Vitalise celebrated its Golden Jubilee this week with special Open Days at its three centres to commemorate the charity’s 50th birthday.
To mark the occasion, Vitalise’s three respite break centres, Jubilee Lodge in Chigwell, Netley Waterside House in Southampton and Sandpipers in Southport, each held an Open Day.
Specially invited visitors joined the centres’ guests, volunteers and staff to celebrate Vitalise’s historic milestone and enjoy afternoons of live music, table magic, drinks, barbecues, buffets, birthday cakes, video screenings, speeches and more.
The Open Days took place during special ‘Happy Birthday’ weeks at the three centres, organised to mark the 50th Anniversary of the charity’s foundation in July 1963 at Grange Farm in Chigwell, now the site of Jubilee Lodge.
Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds attended all three Open Days and was joined by Vitalise Trustees, among them Chair of Trustees Mindy Sawhney, Linda Beaney, Richard Poxton and Tim Prideaux.
The Trustees delivered a specially written keynote speech at each Open Day to pay tribute to Vitalise’s founding trustee, the late Joan Brander MBE, and all those individuals whose efforts helped sustain the charity over the years and continue to sustain it today.
At Jubilee Lodge, Linda Beaney said: “It all started on this very spot five decades ago. Joan Brander had a dream of a place where people with disabilities could enjoy a much-needed change of scene and their carers could take vital time out from caring. It was through the efforts of Joan and her fellow funding trustees that Vitalise’s first centre came into being here at Grange Farm.
During his speech at Netley Waterside House, Richard Poxton continued: “This Open Day is a celebration of five decades of achievement, but it’s also a thank you to all the pioneering individuals past and present who helped transform this charity from its humblest beginnings into the Vitalise we know and love today.”
At Sandpipers, Tim Prideaux concluded: “I would like to finish with the words of our founder Joan Brander: ‘Duty will often carry a problem along on wheels, but only love will carry it on wings, and only on wings will it be carried successfully.’ I think it would be safe to say that now – on our 50th birthday – Vitalise is flying.”
Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds added:
“The spirit of Vitalise is sustained by the passion, commitment and generosity of our staff, volunteers, supporters and friends. You are the people who carry us forward to bigger and better things. We would not be the charity we are today without you.
“Over the last five decades we have achieved so much and made so many friends along the way. We are now looking forward to our next half century with the same optimism and determination as we did all those years ago.
“Vitalise was founded exactly 50 years ago to help restore hope and dignity. We hope the people of the UK will join us in our Golden Jubilee celebrations and support us for 50 more years to come.”
Among the many guests paying tribute to Vitalise was Jubilee Lodge guest Linda Young, 50, of Cambridge, who said:
“This has been a perfect day with lovely weather. It’s very special for me because I celebrated my 50th birthday as well this year! Vitalise has been very important to me because it allows me to have a break and do different things and see different people and meet our wonderful volunteers from all over the world. It’s such a blessing to us, it’s like coming home to a second family when I come here.”
Vitalise is a national charity providing essential respite breaks for people with disabilities – including Alzheimer’s and dementia – and carers at three accessible centres in Chigwell, Southampton and Southport, with 24-hour nursing care on-call, personal support and a range of accessible excursions, activities and entertainment.