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.
Cecily's Day, our annual celebration, comes around again this week. We'd love for you to join us for a picnic and the chance to discuss the difference we are making in Zambia as we look towards our 20th year.
Cecily's Day is always special. It's a unique opportunity for our supporters, staff and trustees to meet in the beautiful environment of Stonesfield Manor's gardens. In 2016, it is more important still - because this year's event will be the last to take place in Stonesfield before an exciting move closer to our office in Witney in 2017. Additionally, a major theme of this year's event is looking forward to next year, our 20th anniversary year.
All our supporters are welcome as ever, and we very much hope you will be able to join us. We'll gather at Stonesfield Manor (OX29 8QB) at 1pm. We'll then go to the nearby church where you can meet our staff and trustees and hear some short presentations on our achievements in Zambia over the last 12 months. Finally, we'll return to the gardens of the manor for the usual Cecily's Day picnic. Other things to look forward to include:
- Brand new 2016 Christmas cards on sale
- Brand new, revised Gifts of Hope on sale
- Informative displays on our work
Please bring your own picnic, your friends and family and any chairs you may need to Stonesfield Manor at 1pm this Saturday and help us celebrate and enjoy this special day. We'll be posting on social media using the hashtag #CecilysDay - we hope you will join us there, too! If you like, you can also RSVP on Facebook.
By phone: 01993 358 089 / 186