Well, we can well and truly say that 2020 was a year to remember…even if for all the wrong reasons. It was a tough year for everyone including us at Strode Park Foundation. However, there have been many memorable and lovely moments as well that we would love to recap on.
We started the year with an incredibly successful Cathedral Choristers at St Martin’s Church and raised a wonderful £800. However, soon it was clear we would be facing the first lockdown. This meant that many fundraising events we had spent months preparing were to be cancelled including our much-loved Easter Egg Hunt and Theatre in the Park. This meant a shift in how we were going to raise money and we took to social media to help us.
Over the year we held two successful virtual events, our Virtual Dog Show, and Pumpkin Carving Competition, which both saw our local community and beyond come together and send in some brilliant photos as well as raise some much-needed funds. We also did our third virtual competition for Christmas tree decorating. These have been great events to get the community engaged in a safe way for everyone and we are looking to continue them even after restrictions end. In this time, we also held many raffles, which have raised us a fantastic £1478. Keep an eye out this year for raffles and Virtual events by following us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/strodepark
Much of our Volunteering has had to be halted this year to keep our residents safe, but we managed to fit in a few days that were safe to do. Before the first lockdown was announced we held a volunteer day to makeover our Footprints garden. We were astounded by the hard work of our Volunteers and were hopeful that the garden would be looking great in no time. However, we were soon in lockdown and we were unable to tend to the woodland walk for several months. In August we returned to see the garden back to a sorry state, but we were ready with a great team of volunteers who truly transformed the garden into a wonderful woodland walk, full of bright colour, fairy trails, and animal sculptures around every corner. The Footprints children have since been enjoying the garden massively.
Last summer we were unable to hold our Stride and Ride event as normal, this event is usually exclusively for residents and staff to walk, wheel or ride from Whitstable to Herne Bay along the beach, however, our residents have had to isolate since March and therefore it would not be possible for them to join in. However, we had a plan. Not only did we open our Stride and Ride to the public to do from their homes, but we also asked our homes to take to their gardens and complete their Stride and Ride there… and they did in style. We had residents go Hawaiian, carry cuddly toys with them and create their own train (with their very own fat conductor). Not only did everyone have great fun completing their fundraisers but we also raised over £1000!
Last Halloween, we were able to have our first face to face event since March, we were kindly invited by Felderland Farm to set up camp at their pumpkin patch. Here we held a pick a duck competition, sold our activity packs and got to spread the word about the amazing work we do at Strode. It was great to finally be back outside and seeing the publics faces once more. We were also lucky enough to partner with Sports Events UK to start our Strode Run Series and kick off with our Festive 5k Edition in Canterbury. This was a great day, with lots of happy faces winning beautiful medals. Keep your eyes peeled for our next run this year!
Digital is the word of the year and we did not just make our events virtual, we also changed our newsletter to not only be an e-newsletter but has expanded from just 4 pages to 16! This means more people can easily read about the work we have been getting up to, and we can tell you much more amazing news! It is free to sign up and you can do so by visiting: mailchi.mp/b0f99f564a83/parklife.
Our Christmas Appeal was our final task of the year. We know our residents have been through a lot, they have been in lockdown for much longer than most people and have had limited time with their loved ones. This has been to keep themselves and their entire home as safe as possible, but it has still been hard. We have had great success with our Amazon wish list, which was full of gifts to give our residents, we have been overwhelmed by the support for this appeal and have already delivered the first lot of gifts to all six homes.
We are hopeful that 2021 will see some normality brought back to everyone’s lives and fingers crossed we will be able to come back with more events than ever. Until then we hope everyone stays safe and has had a Merry Christmas and we wish you all a Happy New Year!