Issue No.1 January 2020.
It has been a busy Christmas season, but what a pity it ended so soon. My boast that Monday Club takes all the Bank Holidays off, but Wednesday Club continues, has not been successful this year, as both Christmas Day and New Year's Day, falling on Wednesdays prevented the Wednesday events from happening. During the previous week, Highview held parties for all resident organisations. The building had been festively decorated by the Monday Club team. The decorations had been enjoyed by all. I just called in every day during the holiday period to say thank you to Highview, to check security and to wonder why nobody was there at this festive time.
We hosted an extra party, as the Group Homes housed by Optalis wanted to have a party all together. This was not easily planned because one of the resident organisations at Highview pays to use the facilities four days a week during daytime hours. It had been agreed that Thursday 19th December could be made available and preparations were made quietly, as the residents can become very excited if they know about parties.
At 2pm on Thursday 19th December, the first minibus arrived, followed by a carer with food. The largest minibus, driven by Danny had to make several trips and with the assistance of another minibus and a couple of taxis, all 26 residents had arrived in time for tea. Highview is used to having wheelchairs, but 22 of them took a little organising. It was great. This group does not need entertaining. They enjoy all being together. The carers brought additional food and Danny organised refreshments from the kitchen. All special needs were catered for. Some had food liquidised. Others had drinks thickened. Carer Margaret had made one of her special gooey cakes bearing Christmas greetings.
Full marks to all carers. The residents were all attired in festive garments and all enjoyed the atmosphere. These disabled people can teach us so much, because some had to wait quite a long time to go home, as Danny made several trips to return them. Nobody complains. They just sit and wait patiently. It had been a very happy party. Thanks to all.
January is the time to renew membership, so with this newsletter comes the annual membership form. We have noticed that as some of our disabled friends have moved into Group Homes, many of the parents have stopped joining us. We hope that you all wish to keep in touch with us.
I have kept in touch with the family of Sir Nicholas Winton, who you all knew as our late President Nicky. I received Christmas greetings from his daughter Barbara and I thought you may be interested to know the work she is doing in memory of her father. This is an extract from her letter.
'Nicky is in my thoughts a lot as you can imagine. I am continuing to catalogue his archives and use them for educational purposes. I have formed the Sir Nicholas Winton Memorial Trust to hold his archive and artefacts for future generations and enable them to be made available for research and education. Some were loaned to Maidenhead Library over the past year and in a few weeks, some will be on show at the Imperial War Museum for their short exhibition on two people who helped in the Kindertransport.
I feel very lucky to be able to talk to people all over the country about Nicky, what he did and what it means in terms of getting out and helping others, rather than just sitting and moaning about the state of things. People respond strongly to the message and I feel Nicky would continue to approve his story being used this way. He hated talking about the past for it's own sake but was keen for people to take the message that being active in the community or helping others in need was the best way to live. That is what I try and deliver.'
Our Christmas Bazaar on 1st December was not a large gathering, but all who joined us enjoyed the opportunity to meet for refreshments and chat. We all loved Jeanette's cakes.
Healthwatch WAM tells us that they are in the process of visiting local GP Practices and Care Homes to talk to patients, residents, their families and the people who support them. They ask us to tell them about the service that you receive. They tell us that they are independent, not working for the NHS or the Care Homes and they assure us that any information given will be used anonymously in their reports. For further details see https://www.healthwatchwam.co.uk/upcoming-enter-and-view-visits
Monday Club held their Christmas party on 16th December. As usual, it was a splendid occasion with loads of food, games and jollity. The helpers turned out in full, providing sausage rolls, pork pies, cheese, many varieties of nibbles and cake in abundance. Jeanette came with her usual array of cakes and a lot of the evening was taken up with eating. The ladies from the Ladies Circle had brought many things, in fact they ended up with so many sausage rolls that a lot were stored to be used at the following Wednesday Club party. The team from this organisation provide the refreshments each week for Monday Club.
The Round Table members took a break from their carol tour and provided Father Christmas, who handed out gifts for all. The party ended with musical chairs and the disco, of course finishing as usual with the Can-Can.
Wednesday Club held their party on 18th. This is a less energetic occasion, but equally festive.
There was plenty to eat and Danny as usual dealt with the tea and coffee. Of course Jeanette arrived with her usual array of home-made cakes.
We have a new helper, who has received a great welcome. Joan is a friend from St Luke's church. She has other commitments on Wednesdays bur feels that she could come most weeks. We were also pleased to see Doreen, who used to bring her Pet's As Therapy Dog Candy. Candy has died, but Doreen still comes when she has time as a helper.
Club members did their usual puzzles while they waited for the arrival of Father Christmas. Most of us knew that it was Colin. He tells us that he has done considerable rounds this year.
All club members love a parcel and most of them take them home unopened. I always feel that they are more excited at the sight of the parcel, rather than what it contains.
Hugh's disco is an important part of the evening and now that it ends with Hokey-Cokey, there is no stopping them as all the wheelchairs are grabbed by helpers and carers, so all can take part.
It was a good evening.
Highview Toy Library held their party on Wednesday 18th. This was held before the end of the school term, so the bigger children were not there. Father Christmas came, but some of the younger children were reluctant to meet him. In the end, he got the mums to sit on his knee, with the children on their knees. They all enjoyed getting their chocolate coins. Not to be out-done, I had my turn sitting on his knee and somebody had a photo of me cuddling Father Christmas [Colin of course].
Friendly Bombs, the Drama Group will be performing 'The Nutcracker' at St Peter's Church Burnham on Tuesday 14th January at 7.30pm. All are welcome to this free performance.
We send our best wishes for good health and happiness in the New Year from all at Maidenhead Mencap.