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HRH The Duchess of Cambridge formerly opens Kensington Aldridge Academy and the Kensington Leisure Centre

Yesterday HRH The Duchess of Cambridge officially offended the new Kensington Aldridge Academy and Kensington Leisure Centre.  The new facilities stand on the site of the former leisure centre where, during their time at Wetherby School, both Their Royal Highnesses The Duke  of Cambridge and Prince Harry had swimming lessons.

Her Royal Highness toured the academy, met Principal David Benson, students and staff, and sat in on a geography and RE lesson.  The Duchess then enjoyed a short presentation from students in the theatre before unveiling a plaque to commemorate her visit (and being given a posy from 3 year old Florence Aldridge).  Before leaving the Duchess visited the academy’s Creates Hub for young entrepreneurs, and met students are are designing items for sale at Portobello Road Market.

Her Royal Highness then took a short walk to the leisure centre, due to open to residents of Kensington in March, to tour the state of the art facilities and watch sporting displays from local primary school children and other community groups.  She then attended a reception to meet those involved in the project and unveiled a plaque to mark her visit to the leisure centre.

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Images & Copyright:  Lucy Elliott / www.lucyelliottphotography.com

The Launch of ‘The Second Half Of Your Life Foundation’

The Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea Councillor Mrs Julie Mills, together with Ruby Wax, Judith Owen and ex investment banker, Jill Shaw Ruddock launched ‘The Second Half of Your Life Foundation’ at the Town Hall.  The event was surprisingly relaxed but with a serious message. More older people than ever are living longer, but alone.  Loneliness and social isolation in the UK is at an all time high with some 300,000 pensioners not speaking to family or neighbours in a month.  This is nothing short of appalling. On the strength of her recent international best seller ‘The Second Half of Your Life’ and recognising that the over 50s should be entering the best phase of their lives, Jill decided to launch The Second Half Of Your Life Foundation.  The centre will be housed within St Charles NHS H0spital in North Kensington.  Mayor Julie Mills has selected this as one of her charities and has created a bursary programme from private donations throughout the borough to ensure the underprivileged can attend either a full morning or afternoon of activities, plus a meal for a nominal fee of £2.00. The centre is appropriately sited in North Kensington, which has the unfortunate stigma of being one of the most deprived areas in London.  Loneliness is not class based, and the purpose of the Foundation is to provide a place for all over 50s whatever their background, to come together – share a hobby, connect socially, learn new skills, and become psychologically and physically healthier. Workshops will be available on diverse subjects such as: how to set up your own business, jewellery making, Bridge, current affairs, art for fun and learning, computers (emailing, internet and social networking) and a book club.  Physical exercise, diet and mental health will also be addressed by way of lecture series and excise classes.

For a long time now I have been concerned with the lack of social integration provided in the area and The Second Half of Your Life Foundation really addresses this.  In addition to funding ( for example £50 will enable one person to enjoy 2 activities and one meal everyday for one week), they are also looking for Patrons and volunteers to help give professional advise and assistance on the workshops.  The centre will be available for men and women and once established, it is hoped to replicate this throughout other boroughs in the UK.  If the energy from those who attended the launch was anything to go by, there is little doubt this centre will not be a success and in years to come we will wonder why it took so long to simply provide something like this for our ‘older’ members of the community who still have to much to offer, and who, should be entering the best second half of their lives.

As Ruddock says, “Of course we have to age, but we do not have to grow old.  How we grow old, we can control”.

If you are interested in any of the above, please contact Jill Shaw Ruddock on jill@secondhalffoundation.com

Image:  Ruby Wax and Jill Shaw Ruddock in conversation

Image by kind courtesy: David Tett

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