18 July 2016

National awards honour local treasure

Tring resident Peggy Bainbridge (85) has been the well-deserving recipient of twoPeggy Bainbridge & Mollie Gosling prestigious national awards in June and July.  Her unswerving dedication to Rennie Grove Hospice Care over nearly 25 years earned her the rare honour of a British Citizen Award at a special ceremony on 7 July, whilst her crucial role in Rennie Grove’s retail success was rewarded with the Charity Retail Association’s Volunteer of the Year Award at a ceremony on 27 June.

Peggy’s association with Rennie Grove began in the late 1980s when she became aware that a small team of nurses were looking after terminally ill people in her community.  Despite personal tragedy, Peggy had the inspiration, drive and energy to run a Friday morning market stall in Wendover, raising funds for this nursing charity in its infancy.  Selling mainly bric-a-brac, her first week’s profit was £77 and the next week £100.  Each Friday, she would walk up to the charity’s office and hand over her takings; never ceasing to lobby for a ‘proper’ shop.

Over time Peggy’s stall generated much-needed income and was well-known in the community.  Increasingly determined that the charity should open a shop, Peggy approached the Chief Executive with a proposal: she’d found a shop and a reduced rent was negotiated with the landlord.  Thanks to her persistence retail fundraising for Rennie Grove began in earnest with its first shop opening in Tring in 1993.

Rennie Grove Volunteer Services Officer, Susan Lewis, put Peggy forward for both awards and is thrilled that her long-standing support has been acknowledged: “Peggy is a game-changer,” says Susan, “known in the community for her local contacts, amazing powers of persuasion and delegation, eye for a good deal, phenomenal social skills and ability to make contacts and new connections.  She has used these skills over the years to find other ways to raise funds and get others involved.  Summer parties, open gardens, fashion shows and plant sales, music events on the front lawn of the Rothschild’s Cottages where she now lives.  You name it – Peggy has done it!”

Peggy said: “The stall was what I could do on my own; the shop was so different: we were a team.  At the head, former Chief Executive Rowena Dean and Deborah James, a volunteer with banking skills, and the rest my friends and their friends, many aged over 60.  Passionate about raising money for the nurses, they were our inspiration and we worked hard for them.  Through massive laughter and some tears, frustrations and fun, we found we had skills we didn’t know we had!  To past and present friends, those we have loved and still do – thank you.  I’d also like to thank Stephen Hearn, John Bly and Geoffrey Palmer for all the help and warm friendship they have shown to me and Iain Rennie Hospice at Home – now Rennie Grove Hospice Care.”