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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

Chairman

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!”

Our biggest donation to date!

After weeks of keeping a huge secret The Ray Collins Charitable Trust finally announced their biggest donation to date. On Thursday 4th October months of hard work, meetings, application forms, emails and phone calls came to fruition.

Trustees secured an amazing £45,000 for a brand new Fiat Ducato 17 seat specially adapted minibus with wheelchair lift and 4 removal seats and wheelchair fixings for the 108 students at Fitzwaryn School so the extra curricular activities such as day trips, swimming and horse riding can be more inclusive for all the students.Last April while delivering Easter eggs to the students at Fitzwaryn school Ray was talking to Mike Charlton who mentioned the school needed help to raise around £10,000 for a deposit for a new minibus it would then take a couple of years for the rest to be raised through another organisation. Mike also mentioned about a new business enterprise cafe area for the 6th form students to help them learn a variety life skills in catering and dealing with the public to  better equip the students for future employment. The students would plan the menus, shop for the ingredients, prepare and cook the meals and then sell them and serve in the cafe.

Ray asked if a new minibus was purchased as well as being used by the students could it potentially be used to pick up local people living in isolation so the students and local people could both benefit and learn from each other, exchanging recipes, cooking tips, culinary knowledge and even just a good chat about life over a delicious meal. Being collected by the minibus would help continue the Trusts work in the community trying to break down the cycle of loneliness that so many people find themselves stuck in, many of those living in isolation have similar mobility issues as the students so a wheelchair lift and secure wheelchair fixings would be perfect for both groups.

With the budget cuts in social care letting communities like Wantage down and the closing of Day centres and the reduction of services available, the people of Wantage will always find away to look after each other, Ray went away with the task of finding the money, a huge challenge but Ray loves a challenge!

A few weeks later Chris Medlock (VINCI) a friend of Rays mentioned the firm he worked for were looking for a local project that benefited the community. Ray straight away mentioned the minibus idea and Chris thought this would work really well. An application form was sent in. Shortly after another of Rays friends Pete Yearling (St James Place ) popped in to see him as Rays Charity had been a registered charity for a year. Pete mentioned his firm would like to help a local project especially involving children again Ray explained his idea of the minibus helping young and old. A meeting was arranged for Ray and Pete to go to St James Place Head Office quite a daunting Place with so many Ferrari’s, Bentley’s and Aston Martins in the car park Ray was well out of his comfort zone. Ray gave a presentation to the community funds manager and left feeling it went well.

A few weeks later Ray was contacted by Chris Medlock and his firm the Vinci Foundation had awarded the project £12,000 which was fantastic news, shortly after this Pete Yearling contacted Ray and confirmed that St James Place in connection with Sunshine Coaches/ The Variety Club had awarded the project £29,000 which left a shortfall of £4,000. Ray was gobsmacked by the news and arranged a meeting with his trustees who all agreed this was a unique opportunity to help dozens if not hundreds of local people over the next ten years or more, the Trustees unanimously voted to contribute the extra £4,000 so the bus could be ordered, specialised equipment fitted, sign written and delivered by the beginning of October. Ray had achieved in a couple of months what the school thought would take two years to get,  if at all and the minibus would be delivered in a few weeks time.

The unveiling was kept a secret from all the students, families, teachers only three people at Fitzwaryn knew, sixth formers, parents, sponsors and the Mayor were all invited along to a fake press launch to kick start the fundraising appeal. As Ray spoke to the crowd the minibus pulled in to the school and the keys were handed over to the Head to huge cheers and lots of emotion. To say they were surprised would be an understatement.

“A chance conversation with Mike whilst delivering Easter eggs, a chance conversation with Chris and then Pete and in just over three months we had £45,000 to buy a new minibus is just completely unbelievable. Obviously a lot of work went on behind the scenes as well and I am so grateful to Chris, Colleen and Pete for all their efforts to make this possible, we certainly couldn’t have done this so quickly without them.

We wanted to surprise the students so we kept the news a secret until today which hasn’t been easy for me as I’ve wanted to scream it from the rooftops every day. This is by far the largest donation myself or the charity have ever made and for it to be helping such a rewarding group of very special local young people and to hopefully benefit those living in isolation is truly amazing. The students at Fitzwaryn are an inspiring group of young people full of talents, kindness and compassion for each other and everyone they meet.The minibus will enable the school and the students to reach out in to the community like never before and this pioneering project could become a template for other schools. The Trust receives a lot of support from the Town Council and it’s always nice to have the Mayor present at our events and presentations.

So often timing or just pure luck plays a huge part in our lives. Personally, I believe you make your own luck, with ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance anything is possible. And that timing is everything, and you have to stay the course, believe in yourself and just keep working harder and know that, when your time comes, that it will be all the sweeter.

Today has been quite simply the sweetest and proudest day of my life! And if you were in any doubt, this is what ‘Making a real difference in our community’ is all about.”

Ray Collins

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.”

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