directly to King Alfred’s).

This award recognises the incredible efforts of all our volunteers who were out in all weathers shopping, delivering meals, delivering prescriptions, marshalling Flu Clinics before Christmas and every COVID vaccine clinic since January. We have played a small part in the delivery of over 20,000 vaccination jabs by the awesome clinicians at Newbury St and Church St practices at Mably Way Health Centre.  Usually, our volunteers give around 550 hours of their time a year for the trust, between March 2020- March 2021 this had risen to over 7500 hours and is still rising.

Ray Collins the Chair of the Trustees said “This a huge honour for everyone involved with charity, to receive national recognition from Her Majesty the Queen for our local charity highlights the variety and breadth of the incredible work we have done in our community over five years, hopefully this award will enable us to grow and help even more local people in ways we could never have imagined.

A massive thank you to all our volunteers including the COVID response management group who all volunteered and to my Trustees who are also all volunteers. Unity of passion and compassion is a rare gift, but it shines through in all our volunteers. They do their job with both, and that makes them genuine and dedicated volunteers, the best of the best. Our volunteers went above and beyond time and again.

Thank you all so very much for your tireless support, because of you over 2,500 people were kept safe and reassured with food, medication, kindness and compassion.

We are making a real difference in our community by encouraging local people to help local people, it doesn’t get any better than that”

Kind Regards

Ray Collins

Ray Collins BCA


June 2021.

Registered charity number 1173358.

Christmas Hampers 2019

As part of our continued efforts to provide support within the local community, we kicked off Christmas with our annual collections for the Ray Collins Charitable Trust hampers. We were overwhelmed, again, with the generosity from all of the local businesses and the wider community who helped, collected and donated items into our trolleys that were located in Sainsburys, Wantage.

We started our collections back in November and by the middle of December we had nearly all of the items that we required to pack our hampers. The Challow & Childrey Cricket Club kindly allowed us to store and pack the hampers, where we counted and packed everything from Rice and Pasta to Chocolate and Coffee! Any items that we hadn’t managed to collect, the trust were able to purchase as a result of our other fundraising events across the year.

With the help from our fantastic supporters, volunteers and the local police force, we were able to deliver hampers to our local residents in time for Christmas!!

Thank you to everyone who was able to contribute, together we are “Making a real difference in our community!”

Family day trip to the seaside

On Thursday 9th August local charity The Ray Collins Charitable Trust organised a seaside trip for twenty families from the Wantage area. Trustees Ray, Laura and Mel took 20 families including 50 very excited children with ages ranging from a few months to 17 to Southsea for a great day out.

Most of the families won’t have a holiday this year. Some have never had a holiday. Some of the children have never seen the sea.

The Trust hired a fantastic luxury 85-seat coach for £600 from Heyfordian Coaches, and arranged lunch for everyone at Mozzarella Joe’s Cafe, spending £670.

Fish and chips, pizza and chips or hotdog and chips, a drink and ice cream was enjoyed by all. The Trust organised vouchers so the families could eat when they liked and the cafe didn’t get overwhelmed. The food, portions and service were fantastic and we would highly recommend Mozzarella Joe’s if you are ever in Southsea.

“Oh, WOW!”

The families spent a lovely day together, having fun and making memories.

Some went for a dip as soon as they arrived and the water was surprisingly warm. Others toured the arcades, sat on the beach, played crazy golf and enjoyed the Funfair rides.

One young lad asked Ray, “Is that really the sea?”
When Ray replied “Yes”, the boy shrieked “Oh WOW!”

“What a fantastic seaside trip we had,” said Ray Collins afterwards. “I think the trustees had as much fun as the families.”

“Last year we took the families to Cotswold Wildlife Park. And whilst walking around I asked the children where they would like to go this year. Several children asked to go to the seaside, as they had never seen the sea. Which really surprised and saddened me.”

“So we decided there and then a seaside trip was definitely happening this year. I don’t think it matters how old or young you are. There is always something magical about going to the seaside. Add in fish and chips, and you have the perfect day.”

Coach trip to Waddesdon Manor

On Wednesday 11th July, the Ray Collins Charitable Trust organised their third annual coach trip for local people living in isolation.

The Trust hired a coach and booked tickets for a fantastic day out at Waddesdon Manor which included touring the gardens, Manor House and then afternoon tea for all.

A fantastic day for 41 local people

The coach arrived in Wantage Market Place at 9.15am, followed shortly by several drivers whom Ray had dispatched to collect the less mobile guests.

The more mobile guests walked to the Market Place and Ray checked everyone on to the coach. The Trust had borrowed several wheelchairs to help those who couldn’t manage a lot of walking, and these along with several walking frames were loaded into the coach.

Stirling’s Elderly Care were also invited and several residents plus four carers joined the trip, along with two extra carers from Day and Night Assistance.

The group enjoyed tea and coffee on arrival at Waddesdon. Then at midday the group split into two groups to tour the house. Everyone marvelled at the elegance and opulence on display in all the rooms.

The spiral staircase proved a challenge too far for the wheelchairs and quite challenging for the walkers. But most made it up the stairs to view the upper floor, bedrooms and bachelors apartments including the bedroom Winston Churchill used.

When Winston Churchill came to stay, he would request to stay in the Portico Bedroom, as he could step onto the porch roof to smoke a cigar. He was otherwise banned by Alice Rothschild from smoking anywhere else!

After viewing the house, smaller groups split off into the gardens and gift shop.

At 2.30pm everyone assembled in the restaurant ready for their afternoon tea. All the guests tucked in and really enjoyed a scrumptious tea. Delicious pea and pecorino tartlets, haddock & cheese tartlets, cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon roulade followed by macaroons, coffee cake, pecan and carrot cake, scones with jam & cream and the most beautiful panna cotta.

At 4pm the coach returned to take the group home, and a very happy but tired group arrived back in Wantage at 5.30pm. Drivers were already there ready to take everyone home.

A huge thank you to Angela Lindsay, Sarah Woodhouse, Tanja Salter, Lucy Notman plus Sarah Hill and Courtney Alexander for being amazing with all the guests.

Thank you to Russell & Jackie Stock, John Durban and Jan Taylor for driving in the morning and the evening.

Thanks also to Lee our driver from Abingdon Coaches, a great lad who was friendly and really helpful.

Feedback from our guests

“We had a wonderful day out and a lovely tea. Thank you, Mr Collins and the Trust.” ~ Mrs Johnson

“We enjoyed the beautiful house and delicious food, thank you all; we had a good time.” ~ Pam & Betty

“Thank you, Ray and all your helpers and team for another fantastic day out, I really had a lovely time.” ~ Angela

Breaking the cycle of loneliness

“I really enjoy days like today,” said Trust chairman Ray Collins. “Although they take a lot of organising and can be quite stressful on the day, we all had a lovely day out.”

“We toured a beautiful house and enjoyed a wonderful tea, made some new friends, learnt some new things and had a fun day in great company.”

“The day out cost £1600, paid from funds raised at the Wantage Carnival and other events run by the Trust. We will continue to try and break down the cycle of loneliness so many local people find themselves in. Days like today are how we keep making a real difference in our community.”

To find out how you can help us, or to donate, please get in touch.

Easter Charity Lunch 2018

Grove Rugby Club was a hive of activity on Easter Sunday, as once again they through open their doors for The Ray Collins Charitable Easter Dinner for local people living in isolation.

Volunteers set out and decorated the clubhouse the night before, ready for forty guests to enjoy a wonderful dinner.

At 10am Sunday morning, drivers left their homes wearing the Trusts purple hi-vis jackets to collect all the guests.

Phil Connolly, Jackie Nicholl and Lesley Tilbury had been at the club since 8am preparing a banquet for all.

The first guests arrived before 11am and were seated and offered tea, coffee or a soft drink.

At 12.00pm chicken & mushroom soup and a fresh crusty roll was served as the starter. All the guests cleared their bowls commenting how delicious it was.

Main course was next: roast beef, roast potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, green beans & peas, and sprouts with Yorkshire puddings and lashings of gravy. All this left at first the guests’ eyes, and then their stomachs bulging.

Desert was a wonderful apple and peach crumble with homemade custard. A few struggled to finish, but most had a very good go.

After a rest and tea & coffee, two of the Trusts youngest volunteers Owen Church (9 yrs old) and Sophia Champ (4yrs old) arrived with their mums.

Ray explained to the guests how Sophia and Owen plus mums Jenny & Lyndsey had spent all afternoon making Easter egg parcels for each guest to take home. Each parcel contained a large Easter egg, small eggs, Easter bunnies & sweets – all carefully wrapped in purple spotted cellophane and tied neatly in purple ribbon.

As the volunteers and Trustees handed out the eggs, guests remarked how wonderful they looked and how happy they were to receive them.

For many this was the only treat they received this Easter. We often forget a simple act of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine in someone’s life.

Several weeks prior to Easter, the Trust had been collecting Easter eggs in Waitrose Wantage. Over three weekends nearly 500 eggs were collected and dozens of small Easter treats.

Sainsbury’s also put out a trolley for the Trusts collection, where a further 150 were collected.

Ray and friend of the Trust Lyndsey Champ delivered eggs to Charlton Day Centre, The October Club, Grove Day Centre, Stirling’s Elderly Care Home.
Ray delivered eggs to Beatbox youth club and the Fitzwaryn School for children with disabilities.
Nearly 100 eggs went to Ronald MacDonald House and the Children’s Hospital Oxford. Far fewer than previously, due to the collection being 250 eggs less than previous years.

A massive thank you to Phil Connolly, Lesley Tilbury, Mick & Jane Rea, Duncan & Jackie Nicholl, Chris McCarthy for allowing us to use the club again, paying for all the food and creating such a wonderful meal.

Thank you to Kellie Walton, Lucy Notman and Tanja Salter for all their help on the day, and to Matthew Donaldson.

A huge thanks to all our drivers: Roddy Bedford and Giles Bedford, Russell & Jackie Stock, Mr Harvey, Katie Buckingham, John Durban, Jan Taylor and Oliver, Sarah Crayford.

We had serval no shows for various reasons such as illness & loneliness. So several dinners were delivered along with egg parcels.

All who attended went home stuffed full, happy to see their friends and very happy with their gifts. As one lady said, “Another very successful day from a very special charity.”

Fun evenings raising funds

The Ray Collins Charitable Trust held their second Blingo event at the Beacon Wantage. A fantastic evening on Friday 16th February raising funds for the people in our community.

Because of the wonderful generosity of everyone who came, we raised a sensational £2,600.

One hundred and eighty ladies enjoyed prosecco, bingo, canapés, cakes, chocolates, a raffle, photographs and glitter tattoos. And I think they quite liked the waiters as well 😉

Nine lucky ladies went home with jewellery as bingo prizes, including sparkly ring, ear studs, and a silver pendent worth £150.

Eight other lucky ladies won some amazing raffle prizes, including a Quick Fix Spa for Two at The Wellness Spa Letcombe Regis, a wonderful pamper hamper filled with lotions and creams from Marks & Spencer, plus over £100 worth of beauty vouchers, alcohol and chocolate hampers.

The Trust would like to say a massive thank you to:
Peter Casey Jewellery Boutique for once again sponsoring the event
– Present Day Cakes for donating 16 boxes of delicious treats
– Terry & Stephen Howkins for preparing 1600 canapés
– and all our waiters: Craig, Tim, Jethro, Damien, Ollie, Andrew, San and Jamie for coping magnificently with all the female attention and for working really hard for the Trust helping raise funds for local people.

Natalie Jezzard took some amazing photos and Rebecca Wright spread plenty of glitter to enhance the evening.

A big thank you to Andrew and Alex Janes, David Breakspear and Lyndsey Champ for helping set up the hall and all the fantastic staff at the Beacon who helped the night go so smoothly. Thank you Warren Brown for keeping an eye on the door.

All the Trustees worked tirelessly to put on another memorable night of fun and fundraising. Thank you Melanie Breakspear, Robert Huffnagle, Laura Beale and Kate McCormack and Matt for helping at the end.

Ray Collins really enjoyed his first go at being the Bingo caller. He’s already looking forward to next year’s edition.

The Trust’s Caribbean Quiz Night

On Friday 16th March, the Trust also held another of our fantastic Quiz Nights, the TRCCT Caribbean Quiz.

We raised an amazing £985!

But just as importantly, we had a fun-packed night with our supporters and hopefully recruited a couple of new volunteers.

Thanks again to Steve Broadley for being Quizmaster and to Terry Howkins for the fantastic food.

These events enable us to carry out our events such as day trips for the elderly living in isolation in July, and a seaside trip for deserving families in August.

To help us or donate, please contact us.

Transforming a mobility bungalow

Early January, the Ray Collins Charitable Trust were contacted by the Wantage Independent Advice Centre. They wanted to know if we could help a mother and son struggling to take advantage of a mobility bungalow that had been allocated to them.

Trustees assessed the application and voted unanimously to help out. We set aside £1600 to redecorate the bungalow and purchase necessary appliances.

Several weeks earlier, the son had slipped into a diabetic coma which starved his brain of oxygen and left him brain damaged. He has also had other medical issues, resulting in a tracheotomy which has left him prone to infections.

A long road to recovery awaits this determined 47 year old man, learning to walk and talk again. With very little in funds and little support, there was no way for them to carry out the work required on the property.

Trustees Ray and Phil joined several volunteers for an amazing week transforming an empty shell of a bungalow into a warm, clean, fresh family home.

A lovely lady and her son now have a beautiful home to aid the sons recovery and help her care for him. Hopefully all our efforts will have a positive effect on his health and recovery.

Rolling up our sleeves

Every room has had walls, ceilings, doors and woodwork painted, new flooring carpets & tiles, an amazing New York Skyline hung in the son’s bedroom and a brand new 60cm electric cooker, large fridge freezer and washer dryer installed in the kitchen.

We used water based satinwood paint to keep the paint fumes to a minimum, as the son has breathing difficulties and we didn’t want to cause any issues for him.

After the last brushstrokes and the last carpet fitted, we cleaned the house throughout with an antibacterial spray on windows, kitchen cupboards, window sills, plug sockets, and flooring and steam mopped the hallway, bathroom and kitchen flooring.

A massive thank you to Alan and Maggie Hale who started a week before, filling and sanding all the walls and woodwork and then painting all the ceilings. For a couple of pensioners they worked tirelessly with great fun, energy and enthusiasm. We can’t thank them enough.

Ray Collins, Phil Tynan of Phil’s Home Improvements, Lyndsey Champ and Crystal Hutchins joined Alan and Maggie to magnolia every room and paint all the doors and woodwork.

The mural was put up: a tricky operation made look easy by Phil. Lyndsey joined the gang again on Friday, with second and third coats added to the walls. And carpets and tiles were starting to be laid in the hall.

The final day was mainly snagging, cleaning and tidying up, as the usual suspects were joined by friend of the Trust Karen Goodchild.

Specials thanks to Andrew Ledbury, owner of Peter B Ledbury Ltd, LJ & CA Cannings and Phil Tynan of Phil’s Home Improvements.

Chris Roche, owner of Blind Interiors, very kindly donated and fitted new blinds in the kitchen and bathroom.

And with that, the keys went back to the family for them to enjoy their new home.

“I really enjoy these projects”, said Ray Collins. “Everyone benefits from them. Strangers come together and become friends through hard work, fun and banter – whilst helping amazing people who end up with an amazing home. Win! Win! Win! Roll on the next one.”

Our Christmas Dinner 2017

Christmas Day is a time for family, fun and indulgence. But for many living in isolation it’s just another day!

Well, it used to be, but not for those who live in and around Wantage. Thanks to The Ray Collins Charitable Trust, over fifty local people living in isolation spent Christmas Day together with over twenty volunteers from the Trust and Grove RFC.

After the very sad closure of the Wantage Health and Wellbeing Centre last September, Ray Collins moved the Christmas Day Dinner to Grove RFC.

All the guests were picked up between 10-11am by the Trust’s volunteer drivers and dropped off at Grove RFC. On arrival everyone was seated and volunteers brought them their beverage of choice.

A special thanks to the Harvey family, Mrs Austen and trustee Mel Breakspear who sat and chatted with our dinner guests to ease a few nerves.

At 12pm dinner was served:
– Homemade Tomato and Red Pepper soup
– Turkey and Beef Dinner with all the trimmings
– Xmas pudding or choice of sponge & custard
– Cheese & Crackers
– Tea, coffee, soft drinks and sherry

All the Grove RFC ladies who volunteered to serve our guests were fantastic, friendly and engaging. Nothing was too much trouble. Everyone went home stuffed full, happy and with huge beaming smiles.

As an added treat, all the dinner guests left with a box of chocolates kindly donated by Ultra Home Services.

After the meal Ray explained to the guests how over five cold weekends more than thirty volunteers collected 4000 items! These 22 trolley loads of goodies were donated by Waitrose customers, to make the hampers all the Trust’s Christmas dinner guests received.

Another thirty volunteers counted and sorted all the items and made the hampers: 127 in total.

Most went to individuals via the local Police team, The October Club and the dinner guests. But for the first time, twenty-five hampers went to local families.

All the guests enjoyed great food, great service, great company and a great big hamper to take home.

Musicians from the Wantage Silver Band popped along to play carols, which just added more Christmas magic to what was a perfect day.

Grove RFC players past and present turned up and carried hampers to the cars for our guests.

Afterwards, Ray Collins said, “What a totally inspiring Xmas Day we have all had at Grove Rugby Club today. This is our fourth Christmas Dinner for this amazing group of people. Thanks to Chris McCarthy, chairman of the club, and deputy Mayor Roger Williams, and all the members at the club for not only allowing us to use their club but for paying for the food and drinks along with Grove Tesco’s enabling us to keep this meal free to all the guests.”

“Everyone at The club went above and beyond today. Phil Connolly and his team of cooks worked tirelessly to produce a magnificent four course dinner.”

Testimonials from our dinner guests

“Best Christmas Dinner I’ve ever had” ~ Darren

“Delicious food and such lovely friendly people. Thank you very much, Mr Collins and all your team” ~ Iris

“I’m so full I won’t be able to move for a week. Absolutely loved the whole day. Thank you everyone involved” ~ Elizabeth.

“I’ve had a lovely day, a lovely meal and a good talk with some lovely ladies. It’s certainly better than sitting at home alone.” ~ Harry

Thank you

“It’s always a bit daunting moving venues, especially one that has served us so well. But going to Grove Rugby Club has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. I can’t wait until Easter now!” said Ray.

A huge thank you to all the wonderful drivers Will Harvey, Sarah Crayford, Giles Bedford, Roddy Bedford, John Durban, Russell Stock, Mrs Stock, Paul Belcher, Emma Ralson, Les & Jan Bury and Barry Steers for all their hard work.

A massive thank you to Day and Night Assistance, Tesco Grove, Grove RFC, Waitrose Wantage, Peter B Ledbury Ltd, Costcutter Rowes, Acorn Timber, PR Building Services, Progressive Physiotherapy and Challow & Childrey Cricket club, and all our wonderful volunteers who made this year’s dinner and hamper appeal another huge success.

Between all the individual hampers, family hampers and the dinner, nearly 300 local people’s Christmas has been significantly improved. And if that isn’t a merry Christmas, I don’t know what is!

We are here to make a real difference in our community and with your continued support we definitely do.

Cotswold Wildlife Park

On Friday 27th October, The Ray Charitable Trust took 23 disadvantaged families (86 people) on an outing to Cotswold Wildlife Park. The Trust hired a double-decker bus, paid for the entry tickets and provided lunch vouchers of £15 per person for all the group.

Ray had been in contact with local primary schools who nominated families that would benefit the most from the outing.

A beautiful day was forecast and with not a cloud in the sky but a slight chill in the air Trustees Ray Collins, Melanie Breakspear, Matthew Donaldson and Laura Beale arrived at the bus stop in Wantage Market place just before 9am. They began checking families on to the bus, while some families had arrived early and were having breakfast before eagerly boarding the bus ready for a great day out.

Once at the park, regular Trust volunteer Nigel Brady took a group photo before trustees handed each family their lunch vouchers for the day. The families then headed off into the park to spend quality time together, having fun and not having to worry about the expense of the day.

Like all the families, the trustees spent the day enjoying the park and meeting up with the families as they walked around. Nigel carried on taking some stunning pictures around the park and of the families, a selection of which you can see in this blog post.

All of the families had a fantastic day out spending quality time together as a family – a luxury they would not have been able to afford in these tough economic times.

“Today’s trip was one of my proudest days to date,” Ray Collins said. “Growing up in a low income family, holidays were quite scarce and days out provided by a local Sunday school gave us some great memories. Seeing all these families, and especially the children, enjoying themselves so much has really made the day so very special and one I’ll never forget. Seeing so many smiles on so many faces, young and old, just made it the perfect day.”

Comments from some of the children and parents:

“Best day out ever”

“All the animals are just brilliant”

“Thanks guys. My kids had a lovely day as did I. It was lovely to meet you all and you were all brilliant with the kids. It must’ve been a pain to organise, so I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving us the opportunity to go with you! What you do is so selfless and I can see you all enjoy giving to people to help them out and that’s unfortunately a rare quality nowadays!” (Daniel Metcalfe)

“Me and my son would not of been able to have this day without your kindness and hard work, cannot thank you enough. People need to follow in your footsteps I’d say and be a lot kinder. Goes a long way.” (Carrie Wilkins)

“I really loved Cotswold, thank you Ray Collins Trust”

The Trust paid all the costs of £2,600 and are planning to make this an annual event for families in need in the Wantage area. Although the destination may change, with some asking to go to the seaside next time.

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