If there’s a way, Anita will find it

Champion fundraiser Anita Routley ‘Walking The Wall’ for the Lyme Regis branch of Cancer Research UK last year

ONE big negative of these lockdown days has been the huge impact it has had on the raising of funds to keep the many charities and good causes in our town afloat.

But it has amazed me how creative some of our community workers have been in finding new ways to keep their bank balances in the black and to continue their good works.

Inevitably, some (especially the charities) have had to cease operating for the time being, but are looking forward to resuming their activities as we had towards ‘the new normal’, whatever that will be.

The old adage ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ has certainly been adopted by many as they strive to continue their fundraising.

As chairman of the local branch of Cancer Research UK, I am acutely aware that CRUK has been hit very hard by the pandemic. There are small branches like ours all over the country on which the fight against cancer depends.

This year we were going to make a very special effort to raise £10,000 which would take us somewhere near the £200,000 raised since our formation in 2008.

It was our intention to organise an event every month and we started well by raising £1,500 in January and February of last year with a soup and sweet lunch and pizza night at the Pilot Boat.

We were then looking forward to our biggest money-maker of the year, the annual Big Breakfast in March. The arrival of COVID-19 put paid to that.

We did try to organise it later in the year with stringent social distancing – but the second lockdown put paid to that.

However, we did manage to keep a few pounds rolling it thanks primarily to the ingenuity of our treasurer, Anita Routley.

Anita is a real thinker outside the box and during the period she worked for me at the View From she came up with a number of unique fundraising ideas.

One of them I shall never forget. Anita, backed by husband John, as always, decided to spend 24 hours on the Tube network in London visiting every station.

My wife Jackie and I went up to London to greet them at they emerged from the last station at the Elephant and Castle, near Waterloo. I’ve never seen anyone looking as fed up and John when he trudged out of the station!

During this pandemic Anita’s mind has gone into overdrive to come up with several unique ideas to continue her support for Cancer Research, which has lost £50million in donations and fundraising.

First, she intended to do a 24-hour marathon playing board games, inviting people to challenge her. That had to be called off because of the COVID-19 restrictions. But that didn’t stop Anita; the event eventually went ahead by Zoom with £300 being raised.

Up next came another simple but clever idea. Anita challenged all and sundry to ‘Walk The Wall’ – taking a stroll from The Cobb to the end of the East Cliff Walk and contributing £20 for doing so. That brought in just under £1,000.

And now she’s at it again. Anita learnt to tap dance at an early age and has demonstrated this skill many times on the local stage in various shows. She’s committed to doing 300 tap steps every day for a month in a bid to raise £500, which I have no doubt she will achieve.

If you would like to help her reach that target you can do so by making a donation via the Facebook page ‘Tap Stepping in March for Cancer Research UK’.

The consequence of this is that our branch has been able to raise nearly £4,000 which has been sent to headquarters, a big chunk of this coming from Anita’s sheer determination to keep the money rolling in. Some way from our £10k target, but a good effort under the circumstances.

So well done Anita and thank you to all those who have supported her during these past few difficult months.

Like all other charitable organisations in Lyme, we are now looking forward to lockdown being lifted and will resume running an event every month from September to December, the details for which we will announce in LymeOnline when we are sure that all COVID restrictions will be lifted.

If you can’t be kind, be quiet!

ONE of the most distressing and long term repercussions caused by living through a pandemic is the effect it will have of people’s mental health.

We can witness examples of this every day on our TV screens and the burden this will have on the NHS is likely to be extreme for a very long time.

There is a great deal of anger around, especially on social media. Surely, the time has come for a huge dose of kindness – from us all.

Actually, being kind is good for the body as well as the soul. Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion, and improve mood. It can decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone, which directly impacts stress levels.

People who give of themselves in a balanced way also tend to be healthier and live longer.

Reason enough, surely, for those keyboard warriors who thrive on perpetuating rumour and fake news to consider how much damage their unkind words are causing.

Summertime and the bookings are flowing

IN a recent column I dared to ask whether we might get something of a near normal summer.

I lamented about the last year with none of Lyme’s summer festivals and suggested that it might be possible – with government approval – to see a return of the festivals which make our town such an attraction.

I don’t know what’s in that vaccine but it certainly boosted my expectations.

It would seem I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. I have been told that holiday bookings are pouring in for July and August and Boris’ roadmap to escape lockdown looks as though the main summer events which are so popular are going to happen.

Jazz Jurassica will kick-off our summer of fun, Lifeboat Week will return, as will the Regatta and Carnival, and more are in the pipeline.

Another right royal knees-up

I AM pleased that Lyme Regis Town Council is joining Jazz Jurassica to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum (70 years) Jubilee in 2022.

It makes sense that as the jubilee clashes with the same date as the jazz festival, the two should come together and not be competing against one another.

I note that council has allocated £8,000 to cover any costs of the celebration, money that was budgeted for a residents’ weekend celebrate, an extension really of the ‘I Love Lyme Day’, which I was a part of two years ago.

In 2012, when the Queen was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, Lyme put on a programme of events which was more extensive than any other town in Dorset after the mayor, Sally Holman, put together a small committee to organise the event, assisted by the Woodmead Halls Management Committee.

If I recall, it was a lovely weekend with loads of different events and crowned by the presence of two Chelsea Pensioners in the town. Who will forget the crowd reaction when the two old soldiers, resplendent in their red tunics, joined the parade of local organisations, marching to the tune of ‘Boys Of The Old Brigade’.

One highlight of that weekend was the presentation of Honoured Citizens badges to members of the public who had gone over and above the call of duty in the community life of this town.

These were financed by the town council – but that was the only cost to the council tax payers.

In planning the special weekend it emerged that not everyone in Lyme were enthusiastic royalists and they were asking why they should contribute towards the celebration via the rates.

Fair enough, we thought, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and we decided that the weekend events should be self financing, as indeed they were.

I’ve never been one to believe that the town council should pay for everything outside its responsibilities to run the town. That is why I’ve never called on the council to contribute a penny to the cost of the Red Arrows appearing in Lyme.

Eight thousand pounds is not a great deal to take out of the town council’s healthy reserves to give the townsfolk a bit of a knees-up. But I have always believed that the council should act as enablers, and not organisers.

That’s not to say I have any objection to the coming together of the council and Jazz Jurassica. Its organiser, Julie Sheppard, does a splendid job and I’m really looking forward to this year’s festival which takes place between May 28 and 31.

Woodmead Halls

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