Friday, 9 December 2016

Christmas Fayre 2016

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came along to support our annual Emmanuel House Christmas Fayre on Saturday 3rd December 2016 and once again it was a great success.  I hope you all had a lovely time and enjoyed yourselves as I know I did.

It was fabulous to see everyone and we really had a fun time, catching up, tucking in to a delicious buffet and singing along with Christmas tunes.

As well as refreshments and food we had a tombola, raffle and gifts for sale.

Everyone did there big to make our Christmas Fayre 2016 a huge success.

Raymond, Ryan and I had such a laugh and it was great to all catch up with everyone.

We raised the fantastic sum of £650.00 and I must say without your help, support, generosity and dedication it would not have been possible.  All the money raised will be going towards our Emmanuel House holiday homes that we have purchased and situated in Eastgate Weardale where cancer patients, the terminally ill and their families can go to for respite care completely free of charge.

Each caravan has its own decking area with outdoor table and chairs where you can sit and soak in the beautiful scenery and atmosphere.  There is also a country pub/hotel called the Cross Keys within a few minutes’ walking distance from the site which has wheelchair access, a silver service restaurant attached and a beer garden at the rear with a running river view and access for parking if needed.  They provide a much needed break for people to relax and spend time with their families.

Five to six regular Macmillan nurses across the North East refer patients to me and last year we managed to provide respite holidays for thirty-two families and their carer’s who all had a wonderful time and 2016 has been just as busy.

Next year the total costs of running the holiday homes will be approximately £8,000.00, this is because of site fees, rates, gas, electric and the insurances going up each year as well as keeping them maintained to a very high standard.

So thank you all once again for your continuous help and support as it means so much and I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

South Causey Inn

On Sat 1st Oct 2016 our friends son was married at the South Causey Inn at Stanley, myself, husband Raymond and our younger son Ryan attended the evening event and what a great night we all had. When we first arrived we were invited to sit with our friends in the bar/lounge until the function room was ready once again for the evening do. What a lovely welcoming and relaxed atmosphere it had.

We sat on a large leather sofa in front of a beautiful open log fire; you simply can’t get anything better than that. The function room was huge but because my husband and I are non-sighted my friend and son described all the decor and furnishings and also took me on a small tour so that I could feel everything for myself and not miss out on anything.

I have to say how greatly impressed I was, as a matter of fact it was breath taking and quite moving. The night also included a free roulette table for the evening, not to gamble but just for pure fun. There was a winning prize on the night, a free overnights stay for two persons in the hotel and guess who won, my son Ryan.  Imagine my surprise when he generously then passed the prize over to me! 

He said "you go Mam and take someone with you."

I would have loved to have taken my husband with me but unfortunately I look after him 24/7 because of his disabilities and special needs and wouldn’t have been possible. So I took my Mum, Hilary Jack with me instead. We actually went the following Sunday on Oct 9th 2016. I was so looking forward to it just that short period of time for me to sit and chill out and that’s exactly what we both did.

We had a great time just sitting on the sofa in front of the beautiful warm log fire soaking in all the wonderful atmosphere, chatting, laughing and being waited on hand and foot while feeding our faces. What more could anyone ask for. From the moment we arrived we were made so welcome by Sue and Phil the owners and also from their wonderful team of staff.

I have never experienced so much warmth, friendship, expertise and efficiency as I did for those two days at the South Causey Inn. In my opinion it definitely ticked all the boxes from the exotic food, beautiful bedrooms as well as the stunning surroundings. The much bigger hotels could most certainly learn a thing or two from this very unique place. What I loved more than anything about being there was that there was no airs and graces, no falseness about the place, you really could just sit back and relax and be yourself and for me that speaks volumes.

Delicious Sunday Dinner at The South Causey Inn

The difference I feel between the South Causey Inn and other hotels is that it is privately owned and also ran by the owners themselves which shone through and through. To be honest, altogether it was like one big happy family and you were made to feel part of it and that’s the way it should always be wherever you go. I would have no hesitation about advising anyone to go and visit there even if it was only for a drink as you will not be disappointed.

Relaxing on the sofa
It is also the ideal place to go if you are feeling down, lonely or living on you’re own and just want a bit of company, as you will be made very welcome. When you sit on the sofa by the log fire it really is like being in your own home except you have company around you. Who knows you might even bump into someone who you already know or maybe someone who is in the same position as yourself.

So thank you once again Sue and to your lovely husband Phil and to all your staff for allowing us to have such an enjoyable stay and I look forward to catching up with you all again in the near future.

God Bless and take care.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Sponsored Dip in the sea in memory of Dave Pickett

On 24th August 2006 Dave Pickett sadly passed away leaving his loving wife Dawn and his two wonderful children Alex and Jack behind.  He was one of my patients at Emmanuel House and had been bravely battling with Oesphogeal Cancer.  Although I only got to know Dave for the last few months of his life he was a great guy who always had a smile on his face and was an inspiration to many others.

Dave was loved and well known by many people.  They all helped out and together  raised the fantastic sum of £4,500 for Emmanuel House, donated in his memory by his family, friends and work colleagues.  We were truly blessed to receive such a kind donation at such a difficult time.

Dave Pickett with his daughter Alex

Because so much money was donated to Emmanuel House in memory of Dave Pickett I felt the need to do something special with it.  So in 2008, on his son Jack's third birthday, we opened a Summer House for children of all ages and equipped it with everything that they would need from table football, keyboard, boys workbench, dolls house, games and much more. 

I somehow felt that Dave would have wanted me to provide a place for the children where they could have their own fun time whilst their parents would come and relax, have therapy or just a simple chat with others.  

On the opening of the Summer House Dawn Pickett said “it was a really emotional day but a happy one as well”

Since Dave’s passing ten years ago we have never lost contact with Dawn and the family and they have been great supporters of Emmanuel House throughout the years.  

In August Alex held a beach party in memory of her father to help raise funds for Emmanuel House.  

tynemouth beach party for charity
Alex with her friends & family at the Beach Party

You can read more here on her JustGiving page here.

It was the ten year anniversary for her dad, and she wanted to celebrate his life.  She organised a party on Tynemouth Beach for friends and family.  

There was even a sponsored dip in the sea to help raise funds.

Taking the plunge

raising funds for charity at tynemouth beach
A wonderful way to raise funds & remember Dave 

alex and her friends raising funds for emmanuel house

Between the JustGiving page and donations on the day they raised £300 in total and we are extremely proud of Alex, she really is a truly amazing young woman.    

"It was a fantastic day and it was amazing to have the support of all my family and friends." Alex said.

"I'm glad I could give something back to Christine and Emmanuel House as they have helped our family so much, and my Dad adored Christine and Ray".

She is an inspiration and regularly fundraises in memory of her Dad.  We are so blessed to know people like Alex, who help us do what we do.  Without fundraising we simply would not be able to help people the way we do.  We have three holiday homes situated at Cragside Caravan Park in Eastgate near Stanhope in Weardale.  They are available free of charge for cancer patients, the terminally ill and their families to go to for respite care.  It cost £7,000 per year to keep our holiday homes up and running, so we're always grateful for any help.

If you would like to learn more about what we do, click here.

If you are interested in raising money for Emmanuel House ring us on 0191 460 9693, we'd love to hear from you

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Learning to live with an illness and a disability

I wanted to write this post on learning to live with an illness and disability as I feel that everything in life is about love, caring for one another, sharing everything we have and giving hope and encouragement to others for the future.

In the summer of 1970, at the age of sixteen I tragically went blind and my world, as I knew it came suddenly to an end.  I had left for work as usual that morning to catching the bus like I always had, blissfully oblivious to the fact that my life was about to take such a colossal and rapid transformation.  I arrived at work at Boots the Chemist in Gateshead just like I had every day, everything was normal and I felt fine.  As I finished lunch with my colleagues an unexplained and sudden horrible wave came over me.  Disorientated and confused, I remember the grotesque and surreal feeling as I could still hear the girls chatting and laughing in the background.  I began to feel numb; I was terrified, confused and felt totally vulnerable.  After that nothing appeared to be clear in my mind, a blur of noise and motion as I fell unconscious.  In that cruel and unexpected moment everything in my life changed forever.

I found myself waking up in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in a straightjacket with a tube stuck down my throat as my stomach was being pumped.   I could not understand what had happened or what was going on, I cannot remember much more until I suddenly woke up in Dunston Hill Hospital jut up the road from where I lived.  

I had never been in hospital before and it was a truly hideous experience to go through at that young age.  I had only been in a few days when three people had died on the ward.  I was only a child and scared out of my mind.  After eight or nine days I had another of those horrible bad turns.  I awoke disorientated in a bright room, fuzzy and unfamiliar it seemed to move all over the place.  My body felt like a tonne weight, as if someone was sitting on me.  Tired and dazed faces appeared as if from nowhere, moving in slow motion making me violently sick.  It was a deeply disturbing time, I felt very abandoned and isolated, a terrifying time that has haunt me ever since.  They operated on me but there were complications.  In just three weeks I had went from a vibrant young working class girl working on the counter in Boots to lying confused and paralysed from the chest down.  

At first there was a lot of confusion regarding what had happened but we eventually found out I had Epilepsy.  These seizures and episodes had caused me to permanently loose my sight.
When I first lost my sight I thought my whole world had collapsed and I fell into the depths of despair, which was the most terrifying place to be.  The days were long and lonely, my brothers and sisters were at school, work or married.  My friends had disappeared.  I spent most of my time in my bedroom listening to the radio; I felt isolated and didn't feel part of the family anymore.  I was so unhappy.  I eventually came to realise that nobody in this world owed me anything and if I wanted to succeed in life then it was up to me to do something about it.  I had to let go of what I had lost and think about the future not the past.  After all that is the one thing you cannot change!  

I began to set myself goals and was determined to go after my dreams and if I didn’t succeed at first then I would try again and again and again until I did.  I set small ones at first, building up each time, ensuring I kept moving forward despite the set backs and obstacles, overcoming adversity.  What might seem like a small victory can lead to amazing things and it all begins with that first step, that leap of faith.  It's all about think and focusing on what we can do and still very capable of if we put our minds to it.  Never give up on yourself and always remember that we are all equal in this world, no one being better than the other.  Always believed in yourself and remember that everything is possible.  Stand tall, be strong, go forward and don't look back.

By doing just this I managed to do so much, somethings I would never have imagined I could have achieved back when I was stuck in my bedroom, isolated and in deepest moments of despair.  I had learned Karate for a few years when could see.  I decided not to let my condition stop me and began to learn once again.  I had always wanted to get to black belt and set this as my goal.  It was hard at first but eventually I managed it on January 1979, after training for 7 years.  I was the first blind female black belt in the world.

My Stella Williams trophy award for outstanding achievements in Karate at the Kata championships in Chester 1978.

In  the early 1980's I was in the first blind rugby team in country.  Trainers from overseas came over to teach our group.  They were also blind and had set up similar teams in there own country.  We trained at Gateshead cricket club.  I had been the first female to join all male team.

Myself at the age of 28 in 1982 when I played with an all male blind rugby team which is thought to have been the first match of it's kind ever to be played in Britain.

I also joined in the track and field squad at Gateshead, even competing in The National Games for the blind.  I achieved Gold, silver and bronze for the Shot put, Discus, Javelin, Long jump, High jump and 100m sprint.  I was selected for the Great Britain squad and had began training for the Paralympic Games in Los Angles.  Unfortunately this was cruel cut short when I had to stop due to husbands accident.

Blind Athletics UK Championships

Gateshead Blind Athletes

At the age of 25 I was the first person ever to receive the Wilkinson Sword Award for outstanding achievement in sport and I am still the only woman to ever have be awarded it in 36 years.  I believe that the world can be our oyster and life is what we make if it.  It is up to us which pathway we choose to go down.

Wilkinson Sword Award. Picture above is Christine with coach Sandra Coates at the 1979 Sports Awards. Picture below is Christine with the Wilkinson Sword and the Silver Salver award.

Me and winner Steve Black at the 30 year anniversary of the Wilkinson Sword awards.

If we long to reach our dreams and goals in life whatever they may be, disability or no disability, we can succeed.  Don't let anything or anyone dampen your morale or stand in the way of you reaching your goals.  The key to the door and to success is to have confidence, faith, hope, determination and most of all belief in yourself.  So whatever the reason for your disability or illness remember there is always a way forward.

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Friday, 24 June 2016

Daft as a Brush Garden Party

I'm always really pleased to hear from Brian Burnie as we go back a long way and I love him to bits.  I was delighted when he asked if I would come along to sing and entertain for the Daft as a Brush Garden Party.  This yearly event is an amazing chance to meet the volunteers, people who have donated and offered their help for this fantastic local charity.  Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care offers staffed custom-made vehicles to transport outpatients, free of charge, to and from hospital who are undergoing Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy cancer treatment.  

daft as a brush cancer patients care
Me by the gates at the Daft as a Brush entrance

It was a fabulous day and thank you to everyone for making me feel so welcome, it was great to catch up with you all again.  The food was outstanding as usual and even weather did its part as it turned out pretty nice in the end.  It was good to see everyone getting stuck in, having a laugh and really enjoying themselves.  

everyone enjoying themselves at daft as a brush garden party
Everyone posing for a photo by the marquee

I entertained and sang to everyone throughout the day but think the Hokey Cokey was the one to get people off their feet and in the party spirit.  My son Ryan came along to film me which was great, even if he did get a little carried away joining in with the words!  

The highlight for me on the day was going up in the cherry picker with Brian. This was a first for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  At first I was not quite sure what I was install for, but I am never one to avoid a challenge.  We climbed aboard and started to set up my guitar and microphone as the gathering crowd looked on in stunned surprise. 

christine deponio and brian burnie in a cherry picker
Me and Brian getting into the cherry picker 
going up in a cherry picker with brian burnie from daft as a brush
Getting ready to perform as the cherry picker starts to raise

up 30m in a cherry picker singing for the daft as a brush garden party
Me 33 metres up singing to the crowd

It was a fabulous experience and one I certainly will not forget.  Overall I had a great day and hope everyone else did too.  Brian you're a real star and doing an amazing job along with all your dedicated volunteers.  It was also a day to celebrate as Daft as a Brush received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of the outstanding work they do for the community.  This really is a huge honour as it is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.  To learn more about the Queen's award click here.

christine and brian from daft as a brush
Me an Brian Burnie founder of Daft as a Brush

I would recommend volunteering for Daft as a Brush as they really do make a big difference to a lot of peoples lives and are an excellent organisation to work with.  They really depend on volunteers support to operate their transport service, as well run their shop in Eldon Square and for much needed fundraising.  

It cost approximately, £100,000 per year to run the the Daft as a Brush Service.  If you would like to donate it is very easy and a link can be found by clicking here.  

If you are local you may want to help them out with a few hours a week or maybe longer, just click here for further information on how you can help.

We had a fantastic time at the Garden Party and I would definitely do this again as we had a real laugh for a great cause.  I look forward to catching up with all the lovely friends I met thereboth old and new, in the near future. 

If you would like to learn more about Daft as a Brush and the work they do you can visit their website at:

And also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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