With panto season well and truly over, April brought with it our charity donations. This year, due to rising costs and the bite of bad weather, we gave away a little less than usual, but our total donated still reached £5,000, split between six Isle of Wight charities at our AGM on Thursday, 24th April, 2014.
This takes our grand total over the years to £122,000 - and every penny has stayed on the Isle of Wight to help Island people. This is when all the hard work becomes ten times as worthwhile, and hearing how our donations make a difference is our favourite post-panto blues remedy...
The first was Across the Board Surf School, and Katie Bond of the National Autistic Society Isle of Wight was on hand to collect a cheque for £1,000. The school runs surfing sessions, largely over the summer, for autistic children, giving them the opportunity to engage with an exciting, water-based sport with their families.
The second cheque was for £900 and it was presented to Mike Earley on behalf of the 7th Newport Scouts, to help them fund some new equipment. The Scouts support our pantomime every year, and we were thrilled to give something back.
Riding for the Disabled received a cheque for £800, which was collected by Anna Reed. A charity that provides horse-riding as a form of leisure and physical therapy, it's another hugely worthy cause we are proud to have supported.
A cheque for £800 also went to the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association IW, collected by Adrian Axford and his son, Gary, who suffers from the condition.
"For families affected by Spina Bifida, the cost of travelling to the mainland for treatment can be huge," said Adrian. "This money will go towards travel expenses and lightweight wheelchairs. Thank-you so much to everyone at The Wight Strollers for this contribution - it's an amazing amount of money and we really will benefit from it."
Ability Dogs 4 Young People received a donation of £750, collected by Carol Court and some of her dedicated puppy parenting team...and some of the puppies, including little Magic, who was a hit with some of the Strollers' younger members.
Our donation could help to sponsor a puppy, which would then be trained to assist young people with physical and mental disabilities on the Isle of Wight.
Our final charity for 2014 was the Sandown and Shanklin Independent Lifeboat, and Mark Birch collected a cheque for £750 on their behalf.
"We can't thank The Wight Strollers enough for their donation," he said. "We are a 24/7 service run by volunteers, so it's donations like this that keep our service running."
Two new committee members were also elected, in the form of Leslie Kast and Alyson Keele-Toms - congratulations, and we look forward to welcoming you at our next meeting!
Shortly after our AGM, an article appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press on Friday, May 2nd, reporting on the donations - so thank-you to them, and if you still have your copy, check out the piece.
Our 2015 pantomime is currently being discussed and decided, and we will be making an announcement very soon, so watch this space!
Sadly, though, this could be The Wight Strollers final curtain call, as council cuts threaten not only the Isle of Wight Music Service but the fate of Medina Theatre: our pantomime home. If the use of the theatre is lost to the community, The Wight Strollers will be homeless.
So set aside the February half term dates now and support us next year on the 14th, 15th and 21st February 2015 at Medina Theatre.
And keep your fingers (and toes!) crossed for us!