Sunday 7th July – Summer is here

IMG_9570.jpg

Summer is well and truly here! Our numbers are continuing to grow with more enquiries coming in now more than ever. Everyone who calls me tells me how they’ve heard ‘such wonderful things’ about the club, and as they find themselves at a loose end on a Sunday they want to give it a go. We really look forward to meeting new faces each month so please do keep getting in touch!

As mentioned in the previous post, our menu changes slightly in the summer months to work with the hotter weather. This month homemade quiche was on the menu with potatoes and salad, followed by strawberries, cream and meringue. Mum covered the fruit in strawberry sauce and a sprinkle of sugar which definitely gave it that extra kick! It proved just as popular as our normal roasts and appeared to have gone down a treat.

I’m delighted that we have more and more younger volunteers wanting to take part. Our volunteer numbers are consistently high at the moment so, although I’m not actively advertising for them, I’m pleased to accept applications on a case by case basis. We have had volunteers complete part of their Duke of Edinburgh award with us, and other volunteers keen to form bridges between that generational gap. It’s inspiring to be able to provide that platform to younger people so keep them coming!

Thank you very much to the Bishop’s Stortford Woodwind Band who came to perform a few old hits. Entertainment after lunch is always appreciated by all and gives all our guests something to enjoy during their tea and coffee. This band I believe regularly perform to similar groups around the area and always do it free of charge. We loved having them with us and hope to see them again at Christmas time.

IMG_9575

Thank you once again to our amazing volunteers who make running the club possible. Not only do we have the volunteers in the kitchen and in the hall helping to prepare, we have the volunteers who are driving to make sure the most isolated guests can still enjoy Sunday lunch with us. We have volunteers doing our laundry for us, donating equipment, stock and raffle prizes and of course, we have many loyal supporters continuing to spread the word in the community. We say thank you a lot, but it’s important we continue to recognise our wonderful helpers who have stuck by us since day one. So, THANK YOU!

Our raffle money this month went to Waverley Care, based in Edinburgh. Mum has brought two wonderful friends into my life (Steve and Grant I’m looking at you!) and we wanted to show our appreciation for the fab work Grant is doing as CEO of the charity. So, please take our donation as a contribution towards all of the support you provide families and their loved ones living with HIV and Hepatitis C.

Our next lunch is Sunday 4th August, where we welcome yet more faces to the club. See you there!

Sunday 2nd June – Remembering D-Day

IMG_9141

The Welbeloved Club is heading into summer, but showing no signs of slowing down! Our numbers remain high and we are now feeding more guests than ever. As I sit here now, I have just processed another five registration forms all from members wanting to meet new people and in need of a little companionship. We can’t wait to meet you all!

With growing numbers again comes with extra cost. We still have our fingers crossed for a grant to be spent on a new oven, and are very grateful for the continued support around the community which in turn is generating donations. We spent the sunny Saturday in Bookers wholesalers yesterday restocking on equipment and ingredients, so your donations always get spent in the right way! A big thank you to the Mick Newman and Bishop’s Stortford Golf Club who donated £320 recently from one of their senior teams. This will go a very long way!

Sunday 2nd June also meant some of our guests were marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. One guest in particular wore his medals with pride. Charles Foster (above) is a D-Day Veteran himself, having fought on the beaches of Normandy. He was awarded the legion d’honneur for his efforts 75 years ago, the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits. So, we were in the company of a true hero.

As we move into summer, we change our menu to adapt to the ever-changing seasons. Our June, July and August lunches are a little lighter, but still tastier than ever! This month guests enjoyed gammon, potato, veg and parsley sauce, followed by orange and chocolate pudding. I realise I say ‘lighter’, but on reflection that doesn’t sound light at all! Safe to say it was clean plates all round and even room for some seconds.

 

Thank you once again to our amazing volunteers who work so hard despite the heat both in the kitchen and main hall. As you all know we couldn’t do it without you and are so appreciative of your time and efforts. If you get anything out of it, hopefully it’s a happy tummy (our volunteers get lunch too)!

We were a little short on raffle prizes this month. It seems our Christmas reserves have finally run out, so we are now on the look out again for anything you kind folk can donate. The raffle is always very popular, with the money this year going to other worthy causes. This month the raffle money has been donated to Crohn’s and Colitis UK, a charity doing fantastic work in the research and support of people living with the disease. As they all do, this charity means a lot to my best pal and therefore me.

Next month we are pleased to welcome the Bishop’s Stortford Woodwind Band, who are coming to provide some entertainment to our guests while they enjoy their meringues and strawberries (and plenty of cream!).

 

As I sign off, some of you may not be aware it has recently been Loneliness Week 2019. Loneliness can be so crippling. Research suggests that around half a million older people in the UK can go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. If you know an older person who lives alone, whether it be a relative or neighbour, why not consider popping by to say hello and check they are okay. We all owe it to each other to look out for each other.

See you next month!

RB Hair Salon teams up with Welbeloved!

EXCITING NEWS!

Ahead of their new Hair Salon launch, we have teamed up with RB Hair to host ‘Chat & Blow-Dry’ mornings!

Starting on Thursday 11th July, RB Hair Salon will be opening their doors every Thursday morning between 10am-12pm to ladies who live on their own, and fancy a bit of a chat while they are pampered with a £10 blow-dry! There will also be plenty of tea and cake on offer too.

This is our first collaboration to host similar services outside of our Sunday lunch so we hope even more lonely older people can benefit from some support.

For more information and to book an appointment, visit www.rbhairsalon.com

IMG_9130

Sunday 12th May – a lunch fit for a Royal!

May proved a slightly quieter lunch for us this month, for both guest and volunteer numbers. This is by no means a bad thing – we are delighted when our guests can’t attend lunch because they have family or friends visiting. Generally, this is family they haven’t seen for a long time, so it’s something we very much promote. The hilarious comments we get though – ‘they could have visited on another weekend; I’m going to miss my favourite lunch now!’. We are so pleased to hear you enjoy your time with us so much!

 

We had lots of happy callers this month however, phoning to not only book in but express how much they are looking forward to roast pork (and crackling of course!). For many, cooking a meal for one is hard enough but generally speaking, any form of roast meat is most certainly off the menu. I was astonished to learn it had been years for some of our new guests since they last enjoyed a joint of pork from their local butchers. I’m very pleased that each month since we started, we have had the most incredible support from our local butchers at Snowley Parade – Bob and Jan. They always give us the best service and have supported us right from the start. The meat tastes all the better for it! It’s always service with a smile. We also are happy to be supporting local!!

Another huge success this month was our ‘upside-down’ pudding, with ice cream. As everyone knows Mum makes the best sponge anyway, but quite honestly not a scrap came back. There proved room for seconds and thirds of both courses, so our guests were well and truly stuffed come the end of the afternoon.

 

I’m excited to say our application to East Herts Council to purchase a new oven will be moving onto the next stage in the assessment process. A new oven as mentioned in my previous post will enable us to cook for even more hungry guests! So, we are hopeful to secure this important grant.

Despite covering our costs month to month, with the reason increase in numbers it has been quite an expensive month for us. Some equipment has needed replacing (a new water urn) and we have needed to buy more crockery to ensure everyone has a plate to eat off! We also have month to month costs like venue hire, transport and ingredients to pay for so it’s a job in itself keeping on top of our finances. We are always looking for donations and support, as well as keeping an eye out for any small community grants we may be eligible for. If you see anything, please do let us know! Information on how to support us is available on the website.

On that note, don’t forget you can support us via East Herts Lottery! For just a £1 a week, you can support us and be in with a chance of winning £25,000 in return. Visit www.easthertslottery.co.ukfor more information!

Before I sign off, I couldn’t go without talking about a recent Royal visit that happened recently…

On Tuesday 21stMay, Mum and I were invited to attend one of Her Majesty’s Garden Parties in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. I was invited for setting up The Welbeloved Club back in August 2017 and took Mum along as my guest of honour.

It was truly an absolutely incredible, surreal experience. I will never ever forget it.

Walking through the gates of Buckingham Palace and into the grounds was mind blowing – how could we be so lucky? We walked into the grounds and stood patiently with the crowd. The National Anthem then played and we were given our first glimpse of The Queen, followed closely by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We then realised where we were standing would mean we would be a matter of metres away from them once they walked down, a mistake I thought. Surely enough, after an hour, I was standing directly next to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – so close I could smell her perfume (it was lovely!). She is by the way, even more beautiful in the flesh. After switching sides, I was then just a few metres away from Her Majesty The Queen. Everyone was so graceful in the crowd, with everyone letting each other take turns in getting to the front so we could take photos.  It is something many of us could only dream of and here it was happening to me.

We then disappeared off to enjoy tea and various sandwiches and cakes provided by the Palace, all served of course on fine china. Sandwiches included cucumber and cream cheese, ham and mustard and carrot and cucumber. Sweets included carrot cake and mini strawberry choux pastries. So yummy! There was a fine brass band playing throughout the afternoon, with hits from Mary Poppins and The Great Escape. It actually made me really emotional!!

Once we left the Palace, as we waited for our lift just up the road we managed to steal a ‘private’ wave from the Duchess – she looked right at us and waved!!! It topped off what had been a truly amazing experience for us both.

 

 

It seems only fitting that our raffle money this month is going to the charity No Panic. Attending the Garden Party was never going to be entirely stress-free and easy for me, but I did it and with some help from this charity and their resources. They are a great little charity and I’m proud to support them.

Thank you everyone for your continued support, what a lucky girl I am to have you all sharing in this vision I had for The Welbeloved Club. Long may it continue!

Our chosen charity this month to receive our raffle money is No Panic, a fantastic charity supporting those with anxiety, depression and anxiety attacks. I received a lovely thank you letter from them after making the donation.

Our next lunch is a quick turnaround as we head back to the first Sunday of each month. We’ll see you on Sunday 2nd June!

Sunday 14th April – a special Easter

fc4644f9-5f98-4c19-a2bb-7f8498da813d

I can’t believe Easter is upon us! The time is passing so fast – I can’t believe we are at our fourth lunch of the year already.

Easter is an important time for us at The Welbeloved Club as like Christmas, we have many guests who are likely to be spending the occasion alone. Not everyone celebrates the Easter festivities, but we all reap the benefits – especially the long weekend! For some however, Easter just means more time on your own. Shops are closed, families and neighbours are away, and normal routines are disrupted.

Last year, nationwide charity The Silverline (who provide a 24-hour helpline for lonely older people) reported they received A CALL A MINUTE over the Easter weekend. I imagine this year was no different, with more people than ever feeling that sting of loneliness over the Spring time annual holiday.

With this in mind, we were determined to give our guests a lunch to remember and I hope we did just that. We hosted 92 guests this month – our largest number yet! We have had a further 6 people sign up so it’s time to purchase even more equipment and resources! We need to continue fundraising for vital supplies including equipment, ingredients, admin costs (older people prefer written communications!), transport, venue hire…the list goes on!

Money aside, the fact we are at capacity now each month is a testament to the hard work we are all putting in. Sure, Mum and I are doing the leg work month to month to keep the club going, but on the day it’s all down to the fantastic, generous, hardworking volunteers we have. Everything runs like clockwork on the day and the guests have a great experience from start to finish. One of our guests said, ‘it was so nice to have a room full of chatter, I don’t hear that anymore’.

I think as a team; we sometimes forget what our guests come away with. Yes, they have full bellies, probably more wine than they should and often a raffle prize or two. However, we must remember the very fact that, for 2-3 hours on the loneliest day of the week, we have provided a safe, loving, and welcoming environment for them to escape to. That alone goes beyond anything we could provide materialistically. We were delighted to see that Jean, one of our regulars, had been given a Welbeloved Club ‘gift voucher’ by her family! The voucher paid for three lunches as part of a birthday present. How wicked is that!

IMG_8552

Lunch this month was also a massive treat as it was of course, roast lamb. Many of our guests say anyway they don’t often have a hot meal anymore as it’s too much like hard work making it just for one person, but lamb is something they certainly don’t make for themselves! Our butcher Bob again did us a fantastic deal and provided the most delicious produce.

You would think a two-course meal would leave no room for extras, but you are wrong! Thanks to one of our super volunteers Felicity, our guests were also able to enjoy some homemade, personalised cupcakes to celebrate Easter. They were so yummy and beautiful; we really are so grateful. With her leftovers, Felicity took the rest into work and managed to raise a further £100 for The Welbeloved Club. Happy days! Thank you also to everyone who donated an Easter egg for our raffle, we had lots to give away!

I really must also thank our stand-in driver Jen who not only drove the bus this month but also stayed for the duration to help us out. What a lifesaver!

Behind the scenes, I have been working hard on applying for small and big grants to secure our future. With the help of work colleagues, I have submitted a grant to hopefully purchase a new oven. The new oven will enable us to provide even more lunches and who knows, even open a second club.

I also submitted a big grant in the hope I can secure a small salary for myself to again, expand the club. As you can imagine, the club has become so big I am now spending most evenings and every weekend doing admin and general outstanding tasks. I want to keep communication at the highest standard, and I want to now start networking and building relationships with the local community and schools. All of this requires time, time that I do not have while working full-time!

One of our volunteers Paul supported me with this large grant, and what a phenomenal support it has been! Not only does Paul travel back from Leicester every month to help on the day, he also worked really hard on this application. He works full-time as a University lecturer, so to find time to help me has meant the world. We won’t know until October, but fingers crossed something comes of it.

Just on a side note, I was delighted to receive my official invite from Her Majesty The Queen to attend one of her garden parties on 21stMay. The invite came with all sorts of information, and it just feels so surreal. I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be invited to Buckingham Palace for my work setting up The Welbeloved Club. It really will be one of the most special moments in my life to date!

Our raffle money this month is to Rape Crisis England and Wales, who do fantastic work in supporting victims of rape and sexual abuse. See you on 12th May for our next lunch!

Sunday 3rd March – Small acts of kindness

IMG_8174

We are three lunches in now, and 2019 is looking as busy as ever! Our March lunch was the first time we were really put to the test. Our very own cook (my lovely mum) had double booked her weekends, which meant she wouldn’t be with us on Sunday until much later! I knew this day would have to eventually come, but a year and a half in I felt much more prepared for it!

We had a lot of time to prepare, but I don’t think I was prepared for the outpouring of love and support from our amazing volunteers. This was proven when on the day, I arrived much earlier so I could ‘let everyone in’ but in fact was greeted by a car park full of volunteers! Everyone was ready to go and within minutes of me opening up, the well-oiled Welbeloved machine was in full swing. Volunteers in the kitchen were preparing, peelers were peeling, volunteers in the hall were setting up, it was truly amazing. It was in that moment that I realised this really isn’t my club anymore, it’s really now just a community and everyone’s property. It was truly humbling to look around and witness how much everyone loves and cares for the club as if it were their own, and cares so much about the success despite being a cook down. I in fact, didn’t need to be there! I’m beyond grateful – the club is in safe hands with or without me and mum and I can’t believe we are at that stage.

Has anyone ever had that weird feeling when getting married or hosting your own birthday party, you look around the room and think the majority of the people in this room all know me, but do not know each other. They would never have met if it wasn’t for me, yet they are getting on so well?! That’s how I feel at club now. The Welbeloved Club has always been about friendship, but this doesn’t have to stop at our guests. Our volunteers are making new friends, and it’s ever so clear when we are preparing in the morning. Everyone is chatting and laughing and having fun, with people they have met because of me and mum. There is so much love in the building from start to finish which defines what it means to be a part of The Welbeloved Club.

Anyway, soppiness aside! On the menu this month was a delicious roast chicken dinner, followed by bakewell slice and custard (all homemade of course!). Safe to say yet again, there really wasn’t much left! We also too had some more new faces, having heard lots about mum’s cooking and wanting to give it a try themselves. It’s thrilling to know that even after all this time, the new members signing up has not dwindled. We have on average 2-4 new members every month and are rapidly reaching capacity.

That leads me to my next bit of news. I have just completed a small grant to East Herts Council in the hope we can purchase a new oven! This will enable us to cook more food on the premises, and therefore cater for our growing numbers. The oven would be used at the hall we are currently in but will be fully portable and would be the property of The Welbeloved Club. We had lots of messages of support for this grant and received a number of endorsements from East Herts Councillors, so fingers crossed we are successful. Check back for updates!

Just before Christmas, I reached out to a charity called ‘Small Acts of Kindness’, who put together goody bags for older people to help them through the winter months and difficult times. The bags are almost like a ‘survival kit’ and have lots of useful information for people who live on their own and have a number of different needs. The charity so very kindly provided us with 80 bags, a number far greater than I asked for!! Based in Watford, two of our gorgeous volunteers (who happen to be my very good friends) went all the way over there and collected the bags for our guests. They travelled back absolutely drowning in the bags (having only travelled in a mini!) but safe to say, our guests really appreciated them. I too really appreciated the effort they went to just for me, especially as they both had to undergo a very brief unexpected safety assessment on arrival as they were going into a large warehouse. Sorry ladies! But also thank you so much.

IMG_8182

Our next lunch is Sunday 14thApril, just a week shy of Easter. The Easter holidays can be an incredibly lonely time for older people who live on their own, as the long weekend can prove even more isolating than most weekends. We hope to host an Easter lunch full of good company, laughter and love, but I hope you will join me in looking out for those most vulnerable, and perhaps offer an extra seat around your table this Easter.

Our raffle money this money went to Retune – a small CIC connecting creativity and music with positive mental wellbeing.

See you in a few weeks!

P.S. – Don’t forget you can support us via the East Herts Lottery! Details on http://www.easthertslottery.co.uk

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.

IMG_7982.jpg

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!

logo-header

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.

IMG_7983.jpg

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!

1 2 4