Our volunteers, clients and staff are sharing their favourite memories from our Connecting Communities programme's events and activities.

The team are looking back over some of their most treasured experiences with us.

If you would like to share some of your own memories, you can write messages and post photos in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

You can also send your memories to Edward on [email protected] and he can post them on the page for you. 

A message about the project from our Connecting Communities Manager Jeremy Child:

Welcome to this new Harrow Mencap Forum for all of us. We want staff past and present, clients and families and volunteers old and new to send their memories over many years in. Any humorous memories, happy memories or stories. Try and give the dates to go with the story as far as you can recall it.

Also please please comment on other people's stories and memories as they come in. Have a discussion.

Please make sure though that everything posted is civil. Anything untoward will be immediately deleted. I am sure that won`t happen though with our Harrow Mencap family.

Some of the memories people have shared so far have been:

Our volunteer Michelle Barnes said:

The special relationship between Harrow Mencap and ComeTogether began in July 2017, and we have had a joint event each summer since … but very sadly not this year! (ComeTogether normally meets 5 times a year on Sundays 3.00-4.30pm at Fairfield Church). ComeTogether members have so enjoyed you joining us for our short service with songs, prayers and a talk, followed by a time of craft and then afternoon tea of home-made sandwiches and cakes. And it has been such fun to have all you friends with us and to buy gifts from your stall. Fairfield has also been delighted and honoured to host your wonderful Christmas Concert in 2018 and 2019. So many of you take part and delight us with your carol-singing and poetry readings. We look forward to meeting up with you again in 2021. 

Volunteer and staff member David Stephens shared a photo of his arts and craft Christmas House project that he made and painted during lockdown.

Sharon who used to volunteer with Harrow Mencap before moving away to New Zealand shared her story.

She said:

Hi folks, I don`t think many of you at Harrow Mencap will remember me, but I had worked with Jeremy Child in the past and he roped me into doing some volunteering in 2011 before my hubby and I decided to join most of my family in New Zealand as my hubby just retired from The Royal Air Force.

I used to pull Jeremy`s leg as he was happy to get his volunteers to do some fun things to raise monies for Harrow Mencap but I could for the life of me get him in the stocks on a Fun Day or to sit in a Can of Baked Beans.

Jeremy used to visit a few Charities to exchange ideas and I would help him source accommodation. A couple of us at the time came up with a naughty idea . We managed to twist the arms of a lovely landlady running the Guesthouse he was staying at to make him up an apple pie bed  with a little dried rice hidden in it. It had made Jeremy laugh when I told him that this prank was played on me back in 1988 on our wedding night. It certainly caught him out. He was gobsmacked when he turned his light off and just couldn't get his feet down the bed and I managed to raise over £100 for Harrow Mencap too from my friends.

I only wish he'd taken a photo of himself clearing the rice and remaking his bed so we could all have had a laugh!!! I have tried the frozen pyjamas out on others as Julia described too.

Anyway I do great fundraising for different charities in Auckland now.

Volunteer Julia has been thinking about fundraising pranks.

She said:

As an active volunteer over the past 8 months for Harrow Mencap, I am enjoying every minute of it, I was thinking back on some harmless pranks that could be done to raise money for Harrow Mencap in normal times. I know throwing sponges whilst someone is in stocks has been done before as has sitting in a can of baked beans which I'm afraid didn't appeal to me.

I did know apple pie beds was a prank to play on newlyweds, and in the past I played it on my cousin in the beach hut. I tried the frozen Pyjamas on a friend  he, was not happy at first but then thought it was a cool thing to do.

A little bit more about me. I used to live in North Harrow in 1967-1982 then the place went downhill so now I live in Eastcote Ruislip.

I worked in the military Base IN Northwood for 2 years in the Nursery, I also worked in its other branch when not at the military base. they were one of my best childcare places to work. I have loved doing childcare.

Jeremy and his wife Josephine's fundraising Party, August 2014.

Jeremy said:

Josephine and I hosted a friends' party at our home to raise monies for Harrow Mencap. This is Josephine's lovely Mother that so sadly passed away in May this year, sitting on our sofa with long-term friend and staff member Michele and long-term volunteer Blair, it was a very happy event that my memory raised nearly £200.

Volunteer Julia Mead said:

My time so far with Connecting Communities has been interesting, the get togethers have been a good way to get to know each other, conference calls have been a good way to keep in touch in these uncertain times. I have enjoyed the quizzes when taking part or doing my own.

Due to the hard work of everyone behind the scenes Connecting Communities is a great success. Long may it continue.

Julia also said:

My time so far with Harrow Mencap as a volunteer collector has been so good. One time as I was collecting in Ickenham Tesco, I noticed all the customers choosing the same flavour crisps, "why?" I thought as there were so many flavours.

Just been on a walk with Harrow Mencap for the first time, a good time was had by all, we walked from Pinner Green to Eastcote Park Gardens then back. some of us had an ice cream ,myself included.

Jeremy shared his memories about his early years at Harrow Mencap:

Dear friends,

I have so much to share with you, but I don't wish to hog everything, as others post I will continue to in between.

So it was actually Monday 1 November 2010 when it was confirmed by Deven that I could have the challenge of generating a lot of monies from community fundraising.

I was determined to make a difference. In my first year I built up a volunteer network of over 70. I negotiated with all major supermarkets and by the end of year 1, I increased supermarket frequency from just 5 collections a year to at least 5 a week. I recall saying to Doreen Luff, Deven's deputy at the time that I wanted to see the day where several hundred pounds could flow in from supermarkets every day and by golly by the end of year this certainly happened 5 days a week and then grew much faster in the following 2 years.

I set up tea clubs starting at the Vaughan Centre which was where I worked Mon-Friday bringing in monies from lunches from clients at the Vaughan Centre and from outside visitors some of which I brought in. It was here where I met some people who have become very dear friends ever since. One was Michelle Clifford who did the cooking each day. I loved her vegetarian and meat spaghetti bolognese especially, and the delicious fruit crumbles she made. Michelle started cooking delicious roast lunches for my fundraising events there too. One of the loveliest characters I met there was Genny who told Michelle and I different stories every day, and Kamini Shah from HAC volunteered there. For many years Kamini worked with me as a volunteer and she and her carers came on friends walking holidays over the years. Michelle has kept me in order since the day we met Monday 7 February 2011. Many call her my boss! In honesty though in the position I have, I really have appreciated having Michelle being firm with me and making sure I don't demand too much from volunteers and I am really honoured with what a good friend Michelle has become for my wife Josephine and I and we have engaged in so many different areas right up to now. When the Vaughan Centre Café closed on Friday 21 December 2012 , Michelle was rightly taken on by HAC first, then Pinner Green where she has shown other grand skills and worked on my other projects too.

Then there was Charles Newman . When I first met Charles on Wednesday 31 March 2011 when he helped Michelle with the cooking, never would I have known what an outstanding volunteer he was to become winning many awards over the years. Charles has helped run so many projects bringing in grand monies for Harrow Mencap. Charles loves supermarket collections and nearly 10 years later is helping me and Harrow Mencap to obtain free food to be given out in parcels to people in need. Like Michelle, Charles and his mother Mary have become loyal friends to Josephine and I and together we enjoy happy walking holidays all helping to keep us young and fit. Like me Charles is an exceptionally enthusiastic person always reliable and conscientious.

Tea clubs that started in May 2011 on a small scale have since turned into major Connecting Communities projects. I can recall the first tea club with a delicious high tea Michele did for Bob Blackman MP on Friday 9 July2011. After the event Michele couldn't believe I had managed to get 31 people together and she was whacked catering for so many! Little did she know that I had been running Voluntary Fund Raiser Lunches 20 years before that. I guess I am gifted to have a knack to just get people together! At the end of the event Jenny who attended the Activity Centre came to bid farewell to everyone and helped relax Michele from the hard work with her happy laughter.

Another early memory was through Ross Hensman visiting a lovely elderly gentleman called Anthony Chambers in an Edgware Nursing Home on a weekly basis. He was such a kind loving gentleman who despite suffering was so cheerful and grateful for my visits. We used to play draughts together and we were both lovers of old buses and politics. The sad moment for me came when Anthony passed away in September 2011 and the exceedingly kind gentleman left a most generous donation to Harrow Mencap in his legacy.

Then on Saturday 7 January 2012 whilst I was changing a box at Odd Fellows Pub Pinner I met a lady called Jodie Spiers. Would you believe I talked Jodie into volunteering for me! In year 1 Jodie did supermarket collections, admin and helped me with Events. From day 1 I realised Jodie's talents and I was so thrilled Jodie started employment as well as volunteering for Harrow Mencap during 2012 and years later in December 2019. Jodie became Deputy Manager of Harrow and Pinner Green Activity Centres. I am so lucky that Jodie too over the years has become a good friend to Josephine and I along with her lovely Mother Joyce Spiers who Jodie recruited for me in 2012. In Jodie we have a lady that is an excellent organiser and thinks similarly to me on projects. Jodie however has hidden talents I couldn't possess in a million years and over the years has helped my wife Josephine with yoga. She, as well as Michelle has helped me develop different skills like cleaning, I shall never forget that day when I brought Jodie into our wonderful organisation. You will see Joyce Spiers started posting her Memories on this board when we started it a couple of months ago. I am indebted too to Joyce Spiers for setting up our magnificent drama club back in 2012 which has displayed so much talent from so many people within our Organisation.

Well there you are some really happy memories of my earlier years in the job. May I now persuade many others to start posting your stories? I have many many more chapters to write and may even be tempted to tell you a few humorous light-hearted stories as well as the business ones if others contribute too.

David Stephens, who works with Harrow Mencap as both a volunteer and staff member has lots of great memories from the Connecting Communities project.

Some of his favourites are running information stands, raffles and dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas time.


Connecting Communities staff member and volunteer James shares his story.

James said:

I joined Harrow Mencap as a volunteer five years ago as I was so unhappy working in a supermarket. Two years ago Jeremy put me forward to be a paid member of staff because I had shown that I could raise lots of money in collections. This made me really happy because I could then leave my supermarket job.

I’ve enjoyed the quizzes, coffee mornings and some of the singing organised by Harrow Mencap and I am really looking forward to the small activities starting up again.

I like being around people, helping and encouraging  others and it’s been really good for me. I love Harrow Mencap to bits.

Our volunteer Bridget O'Sullivan has been giving concise gardening tips over the past 3 months during our Connecting Communities phone-in sessions.

Walks, singing, events and teaming up with local businesses

Stephen said:

Life would not be the same without the walks, the singing, the table sale, the catalogue shot, the album cover shot, bank managers. A bit of fun to brighten an otherwise gloomy day.

Hope you all have all been getting plenty of sunshine and been creative.

Brenda the Bear

Brenda the Bear is the largest teddy bear in the sensory room at Pinner Green Activity Centre.

She has been a great source of encouragement for our client and volunteer Syed, who often has her on hand at fundraising events for support.

Collecting and meeting new people, 2020

Julia said:

Collecting for Harrow Mencap as a new volunteer has been rewarding, I have enjoyed meeting other volunteers , also the Staff at Connecting Communities

Meeting the public when collecting has been enjoyable .My time getting to know  people by conference calls has been good for myself and others .

I thank everyone for making me feel so welcome with the hope to continue my time with Harrow Mencap.

A funny collection story, 2019

Chris said:

Towards the end of a stint at Sainsbury’s in Stanmore last year my replacement (a rather uppity young lady) turned up and told me in no uncertain terms that I was “wasting my time” at the front of the store.

Five minute later a Mum and her daughter gave me £55!

Brexit and You Cross-Party Panel Discussion in June 2019

Making friends, fun activities and meeting MPs and councillors, 2016-2019

Emma was a Harrow Mencap volunteer until she moved away in 2019. She says:

I have had good memories at Harrow Mencap. I used to be manager at the pop up shop and I used to be volunteer to collect money for Harrow Mencap I had good times there with all my friends.

Harrow mencap means lot to me they are like family to me and they give me more confidence, they have helped me lot.

I had good times with my friends on the Pinner Green Easter Egg Hunt and on Pancake Day at St. John's Church and in the play at St Mary Church.

I have enjoyed Alan the Entertainer's shows, and music by John. I also enjoyed talking to the MPs and councillors.

Celebrating Harrow Mencap's 70th Birthday celebration, 4 July 2017

Chris from the Harrow Apollo Male Choir said:

As part of Harrow Mencap’s 70th birthday celebrations the Harrow Apollo Male Choir performed in St John the Baptist, Greenhill at lunchtime on 4 July 2017. We didn’t really know what to expect and this appearance will last long in the memory of the 25 or so Choristers who were there.

The joyous uninhibited reception we received was a real treat and I have to say has not been replicated in quite the same way since. It was something about the numbers and constituent groups assembled on that day which created a very special vibe which we recall with real pleasure.

Since then we have appeared on several more occasions notably at Christmas although I fear any sort of concert programme for the remaining part of this year remains in doubt.

Christmas Show Rehearsals, December 2016

Joyce says:

I’ve really enjoyed the Christmas concerts and I think we’ve had fun in rehearsals. My happiest moments which brings a smile to my face is at the end of the concert when everyone has come up trumps and we get lovely feedback. I know how much effort everyone puts in trying to get it right and that makes me very happy.


Collecting with former Mayor of Harrow Krishna Suresh in 2016

Christmas Concert at St Luke's Church Pinner on Saturday 19 December 2015

Friends Janet and Erica share their thoughts about their first ever Connecting Communities event in 2015

When we walked into a lunchtime gathering run by Harrrow Mencap, on a Tuesday, at St John’s Church, it was the beginning of many new opportunities for us - to learn from Forums and to socialise and connect with like-minded people.  We enjoy many Connecting Communities events.  One of our favourites is held at St Anselm’s Church, where the hospitality and buffet lunch that the church provides, are something special.

Afternoon tea at Joyce's house in 2015

Our Sponsored Walk in May 2014 when Charles raised over £1500