Local charities in Merton and Wandsworth were the guests of honour last week at a reception organised by the Wimbledon Foundation, the charity of The All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships.
Representatives from over 55 charities and community organisations awarded funding by the Wimbledon Foundation in 2016 attended alongside Stephen Hammond MP, Siobhain McDonagh MP, the Mayor of Merton Councillor Brenda Fraser and the Mayor of Wandsworth Councillor Richard Field.
Guests enjoyed live jazz by young musicians from the Merton Music Foundation together with the chance to have their photographs taken with The Championship trophies. The highlight of the evening for many was a visit to a magical looking and eerily silent Centre Court.
There were moving speeches by two charities supported over three years by the Wimbledon Foundation’s Health & Wellbeing Fund.
Leonard Cheshire’s Randall Close Resource Centre in Battersea runs Keep Warm, Keep Well which seeks to prevent unnecessary winter deaths in the borough of Wandsworth. The project has visited 800 vulnerable people this winter providing food, heating, blankets, kettles and advice on keeping warm.
William Gallagher, Services Manager at Leonard Cheshire said, “It’s not just what we give, it’s showing the most vulnerable people in our community that someone cares. Surely there is no purpose to our lives unless we give something back.”
Twelve-year old Yousef Maza, the boy who performed the Coin Toss at the 2016 Gentlemen’s Singles Final, returned to the All England Club. Yousef is supported by Jigsaw4u, a Mitcham-based charity which helps children and young people who have experienced bereavement or trauma.
Their mentoring scheme, funded by the Wimbledon Foundation, has supported Yousef during the transition from primary school to secondary school. Describing his Centre Court experience, Yousef said “My heart was pumping at a million beats per hour. It was just amazing. I will never forget that day.”
Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the Wimbledon Foundation said, “The evening was a chance for us to celebrate the achievements of those we support and thank all of the charities for their hard work and commitment to meeting social needs and alleviating disadvantage, especially in our local community of Merton and Wandsworth.”
In 2016, the Wimbledon Foundation awarded grants and donations totalling £700,000, £430,000 of which was donated to charities and community groups working in the boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth.