Tuesday, 15 June 2021

LAST week was a busy one for members with two events that were well-attended.

The “twilight” meeting at the Red Lion Hotel featured an inspiring talk from Margaret Thomas, a fund-raiser for the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.

She has been in the post for two years but her relationship with the hospice goes back 17 years to when a family member was cared for there.

She gave a brief résumé of the life of Lady Ryder, who was born in Leeds in 1924, volunteered at the age of 15 as a nursing auxiliary and was assigned to the Special Operations Executive later in the war, mainly in Poland.

By the time she was 19, she had been married and widowed and a capacity for compassion had been instilled in her.

She later married Gp Capt Leonard Cheshire.

Mrs Thomas explained that the organisation had seven hospices nationwide, as well as several neurological centres, in addition to community nurses.

She also mentioned the day therapy sessions from which her brother David had benefited and detailed the work of the family support units, the volunteer befrienders and the respite care opportunities for hard-pressed family members.

Mrs Thomas said she herself was about to enrol on the volunteer befriender training course. In addition to the 100 patients cared for in the community, there was accommodation for 12 in-patients at Nettlebed of which 67 per cent go home.

She emphasised that a hospice was “not about dying, it’s about living”.

The hospice, which had received an outstanding Care Quality Commission assessment in the last two weeks, costs £8,000 per day to run.

Mrs Thomas detailed the various fund-raising events which it undertook as well as raising the awareness of community organisations like Rotary.

Stressing that 79p in every £1 given goes to the patient, she concluded by saying that it was the happiest place she had ever worked.

She was thanked for her talk by John Grout.

On Friday afternoon, 11 club members and four guests visited the BMW Mini plant at Cowley for a guided tour.

They were impressed by the way that robots now carry out most of the building of the cars, with the final fitting on the assembly line being carried out by young humans.

They then repaired to the Chequers at Burcot, for an excellent two-course meal.

The meal was preceded by “Mini-themed entertainment” organised by Peter Thomson, the club’s president-elect, which consisted of a re-run of the iconic Mini car chase in the 1969 film The Italian Job followed by a talk by Peter’s former colleague David Markby, a former member of Maidenhead Rotary Club.

David recently returned from The Italian Job touring event charity run, when he and his friend Bob Piggin drove his 30-year-old Jaguar XJS (while most of the entrants drove Minis) through Europe to Imola.

A series of navigational events round the Italian countryside and a visit to Turin concluded in a lap of honour round the Imola racing circuit.

David and Bob personally raised £3,545 for Variety, the charity which supports sick, disabled and disadvantaged children. Club president Maria Bunina thanked David for his contribution and Peter for organising the whole afternoon.

Vice-president Barry Prior reported that an acknowledgement of the club’s donation of £740 had been received from the Shelter Box charity.

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