Carol Ellman hosts Bridge Lunch raising £7,000 for Chai

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On Wednesday 5th June, 110 enthusiastic and competitive bridge players attended a Bridge Lunch at Chai’s flagship centre in Hendon.  The event, hosted by Carol Ellman and her committee, raised an impressive £7,000 which will help to fund Chai’s vital work for the community.

Laurence Gaunt was the Director of the Duplicate Bridge in the Main Room.

People that wanted to play Chicago and Kalooki were seated in the smaller rooms next to it. Guests were served coffee and biscuits on arrival and were welcomed by Carol. Play started promptly and a delicious buffet Lunch was followed by a raffle with numerous prizes. 

Wendy Hoffman spoke passionately about her experience with cancer. She said: “Chai is an extraordinary and unspeakably valuable resource for cancer patients and their families. I would be astonished if a single one of us here didn’t know someone who hasn’t been touched by cancer. And tucked away is the assumption that Chai will always be here for people, whether or not they choose to use it.  

Speaking of Joni Mitchell’s song lyrics, ‘You don’t know you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.’ Wensy said: “Well actually we can know...I wouldn’t have had weekly massage sessions to ease the crippling chemotherapy-induced ache in my legs. I wouldn’t have had innumerable acupuncture sessions to address the overwhelming fatigue from radiotherapy. I wouldn’t have had an emotionally detached counsellor onto whom I could offload, without feeling that I was adding to the burden of my loved ones.

In essence I wouldn’t have had access to a resource which was described to me by the Royal Marsden as “a centre of excellence” and “a template of how support services should work”. Children, whether patients or members of families touched by cancer, would not have had access to “safe” play areas and child therapists. 

There are 10 centres across London and the provinces in addition to this amazing resource here. They give phenomenal support to their own local people and reflect individual needs. But the reality is that they simply do not have resources to supply the gamut of supports and services that Hendon Chai does. 

So, that brings me back to Joni Mitchell because I have a particular sense of what we have BEFORE it’s gone. Whilst I was treading my cancer path, my beloved brother was treading a parallel path outside London. I described to him so much of what Chai here gave me; his local centre could offer him many things, with compassion and individually-tailored support, but it’s not Hendon.

My beloved brother died just a year ago and of course that was about his disease, and nothing else. I became very conscious of the privilege I had of having access to Chai Hendon. His experience made me acutely aware of how it could have been for me without this place here. I genuinely did “know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

After an enjoyable afternoon, Michelle Nathan and Kate Cussins were crowned the winners of the Duplicate Bridge and were presented with trophies.

Event host Carol Ellman said: “I was honoured to host what has now become the Annual Chai Bridge Lunch and I am delighted to report a record amount raised of £7,000. The money is going directly towards Chai’s Children, Teenage and Family Services.

I know from personal experience how Chai helps so many people of all ages and walks of life -  and the Bridge Lunch brings in people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to come into Chai, see inside the building, see how special the Centre is and learn more about Chai.

I am thrilled with the positive feedback we have had from such an enjoyable and rewarding day. I’d like to thank everyone who helped on the day and the generous sponsors who made it such a great success.”

Chai’s Chairman, Louise Hager said, “Once again, Carol, Angela and Jacki have organised another fantastic event! On behalf of everyone at Chai, thank you - we are enormously grateful for their continued and loyal support.”