The Santa’s Sleigh is very much a central aspect of RTBI. I guess people will have heard or seen how Table organises Santa and a Sleigh to travel around different communities collecting money, gathering and distributing gifts. There’s only one Santa (obviously) but other Tablers will take turns over a number of nights to act as Santa’s Helpers, connecting with the community and sometimes talking about Round Table. Many members will talk about deeply moving moments on these journeys, precious moments with children and families; times that demonstrate just how kind and generous we can be and the difference that kindness can make to families struggling to make ends meet.
However, Carrick in Scotland’s Santa has another special visit that the local Table are particularly proud and dedicated to. Their Table area includes a place called Whiteleys Retreat. The Retreat specialises in support for children and their families who have cancer and/or life limiting illnesses. It came into being several years ago as a result of several major corporate partners and volunteers recognising the need for it when a larger centre closed in a nearby town.
Carrick Table originally got involved by visiting Whiteleys to find out more about it and subsequently did some extra fundraising - though they acknowledge the centre is generally well provided for. It was through discussions with the team at Whiteleys that the Santa’s Sleigh plan was formed. The Sleigh was something quite magical that Carrick Table could offer to really make a difference to the time a child and their family have together.
And so, for the last three years, always working around COVID restrictions, Carrick Table has taken the Sleigh, pulled by a very accommodating farmer and tractor down the drive, to the doorway of Whiteleys. The families are ready and waiting, properly consulted and prepared to spend time together talking to Santa, sitting in the Sleigh, taking photographs and enjoying the magic.
“We share out Helper duties with only one or two accompanying Santa to ensure a calm and intimate atmosphere is preserved. Everyone wants to help but all know how hard this can be.” Andrew Thorne a local Tabler and police officer talks of Table members being amazing with families and then walking away with a lump in their throats given the emotion of such moments.”
“It’s so often not about money, the work we do, it’s the difference we can make to individuals, families andcommunities by being there, by showing up or by thinking a little differently about how we might be able to help. We know this makes a difference to the families, sharing this precious Christmas together, but it means so muchto us too.”
Part 2 - It's Just an Old Building - Remembering Community and Building Community
In talking with Andrew he also shared another wonderful Table story from Carrick. It started when a very active Table member some years earlier, was sadly killed in a road traffic accident. Well known for his love of sport, energy and the enthusiasm he had contributed, Carrick Table responded by building and naming a Sports Pavilion after him.
Over a number of years, the Pavilion had fallen into disrepair with his name barely visible on the signage. And that might have been the end of the story if Andrew had not been looking through an old Minute Book and seen the origins of the building.
A number of things then came into play, the Table felt they wanted to do something to avoid this important story being lost, the local Junior Rugby Team were looking for a new place to practice and the local community and council were recognising the importance of promoting sport and exercise for everyone, but particularly young people.
So, in a very Round Table way, they got people together, created a plan and put it into practice. Working with the Carrick Sports Hub and local authority, funds were secured and raised for the Pavilion to be refurbished. Local builders did the main structural work but Tablers followed in offering their time and energy to clean, paint and decorate until the whole thing was ready. It included new signage naming the pavilion in honour of David Sommerville, the Round Table member they had lost.
But Carrick Table didn’t stop there, they worked alongside the rest of their community to create the “Sommerville Sports Festival” - an open day showcasing all the local sports clubs and groups that invited the local community and young people to come along and have a go.
"It’s a fantastic way to introduce young people to new sports, they can have a go, meet the people already involved and it works as a wonderful way to recruit new people which is great for the clubs and great for the young people too. We are careful to put the Archery Club well away from the other activities and the Carrick Rugby Club Assault Course is always popular.”
When the Pavilion was officially opened and the Festival launched everyone was proud but the Table had gone even further. After first checking in with David’s surviving wife they had contacted his sons and invited them along. It was quite a journey for Paul who now lives in South Africa but what an amazing thing to see and be part of. All those years on his Dad and family still remembered and part of this important community.
Andrew added that one of the Tablers involved in the renovation is now involved in running the Junior Rugby Club and membership has increased seven-fold. Another example of what people can do when they work together, recognising the importance of friendship and community across time and miles.
Andrew Thorne was introduced to Carrick Round Table in this rural part of Scotland when he was newly moved to the area and didn’t really know anyone. A local farmer spoke to him and invited him to the pub to meet some friends who were also Table members he describes this as a lovely gentle introduction, and he’s been a member ever since. As one of a dozen men in this Table, he speaks about the kindness, friendship and camaraderie of Table, the difference it makes to him and the difference he sees it making in their community.
Round Table (RTBI) is a young man / men's club for those aged between 18 and 45. RTBI supports charities, the local community and its individual members through friendship and brotherhood. As part of the Round Table Family, RTBI is an inclusive organisation open to all individuals no matter their age or gender identification. To find out more visit our FAQs page or Contact Us.