Trust’s Christmas Dinner 2016

On Christmas Day, Trust chairman Ray Collins left home at 6.30am to meet three cooks at the Wantage Health & Wellbeing Centre. While most people were still asleep, the cooks prepped the SIX turkeys and they were put in the oven at 7am. The team then set about tackling the kilos of vegetables: parsnips, carrots, sprouts and potatoes.

The previous day Ray and several Trustees and volunteers had transformed the centre into a banquet hall fit for a king. 18 tables were dressed and decorated with gold & white table cloths, gold napkins and handmade Christmas centre pieces provided by Hazel Stanyon. Snowman cupcake holders from Waitrose also added fun and colour to the arrangements.

At 10am a fleet of volunteers drivers started collecting the lucky guests and bringing them to the centre. Each guest was greeted with a Christmas card from the Trust and seated with a drink of their choice.

At 11am a group of local folk musicians and singers led by Howard Hill played some festive favourites. The Wantage Town Mayor Steve Trinder arrived and wished everyone a very Merry Christmas and spent time talking to the guests before returning to his own Christmas festivities.

Just after midday the Wantage Silver Band popped in and treated everyone to several carols which got everyone singing along and having fun.

Forty-four people who would have spent Christmas alone, then enjoyed a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, a choice of Christmas pudding or apple pie & custard, mince pies and coffee. Then everyone was given a lift home with their Christmas hamper and box of chocolates and leftover turkey for evening supper.

The only disappointment were several people too ill to attend. With four in hospital, it put a tinge of sadness on the day. A couple of meals and hampers were delivered and hopefully the others will be well enough soon to receive theirs.

A massive thank you to all our helpers today: Tracy Wilson, Debbie Burberry, Castel Fairlie, the Harvey Family, Liz & Ken Peach, Robert Huffnagle, Chris May, Peter Williams, Les Bury and his wife, Katie Buckingham, Marie & Roy Clarke John Durban, Declan Laycock, Annette, Daniel, Jasper and Mathew Edwards, Fiona Frost, Sarah Crayford, Howard Hill and his musicians, The Wantage Silver Band who were all fantastic.

A special mention to two young ladies who were amazing and went above and beyond today: Bryony Wilson and Holly Jackson.

Both girls were completely at ease talking to the guests. They served food and drinks all day, tidied, carried hampers all with smiles on their faces and really bonded with the guests. Nothing was too much trouble. Often teens get a bad rap, but these two were exceptional today and we at the Trust are so proud of them both.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our supporters and thank you to Waitrose Wantage, Challow & Childrey Cricket Club and all of you for making this happen.

If ever there was an event that epitomises our slogan “Making a real difference in our community”, it’s this one.

Busy happy days before Christmas

The Ray Collins Charitable Trust had a very busy week leading up to Christmas. After making 120 hampers, over sixty were delivered in and around Wantage with the help of the Wantage Neighbourhood Police Team, trustees and the October Club.

On Tuesday 20th December the Trust were contacted about helping a local mum and her poorly child. Minnie Cutis’ 9-year old daughter Maria had undergone a kidney transplant when she was only 2 years old. Recently, Maria had become very unwell, rapidly losing weight and weighing less than 3 stone. Maria had been admitted to hospital in London and is hopefully on the mend.

Facing the prospect of spending Christmas Day miles away from her four brothers and sisters, and with no other family to help out, the Trust sent a special Christmas hamper packed with goodies to help both Maria and her mum enjoy the Christmas holidays wherever they spend it.

All the Trustees would like to wish Minnie and all her children a Merry Christmas. We are all hoping and praying Maria makes a full and speedy recovery.

Minnie and Maria received their hamper on Thursday evening 22nd December. They were both thrilled and touched with everyone’s generosity.

“This appeal is exactly why the trust was set up,” said Trust chairman Ray Collins, “Helping a desperate local mum facing being apart from her four other children and friends at Christmas to care for a very poorly daughter miles away was a no brainer. The Trustees didn’t hesitate to put together a huge hamper full of treats and staple foods to see Minnie and Maria through this tough time.”

Then, on Thursday 22nd December, Trustees from The Ray Collins Charitable Trust were joined by some naughty elves from Santa’s workshop. Together they delivered several hundred pounds worth of Christmas presents and Christmas food to a local family with a seriously ill parent. The Trust had raised funds the month before at our Chilli Quiz Night, to help this family get through Christmas at the toughest of times.

We purchased Christmas presents including brand new Christmas outfits for the three children aged 3, 5 and 8 as their mum would have done, Kindles, Paw Patrol toys, One Direction items, a huge turkey and all the trimmings, puddings, fruit, veg, Christmas crackers, cheese boards, biscuits, chestnuts, chocolates and much more to last through the holidays. We also hope to pay for a day trip during the holidays for the family to a venue of their choice.

We would like to thank everyone who supported our Quiz Night, including Dews Meadow Farm Shop, Peter Ledbury Ltd and KA Fitness. Thank you for enabling this wonderful family to have as enjoyable a Christmas as is possible at this extremely worrying time. Let’s hope 2017 brings them the greatest gift of all.

Special trip to Isle of Wight

On Saturday 10th December trustees from The Ray Collins Charitable Trust travelled to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. A 168-mile round trip to make one of their proudest donations to date.

We visited the Caring Cancer Trust to deliver over £2,000 worth of musical instruments and art materials in memory of Wantage’s most inspirational teenager, Maisie Norton, who died of cancer in October 2015.

The trustees wanted to do something very special in Maisie’s memory and to be able to help and inspire other children fighting cancer the way Maisie did, and put smiles on faces as wide as Maisie’s beautiful smile.

Healing Holidays

The Caring Cancer Trust provide escorted Healing Holidays of Adventure for children recovering from cancer. They help the children regain their self-confidence and re-ignite their passion for life after the trauma and suffering caused by their illness.

As we all know, the Trust is happy to donate funds but we prefer to do something tangible with the funds we raise. So we contacted Ian MacWatt, Trustee and Hon. Secretary of the CCT to discuss our donation.

Ian mentioned their desire to do more art and music workshops and went on to explain the huge benefits to the children the workshops provided.

“I can’t tell you what this does for Caring Cancer Trust. Until now the art and music tutors have had to fill their cars to the brim with equipment before reaching us, which over the past two years has cost them a lot of money.

“Now we can equip our Healing Holiday workshops ourselves and indeed do other shorter local weekend workshops for children with cancer with tutors from the local schools, merely adding those art materials and numerous instruments which have been used and need replacing; paper, brushes, paint tubes, etc will make a massive difference to all involved.

“I know Maisie would be very proud.”

Smiles all round

It was both inspiring and informative to meet and learn more about CCT and how big a difference this donation will make to the children coming to the trust next year.

And it was priceless to see Ian MacWatt (Hon Secretary), Chris Ody (Chairman) and Amy MacWatt (Shop Manager) being left speechless with the amount of equipment we left them.

Chris insisted on treating us all to lunch, and a carvery at their local was very well received.

And it was great to catch up with Brian Baggott, a Wantage local living on the Isle of Wight these days and no mean fundraiser himself.

“It was also a real pleasure spending quality time with quality friends: Phil Tynan, Sarah Lewis Tynan, Tracy Wilson, Laura Beale and Kate McCormack were all amazing, great fun and even better company,” said Ray Collins.

What we donated

The Ray Collins Charitable Trust donated:

12 water Colour paint sets
12 acrylic paint sets
12 water colour paper pads
12 brush sets
12 drawing pencil packs
20 rubbers
10 easels
12 charcoal sets
12 sketch pads
3 acoustic guitars
1 bass guitar and amp
2 keyboards
1 five-piece starter drum kit plus covers & stool
3 ukuleles
1 electric guitar & amp
1 pink electric guitar & amp (will be decorated with butterfly stickers by the children who use it)

All of this will help the CCT with their new Create2Go Art and Music workshop programme, which provides a unique inspirational opportunity for children whose budding creative talents have been shackled by their cancer and trauma of surgery, lengthy and sometimes ongoing treatment.

The Caring Cancer Trust

They currently take children to Jersey and the idyllic old fishing port of Gorey, dominated by the imposing medieval Mont Orgueil Castle.

Under the inspirational guidance of Johnny Midnight and Tom, who put down his electric guitar and drumsticks to devote his life to research at the Viral Oncology Research Laboratories, Manchester University, they re-awaken children’s innate creative curiosity and help them to unleash their burgeoning artistic talent.

Two youngsters whom they have helped in recent years are now studying Art and Music at college and they hope that many more will discover a creative path to fulfilment and success.

When not painting and making music, they take time off to go sand-yachting, swim, explore the historic heritage of Jersey, and make a date with Durrell’s animals at the famed Durrell Wildlife Conservation Park.

In proud memory of Maisie Norton

“We are so proud to honour Maisie’s memory. It’s a blessing and a privilege to be able to help more children fighting cancer, to inspire them, to release hidden talents, nurture their creativity and to bring out confidence, joy, peace, tranquillity and harmony to their lives, at what must be a truly terrifying and uncertain time.

“Hopefully a special angel will be smiling down on all of us tomorrow. We all really hope Maisie would be very proud,” said Ray.

Record-breaking hamper appeal

We have finished collecting items in Waitrose for the Christmas hampers that we will donate to elderly people living in isolation and those in need in our community.

In total, 19 trolley loads with 3,350 items have been donated! That’s 600 items more than last year.

Most popular were soup (500 tins), crisps (347), tinned fish (226), Xmas puddings (175), biscuits (164), tinned fruit (136), crackers for cheese (129) and tea (147).

16 volunteers helped with collecting, and 18 people helped counting and recording items. A massive thank you to all of you!

Huge thanks to the hundreds of shoppers at Waitrose Wantage, whose generosity and kindness has been overwhelming at times.

Thank you as well to all the Waitrose staff, for looking after our volunteers.

And huge thanks to all at Challow & Childrey Cricket Club, for storing everything and for being so helpful unloading and helping out.

A huge thank you to all the fantastic companies and several anonymous donations who have supported our Christmas hamper appeal so far:

Peter B Ledbury Ltd
Day and Night Assistance
The Duplication Centre
Chapman and Co
TSB Wantage
Laura’s Hair at Home
Rowes Costcutter
and Changing Lives
… to name a few.

A simple act of kindness can make a huge difference and is never wasted.

Now the hard work really starts, with 120 Christmas hampers to make up!

We have purchased:
400m of wrapping paper
200m of snowflake cellophane
5000g of shredded paper
120 hamper boxes
120 bows
500m of ribbon
120 Christmas cards
10 pairs of scissors
6 sellotape dispensers and packing tape

All ready to start the mammoth job of making 120 hampers on Sunday 4 December.

A busy day with happy faces

Trustees from The Ray Collins Charitable Trust had a busy day on Thursday 24th November helping two great causes.

First Ray Collins, Matthew Donaldson, Tracy Wilson, Laura Beale and Wantage Town Mayor Steve Trinder arrived at King Alfred’s East site to visit students at Beatbox Youth Club. The club is run by volunteers from Sweatbox, for children with learning difficulties and disabilities.

This year’s annual pantomime trip was going to be cancelled due to lack of funds. So Georgina Hicks who helps run Beatbox, applied to our Trust to see if we could help.

The trustees were in complete agreement and didn’t hesitate to fund the trip for twenty-five children and carers. The Trust presented Beatbox £750 to pay for the coach hire, theatre tickets and pizza and ice cream for all.

“All of the children were so excited that their panto trip was now going ahead,” said Ray. “There were lots of smiles on faces, as well as lots of high fives. We were so pleased to be able to help this wonderful youth club who do such great work with all these fantastic students and enable this trip to go ahead.”

Cancer Research

The Trustees and the Mayor then moved on to the Cancer Research shop in Wantage, where we were joined by the team from Specsavers, sponsors of this year’s Race for Life, to present shop manager Debbie Jackson a cheque from this year’s Race for Life and other fundraising events.

Ray presented a cheque for £5,000 which will stay in Oxfordshire and be used for pioneering and vital research to keep up the fight against this awful disease.

“Everyone at the Trust is so very proud to be able to give such a huge sum of money to such a worthy cause,” Ray said. “Far too many people are still losing their own battles with cancer, as we know all to well. In Wantage some of the very best have left us too soon. We must keep up the research to give everyone who is fighting, the gift of hope. Because when you are staring into the darkness of cancer, sometimes hope is all you have.”

Kitchen equipment and medical kit

Trustees from The Ray Collins Charitable Trust have been very busy in the last few months. And we’re now preparing to make several donations to our chosen causes for this year.

The October Club in Wantage received £830 worth of kitchen equipment, helping them provide and prepare good quality hot food for Alzheimer sufferers in the area.

Chef Terry Frankum said, “It was fantastic to receive the new equipment paid for by the The Ray Collins Charitable Trust. It’s such a great donation, especially at a time when budgets are being tightened for all elderly centres.”

Medical kit for the First Responders

And on Sunday 23rd October the Trustees donated a full set of medical equipment to the Wantage Community First Responders.

The kit includes an External Automated Defibrillator (EAD), airways, resuscitation aids, masks, suction unit, pulse oximeter, oxygen and trauma packs.

The medical kit costs £2000 and enables another responder to respond to serious medical call-outs in our community.

“I’m sure many people have heard of the First Responders, and maybe even relied on them at least once. I know my family has,” Ray said.

“What people don’t know is all the responders are volunteers. They are given a T-shirt and a pager. Everything else they use or wear, they have to fundraise for themselves. I am thrilled we were able to donate the full set of kit to this fantastic group of men and women who out are saving lives in our community! And we look forward to working with them in the future.”

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