On July 4th we held our AGM. We were honoured that The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading, Councillor Paul Woodward joined us.
Ruth Perkins as Chair welcomed everyone and gave a report on the work of the charity over the past year. She said we had managed to provide toys or an Outing to more families than ever before and commented on the changes that the committee has had to accommodate over the last 20 years not just in terms of numbers of families that we support but also in terms of technology, social media and new laws and regulations to which we must abide.
All this means building a committee with diverse skills and knowledge ranging from Project Management to IT to Tombola preparation to Social Media to Charity Law and Governance and everything in between. Luckily we have managed to recruit an excellent team that cover most things.
David Berry reported that we had managed to spend slightly less that our income over the past year which is always good! We have a healthy bank balance but all of this is earmarked for spending on the Outings and Expenses over the next few months so we will need to raise more funds for next year's outings.
Officers, existing and new committee members were voted in and the formal meeting was closed.
This was followed by a social hour enjoying refreshments provided by the committee.
June 29th was Armed Forces day and was also the hottest day of the year and perhaps one of the hottest days ever in Reading!
The Mayor had organised a celebration of our Armed Forces in Forbury Gardens and we had a stall to spread the word about what we do.
We had a prime spot next to the grandstand and were entertained all day with music - everything from Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields, to the Beatles and more classical numbers.
We raised some money with our lollipop game and handed out many leaflets. And indulged in an ice cream - or two!
Another fun filled day at Winnersh Fete.
Despite strong winds and occasional showers, it was another successful event. We had a tombola, lolly competition as well as some items for sale.
It's always a pleasure to hear peoples excitement at winning a prize, especially when it is something they wanted. They always appreciate the quality of the items.
The picture shows some committee members sporting our new t-shirts.
Today we put smiles on children's faces!
Smiles of excitement as they journeyed on the coach. Smiles of recognition when they met up with their friends. Smiles of awe while stroking the farm animals. Smiles of glee splashing about in the pool. Giggles aplenty at the magician. Even the ice-cream smeared mouths could not hide the beaming smiles!
And it was not just the children who smiled. The parents and carers were unanimous in expressing their pleasure at having the opportunity to join in with all the fun that Camp Mohawk has to offer. One Mum told us that the day had restored her belief that there is kindness in the world. What an honour.
The wonderful, kind, patient, fun-loving staff at Camp Mohawk ensured a truly memorable experience for everyone. It was delightful to see the children running freely and exploring in the woodland environment. Their joy in all the different experiences offered was uplifting.
Reading Family Aid also provided additional activities. The mobile farm Basil and Crew gave the children chance to engage with rabbits, ducks, lambs, kids and a giant tortoise (to name but a few). Uncle Charlie had the children chuckling away with his antics. And the ice-cream man ensured a sweet end to the proceedings.
I must thank Sallie and Roz (first rate coach monitor) from the outings committee for their support in planning the event and on the day. Thanks to Tracey and Liz for joining in the fun. And thank you to all the committee for their unique roles in making this happen.
And a great big thank you to our partner agencies who found the families who smiled all day long.
On Monday 20th May we received the very exciting news that we had been selected as one of the Mayor's charities for this year. This means that we will benefit from the Mayor's charity fundraising during his year in office and his support at any events that we hold.
Ruth and Wendy attended the Council AGM and the Mayor Making ceremony. In his speech the Mayor, Cllr Paul Woodward, said that he chose us because of the help we provide to the many disadvantaged families in Reading. He said that it is astonishing to understand that despite Reading being one of the seemingly most affluent towns in the country, there is so much deprivation to be found, with about a quarter of Reading's children living in poverty.
In the pictures, the Mayor making his speech and Ruth and Wendy (sporting their t-shirts with the new RFA logo!) are with the Mayor and Matt Rodda, Reading East MP.
On a reasonably dry day on May 11th we had a stall at the Forbury Fiesta which was the first day of the children's Festival. Wendy, Roz and Jaime manned the stall with the lollipop game and a lucky dip and Jaime did some face painting. Only one torrential downpour for a few minutes.
Wendy can be seen sporting our new t-shirts with our new logo and also Jaime painted the logo on Wendy's face!
We managed to raise £110 and hopefully spread the word on what we do and our new logo.
Last weekend we were at Earley Green Fair, and what a day it was! All our volunteers worked extremely hard and managed to raise a whopping £1,002.46! A record for Reading Family Aid 🎉
It was another gloriously warm and sunny day which really brought in the crowds. We had our usual 3 slots and with the help of two large gazebos and a very big tree we were luckily under the shade most of the time.
We were pleased that most of the children's jigsaws, games, toys and books, all the tombola tickets, all the jams and chutneys, a great deal of bric-a-brac and most of the books were sold. We also sold a number of raffle tickets - fantastic!
Huge thanks to everyone that supported us. The proceeds will go towards next year's outings.
Also a reminder that we are still selling raffle tickets with some great prizes up for grabs! Tickets are just £1 each and can be bought by calling 07930 033413 or emailing Reading Family Aid on firstname.lastname@example.org
We are delighted to say that our annual Summer Outing was thoroughly enjoyed by all the families and volunteers who came along.
The lovely sunny weather, that we had been having for weeks continued, though we had made contingency plans for families to use the exciting activities of Rock Reef, in case the heat wave broke before our visit.
We had a bit of a blip when one of the coaches broke down on the M3, but we all arrived safely in time to enjoy the perfect ‘seaside day’. The temperature and light breeze provided the ideal conditions to build sandcastles, paddle or swim, eat ice cream and or just sit on the Pier and relax.
Many of the families also tried the climbing walls, pier cave and vertical drop slide, Mums and Dads being encouraged by their children to have a go as well, with varying degrees of enjoyment/fear!
We received some lovely feedback, one saying that for two of the families, including the Mums, it was the first time that they had ever seen the sea, and talked of their excitement at jumping in the waves.
It seemed that our reminders about sun cream and hats were heeded as families climbed aboard the coaches for the return journey, tired but happy and not sun burnt 😊
Your continued support allows us to make memories like these for disadvantaged families in your area.
June 16th was a bright but breezy day for the annual Winnersh Summer Fete.
We had two stalls where we had a Tombola and children's lollipop game and we sold lots of gorgeous brand new soft toys and of course raffle tickets.
It was very well attended and we raised £399 in total.
On a glorious sunny afternoon on June 1st, we had a tea party to celebrate the 90th birthday of our longest serving committee member, Vera Box (on the left in the photo below). Vera has been involved in Reading Family Aid since the 1970s, so at least 40 years!
Joining Vera in her celebration was her husband Don, who has also been involved for many years since he retired nearly 30 years ago, current committee members and also two special guests: Christine Bland who worked with Vera at Katesgrove House and was involved with RFA going back to the late 60s and Joe Wise, who was the deputy editor of The Reading Chronicle in the late 1990s and early 2000s and was instrumental in spreading the word of the Toy Appeal far and wide. He worked with Vera and Don at that time when Vera was Chair.
The committee presented Vera with a card and flowers and we all sang Happy Birthday as the birthday cake was brought in.
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