|FiSH Neighbourhood Care||
The darkening sky told us that the summer blessing of the last few days was about to fail us. So, with just-in-case umbrellas to hand, ten cautious Wednesday Walkers, and Harry the dachshund, piled into the FiSH bus this afternoon for one of the longest walks we have attempted. Our driver, John Wilson, delivered us safely at Ham Cross Roads and then left us to walk the three miles home on our own. Having discovered the path we thought would take us across the boggy 'Pond Swales', we set off; cautiously striding through thick grassy paths which seemingly led us to uncertain destinations.
That was such fun! We were celebrating with all the nation. We sang, we talked we listened to good music We watched the little children dressed beautifully as kings and queens and so enjoying it. We ate, royally: dainty sandwiches, wonderful cakes and the birthday cake itself. And we were looked after by that smiling army of helpers; met from the minibus and led individually to our seats, introduced to the people at our table. So many people that we knew, some that we hadn't seen for a while. Interesting new people too.
The Wednesday Walkers gathered yesterday at 1.30pm, prepared for the worst. Forecasters had predicted torrential rain and storms with thunder and lightning. Those who had not been put off by these predictions had equipped themselves sensibly and elaborately to withstand the tempest. There was even talk of an emergency ‘PlanB’…
Leonie was a very local lady! Born Leonie Clarke in Observatory Road, East Sheen and known to her friends as Leo, she hailed from a Huguenot ancestry on her mother’s side, hence the name of Leonie of that origin. Leo still lived in the house where she was born at the age of 92 and had seen a lot of comings and goings in the Richmond and East Sheen areas through the years. She had many interesting memories to share.
Soon after I retired, I realised that I really wanted to get involved with something within the local community and, having lived in Sheen for many years, an obvious organisation for me to work with was FiSH. At that time they were thinking about starting something called ‘FiSH ‘n’ Chats’… and I’ve been involved with it ever since!
A few weeks ago, I woke up in the early hours of the morning writhing in pain. Having experienced the same pain some years previously it took me only a few seconds to identify the problem: kidney stones. Ouch! I spent the day drinking as many fluids as I could manage and swallowing as many pain killers as I was allowed. 24 hours later, with the pain having returned with a vengeance, I realised that I’d run out of pain killers and, living alone, there was no way I was going to be able to go out and get more. Fortunately, I was able to call a friend and ask her to go on an emergency mission to the chemist on my behalf. That same evening, I ended up in A&E – and, 24 hours later, the same friend came to the hospital to kindly bring me home.
I was reminded of a conversation that I had had not long ago with an old colleague. She had moved away from London to the sticks of deepest Cambridgeshire and was finding it difficult to build up a network of local friends. Waking up one morning to find that her back had ‘gone’ she admitted to feeling really spooked by the realisation that she knew no one, absolutely no one, living locally who she could call on for help.
My parents, Poppy & Norman Chapman, who used to be local Preachers at Barnes Methodist Church, came originally from a Methodist Church in Newcastle upon Tyne. In the 1950’s a ‘FiSH’ scheme was started in their church and those involved, like my parents, wore a little silver fish on their lapels and coats. Like FiSH Neighbourhood Care, they helped people with shopping, trips to hospitals, home visitations and much more.
My parents were delighted when FiSH was launched here in Barnes and they continued to support FiSH until they passed away.
It is a privilege for me to be able to share with you the role that the Volunteer Helper plays in FiSH.
We are a group of people who have an interest in the elderly at heart, some spare time on our hands and who have made a commitment to get involved.
It is so rewarding to go to a front door and help a lady or gent on to the bus, buckle them up and see that their stick, handbag or walker is safely secured. Their smiles and words of thanks always warm the heart.
FiSH Neighbourhood Care
Barnes Green Centre
London SW13 9HE
The FiSH office is open Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00.
Office: 020 8876 3335
Helpline: 020 8876 3414
Befriending: 020 8878 8100
Bus Transport: 020 8876 3765
Limited Company registered in
England & Wales number: 07933796
Registered Charity number: 1147516