On September 2, 2017 over 100 of our supporters gathered at St. Mary's Church in Witney for Cecily's Day. With special guests in attendance, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Cecily's Fund and the huge impact we've made together in Zambia since 1997.
Cecily's Day 2017 was special for a number of reasons. For the first time the event took place in Witney, where our office is located. The beautiful St. Mary's Church is just a few minutes' walk from the office and a superb venue. We had the company of guests from around the world, many with a deep connection to the Eastwood family. In addition to our usual roster of speakers, we had a moving communion service, a fantastic choir singing Zambian songs, and the launch of the first-ever Cecily's Fund Supporters' Cookbook.
Communion Service of Thanksgiving
The first part of Cecily's Day was a special communion service of thanksgiving, for which the celebrant was Rob Eastwood Dewing and the server was Charlotte Oakeshott. Readings were given by former Chair William Powlett Smith and former trustee John Fox, while prayers of intercession were led by Cecily's sister Verity.
We were honoured to be joined at Cecily's Day by a number of notable guests:
- Sister Theresa Stapleton joined us from Ireland and spoke about the founding of Children in Distress (CINDI), the organisation with which Cecily volunteered while in Zambia and which the Fund began by supporting. [Read Sister Theresa's speech]
- Patron Sixtus Mulenga and his wife Rebecca visited from Zambia. Sixtus spoke about some young people supported by Cecily's Fund who have become successful, and the need to create more jobs for school leavers.
- Our co-founder Basil Eastwood provided a short history of Cecily's Fund, with some fascinating insights on our transformation from a "kitchen table" concern to a thriving medium-sized charity. [Read Basil's speech]
Special Guests from Zambia
In addition to Sixtus and Rebecca Mulenga, we were joined by two other special guests from Zambia. Beatrice Chola and Patricia Besa joined us from Bwafwano Integrated Services Organisation (BISO), who have been partners of ours since 2003. They kindly answered questions about BISO community school, and explained how Cecily's Fund has really made a difference in the Chazanga area of Lusaka.
Cookbook and Christmas Cards Launch
An extra highlight of Cecily's Day 2017 was the launch of our brand-new Christmas cards and our first ever Supporters' Cookbook. Featuring over 90 recipes submitted by our supporters, the Cookbook breaks new ground for Cecily's Fund and is great value at just £10. Guests at Cecily's Day were the first to be able to buy both of these products, but they are now available to all via our online shop.
Cecily's Day was made possible in part by the tremendous effort of our volunteers, speakers, officials and guests to whom we express our sincere thanks. We also thank all the supporters who attended the event, made donations, bought merchandise, and learned more about our work. Your support not only made Cecily's Day a success, but has also made our work possible since 1997. We hope you will continue to support us for years to come, as we continue our work to help build a more prosperous Zambia where education is available to all.
On Saturday September 16th, Cecily's Fund Trustee and Treasurer Andy Tacon competed the one-mile event at Swim Serpentine. By taking on the cold waters of the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park, Andy has raised over £1,100!
The water temperature was just 15 degrees celsius on the day, making this difficult event more challenging still:
Managed to complete the full mile but have to say it was the most physically demanding thing I've done for a while. The last couple of hundred metres seemed to go on forever as fatigue and the chilly waters started to take their toll. Very pleased to have made it!
Andy has become the third person to complete the swim for Cecily's Fund, after Cecily's sister Verity and Tim Cooke-Hurle took part in the very first event in 2016. In total, well over £3,000 has been raised for our work in Zambia thanks to the efforts of the swimmers and the generous sponsorship from our supporters - for which we are most grateful.
Andy's JustGiving page is still open to donations. The sum he has already raised in sponsorship is enough to help Cecily's Fund keep over 20 children in school for a year: donate today, and Andy's impact can be greater still.
Help us celebrate two decades' of work in Zambia by adding to our impact in 2017
This year marks 20 years since the establishment of Cecily's Fund, and our celebrations have already begun! In the two decades we have been working in Zambia, we've made an huge impact. With your support, we've helped thousands of children attend school, receive vital health information, and enjoy broader opportunities to succeed.
In 2017, there's no better way to mark how far we've come than by continuing to move forward. The need for our work is still very real and children in the communities we work with face continue to tremendous challenges on the road to education and independence. That's why our aim this year is to raise an additional £20,000 to help us make our biggest impact yet.
However much you can donate or raise towards our £20,000 target, you'll be supporting a whole range of Cecily's Fund activities which are changing lives right now. From providing a nutritious lunch to vulnerable children in community school to helping businesses get started, your support really counts where it's needed.
Some supporters have already made an inspiring start to our fundraising. Verity and Tim took on the first-ever Swim Serpentine last September and raised over £2,000; while Kate competed at the World Triathlon Championships, raising £750. We'll be sharing some similar exciting opportunities during the year - but you can raise a great amount by doing something as simple as a coffee and cake event, exactly as Mary did. For a host of tips, download our fundraising pack today.
An annual celebration of our work, Cecily's Day is always a special event. Last year (pictured) was the final instalment to take place in Stonesfield, and in 2017 Cecily's Day will be the culmination of our 20th anniversary year. At St. Mary's Church in Witney - very close to the Cecily's Fund office - supporters will have the chance to hear from our staff and patrons at a unique gathering to mark two decades' of our impact together.