Swale Youth Development Fund

‘An evening of conversation’

A fascinating evening of conversation between former national news broadcaster Sir Martyn Lewis and Paralympian Steve Brown, who is a Fund trustee and patron, picture left, raised more than £2,200 for the charity.

About 70 people, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Swale, Cllr Ken and Mrs Mick Ingleton, were in the Assembly Rooms, Faversham on 22 November 2019 to see and hear the pair chat about their respective careers.

Sir Martyn, who was knighted in 2016 for his work with charities, revealed his quest for a new kind of ‘constructive journalism’ to counter years of what he called destructive reporting. He joked about winning Britain’s bonniest baby competition in 1947 when he was two and became the face of royal baby food firm Cow and Gate. He also spoke about his role in reporting on the death of Diana the Princess of Wales.

Sir Martyn is now chairman of Your Big Day which makes videos to mark birthdays and other special dates using archive newsreels. Quoting SYDF online donates £4 to the Fund.

Steve, who was raised on Sheppey and now lives in Sittingbourne, gave an inspiring insight into his school days at Borden Grammar and the horrifying accident in Germany in 2005 which left him paralysed from the waist down.

Despite his careers master saying he would never represent his country at sport or be a wildlife TV presenter – two paths Steve said he would like to follow – he went on to captain the GB rugby wheelchair squad in the London 2012 Paralympics. When injury prevented him from being able to continue training for the Rio 2016 Paralympics he was asked to be part of the coverage team on Channel 4. From there his TV presenting career has taken off with appearances in programmes such as Springwatch and Blue Planet UK. Steve is a regular on BBC’s Countryfile.

The audience also heard from showjumper Will Lewis, 18, from Teynham and artistic gymnast Lara Stembridge, 18, from Faversham who also demonstrated some of her moves. Fund trustee and MC for the evening, Murray Evans, read out a letter from Toby Turpin, 19, who was unable to attend the event, saying how the Fund had helped shape his career in musical theatre and praising the charity’s work.

The total raised was boosted by sponsorship from Checkmate, the safety and engineering company based in Sheerness, and the New Appointments Group.

Honorary Alderman Bill Boggia, another patron of the Fund, attended this event. As part of the celebrations for his 90th Birthday in September he asked for donations to be given to the Fund. To close the evening, and to mark Bill’s birthday, a cheque for £250 was presented by Freemason Ian Ward.

Sad loss of Rose Moreton

The Swale Youth Development Fund sadly lost one of its founding Trustees with the passing of Rose Moreton on 1 August 2019.

Rose enthusiastically supported her husband Richard, who set up the fund when he was Mayor of Swale in 1985.

Fundraising began in earnest under the simple heading of the Mayoress’s Charity before becoming the Swale Youth Development Fund, with its inaugural meeting on 19 November that year.

Despite failing health in recent months, Rose continued to support the Fund’s activities in her role as Life President.

Although saddened, her family and Trustees take comfort in knowing that her work will be perpetuated through the Fund.”

Ross Wilson Lunch

One of the Fund’s most successful recipients, Ross Wilson, gave the charity a huge boost when he agreed to be the guest of honour at a fund-raising lunch at Hempstead House Hotel, in Bapchild.

Ross, from Minster, is a double Paralympic Games medalist, winning bronze for table tennis in the London in 2012 and in Rio four years later with his partner Will Bayley, followed by gold in the men’s singles TT6-10 class at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

In October 2018 Ross Wilson claimed the men’s class 8 World title in Slovenia beating double Paralympic champion Zhao Shuai from China in the final.

And in April 2019, Ross received another honour when he was inducted into the English Institute of Sport Sheffield’s Hall of Champions.

More than 50 people attended the lunch, which raised just over £700 for the fund, thanks to sponsorship from Hempstead House and various donations.

In addition, Derek and Mary Epsley from Chilton Manor Farm Shop brought with them a cheque for £531.65, the proceeds from fund-raising efforts including book sales; a local business consortium gifted £500; and Clive Eglinton, Chairman of Chalkwell Coach Hire who attended the lunch, was so impressed with all he heard he forwarded a cheque for £200.

Ross told the gathering how grateful he had been for the financial support which the SYDF had given him in his formative years, before he had achieved his first success in non-disabled table tennis.

Tributes to his progress were led by another paralympian, Steve Brown, Fund Patron and grandson of Rose Moreton who co-founded the Fund, who has now made a career as a TV presenter and public speaker after captaining the GB wheelchair rugby team in London 2012.

Ross first played table tennis while on holiday and clearly showed an immediate talent for the game.

His natural skill brought him success in non-disabled table tennis and as a junior he was ranked in the top ten in the country, winning two national doubles titles. However, as he got older it became clear that some physical problem was affecting his development although exhaustive medical tests failed to discover the cause. Finally, in 2011 he was diagnosed with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, which affects the growing ends of the bones, after his cousin was diagnosed with the same condition by a geneticist.

He told the lunch guests that his next target was the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.

New chairman

The Swale Youth Development Fund has elected a new chairman on the 2 July 2018, after Carole Nealey, who has been with the charity since its inception in 1985, stepped down.

She is succeeded by Sarah Drury, who herself received support from the fund many years ago and has been a trustee for more than 20 years.

Mrs Nealey said she was honoured to be elected vice-president at the fund’s annual meeting and she will continue as a trustee.

She was secretary to the Mayor of Swale when the fund was launched by Richard Moreton, supported by his wife Rose, when he was in office in 1985. Fundraising began in earnest under the simple heading of the Mayoress’s Charity before becoming the Swale Youth Development Fund, with its inaugural meeting on 19 November.

When their term of office ended in May 1986, Carole chose to remain as secretary to the fund, a job she held on and off until being succeeded by Rosemary Madgwick, who was Mayoress for the civic year 1996-97.

Carole became vice-chairman in 2009 and chairman of the charity in 2012.

Sarah Drury, who works in the education sector, was a recipient of an award from the charity in its early years, when the fund supported her on an adventure sailing course aboard the Arethusa sail training ship.

“The trustees felt it would promote my leadership skills, which it did, as I went on to be a senior leader in education,” she said.

She was subsequently invited to the charity’s tenth anniversary celebrations and became a trustee shortly afterwards.

Mrs Drury and the charity’s other vice-president, Alan Bernstein, paid tribute to Mrs Nealey’s many years of dedication to the charity.