The annual general meeting of Elizabeth House was held in July. Chairman Chris Harris announced that the Cookham day centre for independent senior citizens had enjoyed another successful year.
“In 2017-2018 we embarked on an ambitious programme of works that included replacing the lift and boilers, and completely renovating the day room: installing air-conditioning, lighting and audio visual equipment. The cost was partly funded by grants, bequests and donations from the Cookham Festival and the Cookham Bridge Rotary Club, topped up from our own funds.
“We are now well placed to move forward, with a well-maintained building and a contemporary interior that fully meets our practical daily needs.
Chris thanked the staff and the superb team of volunteers “who make this place ‘hum’ every day, contributing to a warm, happy, caring and enjoyable environment”.
Lady Aurelia Young, president of Elizabeth House, presented certificates to former trustees with more than five years’ service and badges to the volunteers.
A coachload of members of Elizabeth House and helpers enjoyed a splendid day out at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, thanks to the generosity of a local benefactor.
Their first stop was the excellent café in the Visitor Centre for refreshments and home made cakes and they later returned for a buffet lunch.
There was plenty to see across the extensive site. Amongst the attractions was a Travelling Post Office where they could learn about the Great Train Robbery which took place nearby in 1963 and sort envelopes under expert guidance.
By common consent the highlight was a short steam train ride – as Elizabeth House manager Miriam Blazey had arranged the visit on a ‘steaming day’. Riding in old fashioned railway carriages with a corridor certainly brought memories flooding back!
Regular quizmaster John Sykes put the general knowledge of Elizabeth House supporters to the test with his challenging and well-researched questions. Trustee Jill Cruse and helpers cooked and served a delicious meal and Bernadette Clark (pictured) sold raffle tickets on the night. This fundraising event raised over £1,625 for Cookham’s much loved day centre.
The Co-op last year donated over £5,000 from their Local Community Fund to Elizabeth House.
“This funding had to be for a community project rather than specifically for Elizabeth House members”, explains manager Miriam Blazey. “We noticed that many people sat on the bench outside in the sunshine but this is now 16 years old!
“With the Co-op money we have replaced the seating with benches made from recycled plastic, added new entrance and exit signs and are waiting for another bench, new planters, a bird feeder and some garden whirligigs for everyone to enjoy.”
Thanks to a generous benefactor, a coachload of members, volunteers and staff from Elizabeth House went to Waterperry Gardens for lunch and a wander around the gardens.
We arrived, had a quick coffee and then visited the onsite museum full of old brewery memorabilia, farming and village life – with a few surprises! Who knew that sheep and goats could have little welly boots for their feet?
Returning to café, we enjoyed an amazing roast chicken dinner, apple pie and cream and tea or coffee, then spent time shopping, visiting to the old church to see the stained glass windows or walking in the grounds. There is so much to see at Waterperry Gardens that members have asked to come back for a longer visit later in the year.
Next outing (proposed dated Wednesday 18 July) to Buckinghamshire Railway Centre near Aylesbury where we are hoping to ride on a steam train! Please speak to Miriam for more information.
Under the watchful eye of volunteer Becky Pinniger, members of Elizabeth House poured a gritty, sandy compost mix into a glass container, then selected succulents and cacti (provided by Becky Pinniger and Marion Harris) and planted them in the humus-rich soil. After carefully covering the compost with gravel, they added shells for the finishing touch, then watered sparingly.
These gardens in a glass should be placed in a sunny location and watered once a month in the summer.
“I enjoyed doing this activity with the members and look forward to more green-related activities soon”, said Becky.
First impressions count! Members returning to Elizabeth House from their four week move to the Cookham Dean Cricket Club said ‘it’s like a luxury hotel’ when they first stepped into the dayroom, then looked around to see the different features.
Interior designer Sarah Swain had involved members in the design process and the new look dayroom now has comfortable seating, better lighting, air conditioning; a storage unit with TV and audio facilities and new carpeting.
This refurbishment was made possible thanks in part to bequests from past members Dorothy Stevens and Jack Tomlin.
In the dining room ‘state of the art’ presentation equipment has been installed as a result of a generous donation from the Cookham Festival. This will also enhance the value of Elizabeth House to external groups wishing to hire the room for meetings and presentations.
“We aimed to upgrade the building to modern standards, to provide a more comfortable environment for members and to incorporate new technology capable of allowing future flexibility – and with Bill Bennett’s project management skills, we have achieved this”, said chairman of the trustees Chris Harris.
“We used local contractors where possible: Build Trade Ltd, Degrees of Comfort; Climate Solutions and David Butler. Both Bill and Sarah both generously gave their time to the project free of charge, for which we are immensely grateful”.
The refurbishment project was enabled by generous grants from The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, The Shanly Foundation and the Louis Baylis (Maidenhead Advertiser) Charitable Trust. Elizabeth House is also fortunate to receive donations from local individuals and organisations, such as The Spice Merchant and Cookham Bridge Rotary Club, who recently raised £5,000 from a concert by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir at Taplow Court.
Cookham’s Geraint Lewis, singer in the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, presented a framed photo to commemorate the choir’s concert at Taplow Court. The concert, organised by Cookham Bridge Rotary Club, raised £5,000 for Elizabeth House.
To celebrate Parliament Week Lord Young of Cookham gave a short talk to members of Elizabeth House, highlighting the cultural differences between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Speaking from experience (he has been a member of both houses), he explained that as a revising chamber the Lords has more time to scrutinise government bills.
Their lordships are specialists, with outside interests. They were generally better behaved and more attentive than the counterparts in the elected chamber and under no pressure from constituents. Ministers in the House of Lords need to be well briefed to respond to questions – not least because each one covers several government departments.
After questions from members of Elizabeth House, chairman of trustees Chris Harris thanked Lord Young for his fascinating insights.
Customers of Spice Merchant have raised over £3,000 for Elizabeth House since June 2015 by paying 50p from the price of every dessert they buy and by adding an optional sum to every bill.
This brainwave came from Bashir Islam, owner of Spice Merchant, who is delighted with its success.
Why not try one of their classic curries in a historic, setting and support Elizabeth House, too?