Phillip Schofield Thanks Friends of Chiltern Centre

Friends and supporters of The Chiltern Centre for Disabled Children were invited to a special thank you evening at their founder Patron, Gaie Scouller’s house last night (Monday) with special guest, TV presenter, Phillip Schofield who is also a Patron of the charity.

Phillip has been a Patron of the charity since 2010 and launched the Friends of the Chiltern Centre scheme at the Centre in November 2016.

Guests enjoyed a glass of fizz and delicious canapes before then being treated to a stunning classical performance of Nella Fantasia by Alex Haigh (another Chiltern Centre Patron) and his fiancee Rosie Clifford followed by Brindis-Verdi (known as the drinking song ) from the La Traviata opera with the audience being invited to join in.

Nick Steel (Trustee), Ian Gallifant, and Yvette Kershaw who are part of the team of 11 taking on the epic challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro leaving on Sunday (17 February) to raise value funds for the charity were guests and enjoyed showing off their new team jackets and were delighted to meet and have a selfie with Phillip.  Other members of the team are Allie Campbell, Guy Amir, Lisa Monroe, Nigel Reading, Ronnie Campbell, Rubina Uddin, Ollie Wiltshire and Shlomo Manheim.   The challenge is being sponsored by local businesses including Henley Self Storage, Health SOS by Medelink, Bunker Opticians, Complete Physiotherapy, Claverton Associates, In8 Creative Design Co, Spice Merchant and Peers & Hilton.

Paul Barrett, Chair of the Chiltern Centre Trustees said, “When we look back, it is over 16 years since Gaie agreed to be our founder Patron.

Gaie said, “When South Oxfordshire decided they were going to dump us (literally), I was trustee at the Sobell Foundation and together with Barnado’s we kept it going until you wonderful parents took it over. Ever since then it is the most wonderful centre of excellence and I think we are very thrilled and proud to be involved.”

Paul continued, “Thank you to all of you. It is about you, above all else.  Three of you are putting your life and limbs at risk for the centre. I would also like to acknowledge Councillor Will Hamilton who has agreed to run the London Marathon for us.  Will replied, “I’ll run every mile for you.”

Paul then thanked Phillip for taking time out of his huge schedule to come out to us.  Paul added, ” It is hugely appreciated.  We don’t take you for granted.  I now want to say a bit about last year.  In fundraising terms it was phenomenal.  I used though to have a boss who would say past success is no guarantee of future success and I do think this year will be quite tough as local authorities are running out money and the whole environment is getting very difficult with Brexit and so on.  It is hugely important to have friends like you.  We need friends not only when times are good but when times are bad.  I don’t know quite what 2019 is going to bring and we need you more than ever – through thick and thin. Success is a fragile thing – we never know what is going to happen.  In those times the soul heals itself and we need the mind to be quiet while it does it and it is not always easy.”

Paul then announced that Keith Manning who has been the Centre Manger for the last five years is leaving to pursue fresh opportunities.  Paul commented, “We’re sorry to see him go but change often brings its own reward although it is difficult at the time. It has certainly brought reward for Gareth Groves who has been deputy manager and is acting Centre Manager.  As soon as we register him with Ofsted he will be promoted to the Centre Manager.”

Philip said, “As I was listening to this beautiful duet, I was just thinking this time last night I was watching, Gemma Collins skate.  What a change of culture!  We have been involved in the Chiltern Centre for a very long time now.  Every so often we get the opportunity to get everyone together to say thank you.  I’m sure you do know but it is sometimes nice to be told just how special you are and just incredible you are to help.  Nothing would happen without our friends.  You are truly the kindest and most generous friends and we wanted to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  The centre is the most wonderful place. We’ve got some of our other friends (Chiltern buddies group on the sofas) whose lives are literally transformed by exactly what you do.  That is the direct response from your help to what you see and the difference you make to the families around here is utterly profound.  Thrilled to be here and thank you to Gaie for offering her beautiful house and the mini quiches are amazing. You are not just our friends but our very best friends.”

Philip wished the Kilimanjaro team every success and was then offered the spare place in the team and jacket!

Nick Steel who is looking forward to the Kilimanjaro challenge said, “We are doing the western route.  Six days up and two days down.  I do a lot of rowing but I’ve been doing a lot of walking in my new boots.  A few of us did a trip up Snowdon and Box Hill in Dorking as part of our training.”  Ian Gallifant added, “I’ve done a bit of walking in the Alps but nothing as high as Kilimanjaro.  It was on my bucket list to do.”

Good luck to the team.  We will be keeping you up-to-date with the team’s progress by sharing their posts on Facebook and Twitter.  If you would like to sponsor the team, please go to 


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