Our first acquaintance with The Countess of Wessex was when she visited us in May 2004 after her Charity, The Wessex Youth Trust, gave us an extremely generous gift which covered the cost of purchasing a new band saw, completing the refurbishment of our Woodwork shop.
On this, her first visit, we were able to show her most of our projects, and her interest and enthusiasm was overwhelming. She agreed to have some light refreshments before moving on to further engagements in Leeds and we were able to showcase some of our own produce for her approval. All of us at Caring For Life, were profoundly impressed by the Countess, and everyone was hoping that this would not be our only encounter with this remarkable lady.
Following her visit, we were absolutely thrilled that The Countess graciously agreed to become our Patron in 2005, and in 2006 she made her second visit to us, this time as our official Patron. It was a joyous time, and again we were able to show her aspects of our work here at Caring For Life, and again those in our care and staff alike were overjoyed to have the privilege of meeting The Countess again. She offered extremely valuable advice and showed a remarkable grasp of the sort of issues with which we were struggling. The day concluded in a fund raising banquet held at Oulton Hall Hotel in Leeds. At that banquet we had a number of people agree to assist us with the building of our proposed Adult Learning and Arts Centre. Our target for the banquet of £50,000 was reached and massively surpassed with one gift of £250,000 promised from Sir Peter Vardy, a long time and generous supporter of Caring For Life.
The following year we were blessed with another visit from The Countess of Wessex and on this occasion we hosted or own ‘Royal Banquet’ in the evening. This was preceded by a small presentation where we were able to demonstrate to our Patron some of the work of our Drama and Music therapy projects, as well as involving others of those in our care in some amusing sketches orchestrated by Timothy and his CMP team.
The evening was very special and our own chef, Mark, drafted in extra help for the food preparation. Our dear friends and supporters from Salvo’s Restaurant in Headingly, Leeds, Gip and John, were of huge assistance, offering not only advice and training but acting as Maitre d’ on the day, keeping everything flowing extremely well by supervising and coordinating our wonderful band of volunteer waiters and waitresses. Serving 500 people was no small challenge, but was undertaken with great professionalism.
Our Patron asked if the sketches and presentations she had enjoyed in the evening could be performed again in the evening, convinced that all present would get a taste of the real ethos of Caring For Life through the presentations. So on her command we were delighted to have our own mini ‘Royal Command Performance’ which was appreciated by everyone.
Since these events, we have been thrilled to welcome our Patron to Caring For Life again, for the very significant event of opening our completed Adult Learning and Arts Centre.
We are extremely privileged and blessed to have this very special lady as our Patron. Her visits are of huge encouragement to all of us, and we are always deeply touched by the warmth and compassion shown to those in our care. We hope for a very long and valuable relationship with our Patron, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex.
Please then add: In recent years HRH The Countess of Wessex has kindly visited the charity each year and has offered invaluable advice to the Executive Committee of the Trust. The Countess has formally opened the brand new Butchery Project facilities, thanking Dunbia for all their involvement, and attended a lunch with a number of the charity’s beneficiaries who regularly attend daytime projects. This was an extremely exciting time for everyone present.
Most recently, The Countess viewed the stunning new Granary Restaurant and Farm Shop, meeting and encouraging the team and expressing a special thank you to donors of this project, whilst also enjoying lunch in the Restaurant. The Countess also toured the wonderful new glasshouse housing the CFL Nurseries, met and talked with those who have so kindly funded this provision and formally opened the new facility.
Each of our Patron’s visits and all her involvement are most sincerely appreciated.