A Christmas message from our CEO, Rachel Hill

22nd December 2022

At this time of the year, many of us start to reflect on our memories of the past 12 months. It has certainly been another difficult year for the world and our country – with the sad loss of the Queen, war in Ukraine and so much economic turbulence which is impacting on the cost of living for all of us.

Like every organisation whether commercial or public sector, our charity has had to take some difficult decisions over the last couple of years as we have tried to work out how best to deliver services and use our funds as responsibly as we can.

With costs escalating as much as they are, it can feel like two steps forward and one step back at times, but we remain committed to our core purpose of providing homes to older people in need and delivering on the wishes of our founder, William Whiteley – which at times like these, could not be more important.

Despite all the challenges, we’ve had some important successes to celebrate this year. We received a ‘Good’ rating from the Care Quality Commission for both our care homes – Ingram House and the Eliza Palmer Hub. In the autumn we also received another Platinum Award from the Gold Standards Framework for our end-of-life care provision in both homes too.

We have had some notable successes with our fundraising this year too, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all those who so generously support our charity in various ways.

We are very grateful for the continued and generous grant support from the Walsingham Trust which has helped many of our residents and supported our community choir this year. Thank you also to Surrey and Hersham local councillor John O’Reilly, a long-standing supporter of Whiteley Village, who awarded us a substantial grant from his Community Allocation Fund which helped pay for the resurfacing of the pathways outside our extra care centre Huntley House last month as it was becoming unsafe for residents.

Another big thank you to other donors including Precision Golf and their customers who raised an amazing £2,630 for us through their charity auction in the summer and Peter Taylor, our former bus driver and volunteer whose local Masonic Lodge gave our charity £1,000. We are so grateful to them and all those kind family members and friends of Whiteley – including some of our own staff – who support us in so many ways or pay for resident entertainment or treats for staff for example.

It was wonderful to see so many supporting our special afternoon tea fundraisers this year organised by our staff, and the recent festive event organised by the Leadership Team and Trustees (see photos), which was such a fun afternoon!

We are also very grateful to our amazing and dedicated volunteers from the village and our local community, who make such a difference by supporting our reception, café, Clubhouse and shop. Also, the many local businesses such as Verisk and SHL who have donated and volunteered for us this year. We’ve been so delighted with the links we have built with some of our local schools whose students and teachers have so kindly supported our community work this year such as St George’s, Notre Dame and Walton Leigh – whose students support our café, and with other charities such as The Grange, whose members support our estates team.

Our community also benefits hugely from the work of our many village volunteers who run and support our many clubs and societies, the village charity shop and library and have organised such lovely social events this year. It has been wonderful to see people coming together again and supporting each other despite the long tail of Covid and we celebrated a few of them at our Founder’s Day awards this year.

I would also like to thank our amazing staff. The Leadership Team and I are so very grateful to all of them – those who are in front line roles and those who provide the vital support services behind the scenes. Their dedication and hard work, often in very challenging circumstances, helps to make Whiteley the special place it is. They are in every sense a brilliant team!

Finally, as many of you know, looking after our mental health and wellbeing is an important issue for me and one way I support my own mental health is to regularly immerse myself in cold water usually in the Thames or a local lake.

I have undertaken a few challenges this year but now I have decided to see if I can raise funds for the Trust by entering the ‘Penguin Challenge’ where I am attempting to be an Antarctic penguin! This entails swimming at least 3,000 metres a month with at least two of those swims being 250m in only a swimming costume, wetsuit socks, gloves, and a hat (no wetsuits) every month from November to the end of March.

With all the icy weather, and some ill health, this fundraiser has certainly been a challenge in every sense as you can see from the photo here! But every penny raised will go to support events and community projects for the village so I would be so grateful for your support and you can sponsor me here at Just Giving  – so please spread the word.


THANK YOU again for all your support to our charity in 2022 and on behalf of myself, the Board and the Leadership Team, I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and happy new year and 2023!   Rachel

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