Sunday 3rd February – news news news!

Our second lunch of the year and 2019 is off to a good start for The Welbeloved Club, with lots of new faces both guests and volunteers.

Lunch this month was a delicious roast beef meal, followed by apple crumble and custard. Safe to say as always, not a lot came back! It never gets old noticing the change in noise levels once dinner is served – the hall is full of laughter and chit chat, and practically silent as soon as the plates go out. It’s a testament to the fantastic food mum and her team are creating, all made with love and proper, fresh ingredients. It makes a huge difference, especially having a decent gravy!

This month for the first time, I was able to give out a newsletter thanks to the very generous Nick Murr. Nick’s mum comes to our lunch club, and he has said on many occasions how much she enjoys coming. As a result, Nick (A creative design company owner) has so very kindly printed all of our material for us completely free of charge. When the club first launched, Nick designed our posters and printed them for free, and a year later he put my news into a booklet for everyone to enjoy. We can’t say thank you enough and really appreciate all he has done for us.

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I had a lot of news to share with our diners this month, including our decision to put the price of our lunches up. We have had such a fantastic year, and now is the right time to charge a little more for our lunches so we can continue with high standards and meet growing demand. We are still providing a two course meal with unlimited refreshments (including wine!), but will now be charging £7 rather than £5. The small increase will mean we can continue to buy more equipment, potentially provide more transport, pay for our venue hire which goes up in 6 months and much more.

It also gave me a chance to tell our guests about East Herts Lottery! As mentioned in my previous post, The Welbeloved Club is now registered with East Herts Lottery, and for just a £1 a week, you could be in with a chance of winning £25,000! Of the £1 sold for every ticket, The Welbeloved Club receive 50p, 10p goes to other causes and the remaining 40p goes to East Herts Lottery. It’s a fantastic way to support us – we are nearly at £1000 a year raised! For a small charitable group, this will go such a long way in keeping us going. For more information and to buy tickets, visit http://www.easthertslottery.co.uk!

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I have another piece of exciting news to share with you all. I was delighted to receive a letter from the Lord Lieutenant in Hertfordshire, to ask whether or not I would like to be considered for an invitation from Her Majesty The Queen to attend one of her Garden Parties in May! When I first launched the club, who could have ever imagined just a year later I could be in with a shot of actually meeting a Royal or even our Queen. I think there comes a point where I need to stop just saying ‘but I don’t do it for reward’ and actually just sit back and enjoy the wonderful gifts the club has given me in return for all the hard work.

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It was Edie’s Butterfly Appeal to receive proceeds collected at our raffle this month, and I had a lovely message from Edie’s Mum Cate to say thank you. I’m so pleased the club can give back in this way, albeit a small amount. If it hadn’t have been for all the love we have been shown this year, we wouldn’t be able to give the love back to other worthy causes. We thank everyone for continuing to support our journey and look forward to seeing you next month.

Just on a side note, as I write this I have just heard that one of my oldest friends (16 years to be precise!) has had a beautiful baby girl. She has been one of my many supporters so on behalf of us all we send huge congratulations and love!

See you on Sunday 3rd March for lunch!

East Herts Lottery – buy your tickets now!

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I’m very please to announce we have registered with a new lottery scheme – East Herts Lottery. Do you purchase lottery tickets? Could you support us in the process?

Tickets cost just £1 a week, with 50% of the price coming back to us (should you choose us as your charity). It’s a fantastic way to support local causes, and a great way to support us with just a few clicks of a button.

All of the information you need (and to buy tickets!) is here: http://www.easthertslottery.co.uk

In return you could win up to £25,000 – with a 1 in 50 chance of winning a prize!!!

Good luck, and thank you!

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Sunday 6th January – Happy New Year!

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A Happy New Year from everyone at The Welbeloved Club! 2018 saw us launch our first lunch and expand in more ways than we could have ever imagined. We have met so many wonderful people (both guests and supporters) and hope 2019 will continue to bring us success and growth.

Our first lunch of the year I have to say was somewhat quieter than Christmas. As you know, our Christmas lunch saw us launch the first Bishop’s Stortford Independent appeal, as well as host a choir from Mandeville primary, give out presents and welcome new guests and volunteers. From my point of view, it was very full on! The whole afternoon was a bit of a blur, so I was pleased to get back into our normal routine this month. On the menu was roast pork (and crackling of course!) followed by ginger sponge. Safe to say it all went down a treat, with hardly any coming back! Mum definitely got the New Year off to a great start – I have no doubt it will continue.

Providing some entertainment at our lunches has been a regular thing since our lunch back in November. It seems to go down really well and is really well received by our guests. It appears to give them something to enjoy while having a tea or coffee, and for me it means our afternoons can continue on for a little longer. This matters to me as it means our guests can essentially stay out a little longer, and don’t have to go back to an empty house so soon. We only meet once a month, so it’s really important we give our guests an experience to remember.

I was delighted to welcome Tom Ryder to come and sing a few songs at our January lunch. Tom has volunteered a few times for us and is a fantastic professional musician! Tom has made a career of his music, as well as launching his own project, ‘Retune’ last year. Retune, like us, runs once a month and hosts an array of talented musicians in an intimate gig to promote mental wellbeing. I am a huge advocate for Tom’s work and am thrilled he could join us for lunch. We had lots of guests singing along!

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I want to clear up a little confusion about a small scheme I am running this year. The Welbeloved Club had so much support last year, so I wanted 2019 to be a year of giving back to causes close to my heart. I have taken the decision to donate our raffle money each month to nine different causes and/or charities that mean something to me, and are just as deserving as us. I think there had been some confusion about giving money away from one charity to the other, or simply giving away money that people are donating to us.

To be clear, any donations that are given to The Welbeloved Club will absolutely stay with the club, and will be spent as they are intended (venue hire, equipment, ingredients etc). Money obtained on the day from guests will also be put back into the club’s account and will be spent replenishing stock and ingredients needed each month. The money in question is additional funds obtained from guests when purchasing a raffle ticket. Our guests have been told this is where their raffle money will go, so they are well within their rights to not purchase raffle tickets if they choose not to. Raffle money amounts to around £70 a month, and I feel very strongly about the decision I have made to ‘give it away’ to other causes. Many of the causes are local, who benefit our local community and have a direct link to the area. I hope this clears up some of the confusion! The causes I have chosen to support with our raffle takings are:

The Apton Centre – The Apton Centre is a meeting place for over 55s in Bishop’s Stortford. They provide a space for older people to come and join in with lots of different activities and come for lunch regularly throughout the week. Just because she doesn’t cook enough for us, Mum also cooks part time down there and has really made the scheme a success (as if there was any doubt!).

Edie’s Butterfly Appeal – Founded by local Bishop’s Stortford Wilson family, this appeal funds research into childhood Ependymoma. Sadly, Edie Wilson passed away last year, but we have such fond memories of bumping into her and her mum Cate on dog walks around the lake. The appeal is doing so many wonderful things and we want to support in memory of Edie. http://www.ediesbutterflyappeal.com

Retune – As mentioned above, Tom founded this project to put positive focus and attention on the stigma of mental health. As a sufferer of mental health problems myself, it has been a joy to see my friend Tom give life to this project, and provide a platform for fantastic unsigned musicians. We feel very proud Tom is using a combination of his experiences and talent to pull this show off each month. http://www.retune.org.uk

Rape Crisis (England and Wales) – A very topical subject at the moment, and long may it continue. Supporting this charity reflects my passion for re-education of sexual misconduct, and my support behind the #MeToo movement. Supporting this charity is personally very important to me for more reasons than I can explain. https://rapecrisis.org.uk

No Panic – As someone who battles anxiety and depression every day, No Panic is a fantastic charity that supports people going through very difficult battles. I have used their services many times, and without them I don’t know where or who I would have turned to. https://www.nopanic.org.uk

Crohn’s & Colitis UK – My bestest friend in the whole wide world has Crohn’s and I want to support this charity. I have seen first-hand how her life has been changed by this condition, and I see every day the strength she displays to fight it. Supporting this charity might one day mean they find a cure for this awful disease! https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk

Waverley Care – Mum met CEO Grant and his partner Steve on a cooking holiday many years ago, and they continue to be great friends of ours! Based in Scotland, Waverley Care provides education, prevention, testing and support to individuals living with or affected by HIV or Hepatitis C. They do fantastic work and we know personally how hard Grant works to keep this charity going, and the huge difference they make!  https://www.waverleycare.org

The Silver Line – Now, this charity was what inspired me to launch The Welbeloved Club. I saw an appeal from them a few years ago on Sport Relief, and it planted the seed. The Silverline provide a 24-hour free helpline to older people in need of some support and companionship. I volunteered a few years ago with their befriending service and can’t tell you how valuable the service is for many older people throughout the UK. https://www.thesilverline.org.uk

Dignity In Dying – Of all the nine charities, I think this is the only one where I wouldn’t expect everyone to support it. It’s very much a preference of mine, but one I understand will not be shared by everyone. Having worked in end of life care a few years ago, the topic of assisted dying has been something I am very much in favour of. This campaign fights for the rights of people who are terminally ill to end their lives on their own terms, with complete control. My intention is not to start a debate (we could be here forever!), but just to state my reasoning behind supporting such a cause. https://www.dignityindying.org.uk

I’m excited to tell you we have also registered the club with the new East Herts Lottery scheme, where ticket sales are split between East Herts and ourselves! So, the more tickets we sell, the more money we have to fund more lunches! Watch this space for more information.

A huge thank you again to all of our volunteers who honestly work so incredibly hard each month. Some travel such a long way to help us and we are so so grateful. This month has been particularly stressful, having just moved to a new house. The support has been fantastic, with me relying on our volunteers more than ever this month while I got myself in order.

 

See you on Sunday 3rd February!

Sunday 16th December – Christmas!

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Some images courtesy of The Bishop’s Stortford Independent.

It seems only right that I start this post off by saying a huge thank you to you all for a fantastic year of lunches, support and kindness. Although not being quite yet a year of lunches, the year 2018 has seen us launch our first ever Welbeloved lunch and outgrow our original venue in record speed. It has seen me personally meeting many new faces, and building relationships with local businesses, organisations and individuals, as well as learning of the incredible work other local organisations are doing to combat loneliness in our community. I can’t lie, it has been very stressful and hard at times, but that has so been outweighed by the positive impact The Welbeloved Club has had on so many people, and the support I have received in return from both friends and strangers (who are now friends!).

As many of you will know, our Christmas lunch was provided entirely by the readers of The Bishop’s Stortford Independent. The campaign was the brainchild of Editor Paul Winspear and Editorial Assistant David James, who worked tirelessly all month to ensure the campaign ran as smoothly as possible. On the night of the launch, I don’t think David got to bed until gone 3am! The pledges were coming in so frequently, it was impossible to keep up with them. When Paul first came to me with the idea, I thought it was a fantastic idea, but worried his expectations were a little ambitious. If I’m honest, I thought maybe half our shopping list would be purchased, so I was more than ready to purchase the other half. The campaign went live at 8pm and less than 15 hours later, the whole list had been pledged, with more support coming in thick and fast. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing!

Not only were people pledging items, they were also pledging raffle prizes, money, time as a volunteer and general offers of help. I was absolutely blown away! It didn’t feel right to keep turning offers away, so we decided to invite readers to buy gifts for all our members, and provide a contact so guests could thank them personally. For many, this would be the only present they would receive this Christmas, so it felt right to launch this second mini campaign. We had gifts donated from Churchfield Primary in Enfield, NKD in London, Reed Recruitment in Harlow, Coco’s Bishop’s Stortford, and much more! We had individuals buy and wrap presents themselves, and even a present from a 9 year old ‘Tyler’ from Bishop’s Stortford.

I couldn’t possibly mention everyone individually, but I just have to hold my hands up and say I was totally wrong to doubt how well the campaign would do. We had companies like Hanbury Wealth pay for our turkey, Aaron Fennell of The Marne Inn give us 12 bottles of prosecco, Coco’s Bishop’s Stortford give us lots of gifts, Waitrose hampers provided by the lovely Tracy Whitfield, money donations from individuals, people offer to wrap presents and make up hampers, the list goes on and on! Thank you everyone.

I think it’s safe to say the lunch was a huge success. The hall was alive with chat, laughter and Christmas cheer, and not a scrap was left on the plates! We even had enough mince pies to offer seconds to those who still had room! Our volunteers worked so hard yet again, with more new faces to add to the team. After dinner, guests were treated to a set of beautiful Christmas carols, sang by year 1 and 2 children at Mandeville Primary School. The children had clearly practiced and put on a great show to a room packed with people. For me, it was a lovely example of bringing different generations together, and felt very topical given the success of the recent Channel 4 show, ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’.

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After the campaign launched, I had so many people get in touch for so many different reasons, one being about starting similar ‘kindness’ projects in schools. This is definitely something I would like to look into in the future, given the bags of evidence there is out there to suggest loneliness can be rapidly reduced by bringing generations together.

As the year draws to a close, I want to wish all our supporters a very happy New Year, and thank you once again for everything you have done in keeping The Welbeloved Club going. 2019 is set to be a really exciting year, and I hope to be writing to you all this time next year as a registered UK charity, and to perhaps have expanded even further. Who knows what the future holds! I hope the club has served as an example of what can happen when you invest time (and money!) into something you feel so passionately about. It honestly can be anything – all it needs is drive and a willingness to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be for 90 lonely old folks! The point is you can make a huge difference to something or someone just by putting yourself and your initiative out there.

Happy 2019 everyone, 2018 has been a blast!

Sunday 4th November – a Sunday to remember

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Sunday 4th November saw us cater for the highest number of guests yet – 82 people! We had lots of new faces come and join us which was great to see, and lots of familiar faces with a new-found energy and commitment to making new guests feel welcome.

This month, our Armistice celebrations were made possible through a grant from East Herts Council. The grant enabled us to purchase decorations, hire a fantastic singer and give each guest a small gift from The British Legion shop. We were so fortunate to have this grant, as the scheme was so popular with many applications. I’m pleased to say it was a huge success, and probably our best lunch yet!

I think we all agreed, there was a fantastic atmosphere in the hall. There was so much happiness and joy among guests and volunteers, and you could really feel that everyone was leaving on such a high. Going forward, providing entertainment at the end of dinner is something I want to try and factor into our budget month to month!

When guests booked in this month, we asked if they could wear red, white and blue, in keeping with our Armistice theme. Everyone arrived very colourful! We were also so fortunate that one of our regular guests Charles Foster arrived wearing all his medals, including the legion d’honneur he was awarded several years ago, honouring the efforts he made for the people of France during World War ll. Our singer Diane certainly made a fuss of him, as did everyone else! Many of our guests were approaching Charles throughout the afternoon, considering it an absolute honour to meet him, and thank him for his service. Our youngest volunteer Tallulah was among those wanting to speak with Charles and had a chance to show him her own medal from the British Citizen Youth Award ceremony.

 

On the menu this month was beef cobbler, followed by ginger sponge and sauce. Can you believe, we had quite a few guests say they had never had cobbler before! As always, mum and her team of volunteers absolutely smashed it, making the savoury cheese scones from scratch, as well as the pudding and sauce. For me and definitely for mum, making our meals from scratch is something we feel strongly about. Our guests are coming for company, but they are also coming for a home cooked meal – something they now miss out on as they don’t cook for themselves anymore. Every detail of the afternoon makes for a good experience, and enjoying the food is something we strive for!

It became very clear to me when we were setting up that the expansion of the club is not slowing down. We had to make an inventory of what we had and didn’t have, and we have so far had to spend an additional £200 on more equipment and crockery, so we can continue to cater for the growing numbers! It feels now we are starting to find our rhythm each month and are now becoming a well-oiled machine. New volunteers are being guided by volunteers who have been with us from the start (they don’t need me!), and I feel everyone is made to feel welcome both as guests and as volunteers.

I need to touch on what has been happening since the 4th November, if you haven’t already seen it across our social media platforms, and in the local newspaper. Firstly, it was an absolute pleasure to hear from my secondary school, Birchwood High School. They got in touch with me to ask whether I would like to be their key note speaker at this year’s year 11 GCSE certificate ceremony. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there in person, but I was able to record a video speech, and send my Mum and my Nana in my place. It gave me a chance to tell the current year 11s all about my life up to this point, and how The Welbeloved Club even came about, and why I had the idea in the first place. It also gave me the chance to tell them what I could have done with hearing when I was their age, but to also reinforce what this is all about. Kindness. Whether it’s loneliness or something else, use your voice to make a difference.

I also had the chance to tell them all about Doris Welbeloved’s husband, Charles Thomas Welbeloved, who had an inspirational career in the military during his 30 years (and 120 days!) service.

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Secondly however, I have to talk about The Bishop’s Stortford Independent, and the incredible efforts Editor Paul and Editorial Assistant David have gone to in order to pull off our next lunch in style. I don’t quite know where to begin, all I can really say is thank you.

Paul and David came to me with the idea of launching an appeal to the Indie’s readers, to see if we could ask for pledges on items we need for our Christmas lunch on the 16th December. Long story short, the appeal went live with a shopping list of over 200 items and in less than 12 hours the whole appeal had been fulfilled. None of us could keep up with demand and I believe no other work could get done in the Indie office the next day! I don’t know what I can say that will truly reflect the level of gratitude and express just how overwhelmed we feel by the kindness extended to us.

Even though the appeal was complete, donors were still coming forward with raffle prizes, gifts for our guests, offers of help, refreshments and much more. It is more than we could ever have hoped for, and we are just so grateful for the support. I’ve said it a few times, but the 16th December will act as a Christmas Day for many of our guests. Some won’t receive many presents, and some won’t have a Christmas dinner. Thanks to all of YOU, those guests are set to have the best day ever on the 16th, and will probably be the best Christmas they have had for years.

One thing the exposure from the Indie has done is increase awareness of the club. As a result, I have been shown such kindness in the form of cards, messages, emails and offers of help. So many people have said how proud they are of me and how they hoped I felt proud of myself, and my neighbour said she hoped her daughter would grow up to be just like me. It’s probably the biggest compliment anyone could pay me, and I feel truly touched. As I said in my speech though, I don’t run the club for admiration or praise, I do it to serve as an example that if I can make a difference, literally anyone can! Imagine if everyone did something similar for a cause they felt so passionately about – what a happy world we would live in.

The 16th will see us host a Christmas lunch with a visit from Santa, gifts from Indie readers, school children from Churchfield in Enfield and now from NKD in London! We also host a school choir from Mandeville Primary School in Sawbridgeworth, new volunteers, and a short video being filmed from my friend James at HNE Media. Check back here in a month’s time for an update on how it went!

Sunday 7th October – welcome to Autumn

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As I sit here writing this now, I’m reflecting back on how far we have come in such a short space of time. The club has grown so much that I am now looking into ways of funding a small salary for me, so I can dedicate more time to the club and really give it the support it deserves. Nothing confirmed yet but watch this space!

As we returned from a break in September, it was all hands on deck for our lunch on Sunday 7th October. Lunch this month was roast pork (and crackling) followed by apple sponge, and it couldn’t have gone down better! Our poor oven is being asked to work harder than it’s ever done before so we had to chuck a few things, but we were told the sponge was the lightest they have tasted! Panic over.

As we continue to grow in numbers, the amount of food, refreshments and volunteers has had to increase too. I don’t think I will ever get used to the amount of people that have come forward each month and offered their precious time and for very little in return. My aim has always been to create an atmosphere that volunteers want to return to, because without them there would be no club. As I look around, I’m very aware our volunteers are sweating, tired and stressed – why would they want to come back! They do though, and I’m forever grateful. They always know more than me – how tables are laid, who sits where, how we arrange or monitor things, what system works best. The club has become so much about our volunteers both in and out of the kitchen. Together as a team, we are creating a warm and safe environment for just over 70 people, who ordinarily would spend the day at home alone, after having spent the whole week alone too. I’m so proud of that, and I feel so honoured to witness the friendships that are developing. The hall is never quiet. People who have never met are coming together over lunch, and breaking that dreadful wall of silence they hear too often at home.

Talking of volunteers, I’m delighted to tell you that our youngest volunteer Tallulah was awarded a British Citizen Youth Award this week, for her volunteering work at The Welbeloved Club. Tallulah is 11 years old and has recently started at the Bishop’s Stortford College. Her timetable is now 8am-5pm six days a week, so any spare time she has now is very precious. However, her commitment to The Welbeloved Club has never changed and I’m told she even wants to do more! She was presented with her medal from Diversity’s Ashley Banjo, who gave a moving speech about Tallulah and her support for the lunch club. We are so grateful for your support Tallulah, and are so proud to see how far you have come since your first club. Congratulations!

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A huge thank you to one of our volunteers Paul Brown who, without telling ANYBODY, paid for our meat this month. We are proud to be supporting our local Butcher (Stephens at Snowley) who always give us a good deal. Still though, our meat is one of our main expenses each month, so it was a huge surprise to hear it had already been paid for. Paul saved us just over £67, which means we have that money to spend on Armistice celebrations this month!

We also have to say a big thank you to Mandeville Primary School in Sawbridgeworth, who chose us as their charity/community group to support through their Harvest festival. I was absolutely blown away by the quantity of food they gave us, and so nicely packaged! The food has been divided up into food we will use for our lunches, food we can make up a hamper with for a raffle prize, and food we can donate to our local food bank. I’m happy to say the children will be coming to visit our club for our December lunch to sing some carols to our guests!

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When I get the time, it’s important I continue to look for different grants to apply for to keep us going. The small charge we obtain from guests covers our costs month to month, but it leaves us no money for the added extras like replacement of equipment, entertainment, decorations for themed months and much more. After a lengthy application, I was delighted to hear from the Hertfordshire Community Foundation to say they were awarding us £1000 for ongoing costs. This money will go such a long way in securing our future for 2019, and relaxes me somewhat as I plan for the future. It’s never been more important to secure the funding as I now see what a lifeline the club is for so many people. I’m very committed to ensuring our lunches remain at the highest standard we have set from the very beginning, and to continue accepting registration forms.

Our next lunch will see us celebrating Armistice, with local singer Diane Moore-Cowell coming to sing her ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ set. Flags at the ready! See you on the Sunday 4th November.

Sunday 26th August – a bank holiday feast

Sunday 26thAugust saw us serve our second lunch at the new venue, and what a difference a bit of forward planning (and experience) makes! Last month was understandably a bit frantic – new venue, new equipment, new everything. This time round though, the mood and environment was positively calmer and more organised thanks to our fab team.

I have to say, I personally felt it was the calmest we had been. A few of us noted it could be the weather (it was pouring down!) and I agreed to a degree, but I think we genuinely were more organised and knew what needed to be done. We are all getting into a routine now, and as well as learning more about the guests, we are learning more about how to pull off such a huge task efficiently and promptly.

The club continues to grow and grow in numbers, and I really feel we are starting to reach the ones most in need of company. Thank you to our friends at The Bishop’s Stortford Independent, The Flyer and local businesses displaying flyers, I’m getting calls each month of new people wanting to come and have lunch with us, which is great. It’s lovely for me as on the rare times I actually get to chat on the phone with them (messages are mainly left for me!), I get to have an informal chat with them first and learn all about them and ease any concerns they have about joining. I’m welcoming more and more people who are literally writing ‘no-one’ in their next of kin boxes. They now have us to call their friends, and suddenly their world is just that bit bigger.

Lunch this month was roast chicken with stuffing, potatoes and veg, followed by homemade jam roly poly! Reaping the benefits as a volunteer certainly sat well with me this month as this is my absolute favourite. Top marks to my Godmother Annabel who was on custard duties – ten or so pints of custard doesn’t seem to phase you as much as it did back in February but be warned people, don’t distract her while she’s counting!

In the background, the club continues to be embraced by people far and wide. We have had a number of funding successes with grants from Hertfordshire Community Foundation, Herts County Council, and fingers crossed the Postcode Lottery. As some of you may have seen too, The Bishop’s Stortford Bowls Club fundraised and divided their total figure between 3 very worthy causes – The Welbeloved Club being one. Raffle prizes continue to flood in, kind messages and cards of support, freebies in many forms and just a general sense of endorsement and recognition. Mandeville Primary School in Sawbridgeworth have selected The Welbeloved Club for their harvest festival collection, and are coming along to our December lunch to sing us some carols!

I drove through Bishop’s Stortford town the other afternoon, and I saw two ladies who attend The Welbeloved Club, together! Neither knew each other before joining and now here they are, wandering around the town together. It may not seem much, but this is exactly what is supposed to happen. We run only once a month, so there really is no need to wait a whole month to see your new friends. These two lovely ladies are proof what we are promoting truly does work! What’s more, it’s proof instilling just a little confidence and reassurance that you’re never too old to make new friends works a charm if you allow it to.

To date, we have 95 people on our books. It’s a phenomenal amount, and a number that just keeps growing. We can only do what we can do, but it’s further proof that something needs to change. This is just across two small towns – imagine how many more people are out there in need of some companionship. Please reach out to someone you know who may need a friend. It could be a neighbour, a friend of a friend, or simply someone you see every week in your local coffee shop. Say hello! Offer them an ear. Bake them cake, take them for lunch, drink tea. Or, give them a lift to The Welbeloved Club.

See you in October!