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The Gaddesden Society

Despite the seeming return of winter after a glimpse of spring a couple of weeks ago, we have enjoyed a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend and I particularly enjoyed marshalling the Gaddesden Gallop runners to their personal best performances in hot conditions.


This year we have had two excellent talks: ‘Happy House’, an uplifting tale of an orphanage in Kenya in the depths of winter, by Russell and Tash Wenman, and ‘Greg’s War’, brilliantly researched and illustrated by Andrew Sheard about his grandfather’s experiences as a WW1 pilot exactly 100 years ago. By the time of publishing we will have completed our AGM, with the existing committee continuing their untiring work on behalf of the village. Thank you very much to all of them for their unstinting support, however after 12 years I am standing down as President as work pressures become greater. Please consider filling this village role if you feel able: I will be around to help out and can tell you more about it.


We then have a break from talks in order to allow for holidays and, of course, training for Sports Day, which will take place on Saturday September 8th. There will be an action packed timetable of races for all ages from 3 to 93 hopefully with the usual sustenance from a barbecue and drinks from the stall run by the Friends of the School. Any other stalls would be welcome, just let us know. We hope the event will be blessed with perfect weather for a change.


Our early Autumn Talk will be:


Thursday September 27th

Jules Mountain

Buried alive on Everest

Having survived cancer, Jules Mountain took on the tallest challenge of all - Everest, and was buried alive in 2015. Not content with surviving death twice he went back in 2016 and summited.



Hopefully we shall see you in the autumn, but if you have any suggestions about subjects or contacts for talks in 2019, please do let us know as this is your society and we need input from you. You may even get an invitation to share your interests or experiences!

Trevor Fernandes



Many of you will be aware of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force on May 25th. This governs how organisations hold and use personal data and, as such, relates to The Gaddesden Society, as well as other clubs and societies within the village.


It will be necessary for everyone to re-sign up to the email list - will be contacting you in due course and you will need to reply in order to stay on the mailing list. In addition, I would be grateful to those who have changed their email addresses recently and aren’t receiving village emails to let me have new ones.  Quite a number are bouncing back these days.

Mandy Haynes


The ‘Happy House’ in Watamu

For our February meeting, we were pleased to welcome Russell and Tash Wenman, who kindly agreed to talk on the ‘Happy House’ Children’s Home in Watamu, situated north of Mombasa in Kenya. Both Russell and Tash have visited the Happy House and are now able to inform us of the invaluable work that is done there.


The Happy House was opened in March 2010 by Sue Hayward, a former Blackpool hotelier, with the help of her husband, Dave. This provides a home for a growing number of orphaned, abandoned, neglected, underprivileged or abused children, aged from a few months to teenage, frequently living in dire poverty in this area.


Currently the Happy House provides a home for eighty or ninety children. The whole project is run as a large family with the help of social workers. Initially children are in a very poor state; they may be terrified following maltreatment. There were many stories of young children being found in rubbish dumps or even in carrier bags having been abandoned, as well as children found homeless on the streets. Fortunately, these very sad stories had happy endings with the children taken to the Happy House and recovering after care and attention. The aim is to give the children back their childhood. The project was originally financed by Sue and Dave.


Where possible there are attempts to return the children to their parents or other relatives. If this is achieved, a child is monitored regularly by social workers.


After the Happy House was established, a nursery school was started, and this was followed, in 2013, by a primary school; these are separate but nearby.


The children enjoy school. They soon develop into healthy, happy individuals after a period in a kindly atmosphere, with good regular meals. There are professional teaching staff and after-school activities include gardening and sports such as football and cricket.


The Happy House grows a lot of vegetables and is nearly self-supporting. A solar power system has been set up. Popular baking classes are held at weekends. A music festival has been initiated.


Much of the finance is provided by volunteers and benefactors. There is an excellent child sponsorship scheme, which is a significant source of funding. This consists of monthly payments from benefactors, supplemented by gifts and occasional grants. Volunteers wishing to visit or help need to provide a donation of £500 and be able to support themselves while visiting.


Prior to Russell and Tash’s trip, they raised £3,500. They flew out to the site with basic supplies for the school, including stationery, pens and pencils. In fact, some of the money that they raised contributed to finishing the school buildings.


The next step for the Happy House is to extend their educational capacity to educate children up to eighteen years. Clearly this is an important and essential project, providing excellent support for needy children. Our thanks go to Russell and Tash for a most interesting talk on a very worthwhile charity set up in Kenya by a dedicated English couple.

David Seymour

How to get in touch…

Gaddesden Society President
Trevor Fernandes 01442 843498

Gaddesden Society Honorary Secretary
Mandy Haynes 01442 842496

Gaddesden Society Treasurer
Phil Heaphy 01442 842283

Diary Editorial Team

Phil and Rachael Heaphy 01442 842 283

Emma Thon

Genny Snowdon 01442 843834

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