After more than 15 years at Launchpad, I have decided to move on. My time at the charity has been an incredible and uplifting experience, and one that I will cherish. The people of Reading will always hold a special place in my heart.
Launchpad now offers more help to the community than ever before – supported housing, long term homes, legal assistance, drop-in and Launchpad 135, the charity’s work and life skills centre.
This was all possible through the amazing support of the people of Reading and Berkshire. Your generosity has helped change people lives and, in some cases, saved their lives. I cannot thank you enough for your help and your tremendous support. I will always be in your debt.
For a charity to be successful it needs great people. I cannot thank everyone however I do wish to mention those people who made Launchpad special.
I have had the great fortune to work with fantastic trustees. David, who took a risk and appointed me. Roger, a great trustee and Chair of the Board who brilliantly led the trustees and the charity. Helen, a star trustee without whom Launchpad would not be the place it is today and Matt – an incredible trustee who is passionate, committed and a wonderful person to work with. Thank you Matt for all you did for Launchpad and me.
The staff and volunteers are the most important part of Launchpad. It is their commitment and passion that bring the organisation to life. These are just some of the staff who have stayed in my memory due to their unique contributions to the charity: Julie, Swak, Carrie, Paul, and Carl, (who tragically died). Amanda, Jason and Ellie who appeared to be able to raise however much was needed to meet our next new challenge. Ros, our magical bid writer, who conjures up funding with her prose. And Scott and Janine who managed team A and team B throughout the pandemic. There are so many more great people and so many memories.
I must also mention the late Mary Bayliss, the former Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire. She was an inspirational woman who did so much for Launchpad and other charities in Berkshire, and I will be forever indebted to her.
Another group of people I’d like to mention are our incredible supporters – both individuals and organisations – who have tirelessly donated and fundraised for Launchpad over the years. If you have ever given the charity some of your hard-earned money or taken on a challenge or a bake sale to raise funds for Launchpad, I thank you. You have helped give hope and a new start in life to so many.
In addition to those who support the charity, it’s important not to forget the people we serve. There have been many vulnerable men and women who have been supported to repair themselves, and grow and develop into full members of the community. I often meet these ex-clients in Reading town centre and am immensely proud of them. They have overcome huge problems and I am honoured that we assisted them. Heartbreakingly, not all our clients are here today and I carry the memory of those few with me.
Where I will go to next, I still have to decide. I always liked the Tolkien poem: “Still round the corner there may wait a new road or a secret gate; and though I oft have passed them by, a day will come at last when I shall take the hidden paths that run west of the moon, east of the sun.” I wait with much excitement to see what is west of the moon, east of the sun.
As to the future for Launchpad, Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate measure of a man or woman is not where she or he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where she or he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” At Launchpad I have always tried to live to that standard and I hope the new CEO will continue to do the same.