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.
The first-ever Cecily's Fund cookbook is here! We're ready to take your order through our online shop, where our brand-new 2017 Christmas cards are also available.
Those supporters who attended Cecily's Day on September 2 had the first chance to buy the new cookbook and cards, but these new products are now available to all. The Supporters' Cookbook is a beautifully-printed labour of love which features over 90 delicious recipes submitted by our supporters.
Divided into seven sections including starters, mains, desserts, and salads the book features recipes for every taste - from old family favourites to exotic dishes from around the world. There is even a recipe which helped win an episode of Come Dine With Me!
Early buyers of the cookbook are delighted with it. Yvonne, the co-ordinator of Swiss Friends of Cecily's Fund, calls it "well-organised, easy to read, practical and humorous" while supporter Martin Gregory is "very impressed with the number and quality of the recipes."
At just £10 the cookbook is great value and makes a perfect Christmas gift - perhaps complemented with one of our six different Gifts of Hope, also available from our shop!
For more information (or to order more than one copy of the cookbook) please contact Georgina via our contact page or by calling us on 01993 358089.
Beginning on September 30th, a two-week exhibition of original photography at The Yarrow Gallery at Oundle School in Northamptonshire will raise money for Cecily's Fund.
Photographer Mike Morrison is a former drama teacher at Bedales School, which Cecily attended. He will be exhibiting his original photography at The Yarrow Gallery at Oundle School until October 14th.
Mr. Morrison has generously decided to support Cecily's Fund at the event: he will be running a silent auction for a beautiful professionally printed and framed photograph of the gondolas at St. Mark's Square in Venice (pictured). The work is 76 x 54cm in size and part of a limited set of just 25 prints: the starting bid is £175 and all proceeds will be donated to Cecily's Fund.
Bids in sealed envelopes will be accepted in person at the exhibition: alternatively, bids by email can be made via our Supporter Relations Officer Georgina Winks from September 30th. Simply visit our contact page and email Georgina with your bid to take part. Bids before September 30th will not be accepted.
Finally, Mr. Morrison will also be running pop-up portrait sessions on the first and last Saturdays of the exhibition. Again, all proceeds from these sessions will benefit Cecily's Fund.
We wish Mr. Morrison all the best for his exciting exhibition, thank him for his kind support, and hope that some Cecily's Fund supporters will be able to visit!