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Thames Valley Adventure Playground and Ragus: Making a difference in the local community
At Ragus, we’re both global and local. Global because we have industry partners all over the world, from our African, South American and Asian sugar cane suppliers to our beet growers in Europe. Local because for over 90 years, the Eastick family has been a firm fixture in the local community, providing local jobs and supporting other local organisations.
Making a difference, both locally and globally, is a central part of our purpose as an organisation.
Thames Valley Adventure Playground: our local charity partner
Thames Valley Adventure Playground (TVAP) is our official local charity partner. We also support Project Seagrass, an environmental charity devoted to the conservation of seagrass ecosystems, and Khalsa Aid International, a UK-based humanitarian relief charity providing support around the world to victims of natural and man-made disasters.
If you haven’t heard of Thames Valley Adventure Playground (TVAP), it’s probably because you don’t have friends or family who use it. But over the last year, over 15,000 children and adults with special needs visited TVAP, nestled next to the Bath Road in Taplow, just to the north west of London, in the UK.
As Head of CSR at Ragus, I know it’s our responsibility to support local and global charities with financial and practical help. We chose TVAP for our local partner because we wanted to make a real, tangible difference in our local community for people who need it the most. TVAP does incredible work for people with special needs and their families and carers, who often work full-time with no breaks or holidays.
The right support at the right time
Thames Valley Adventure Playground provides adventurous, therapeutic and educational play activities for both children and adults with all types of disabilities in a safe, caring and stimulating environment. TVAP’s respite breaks support families and carers, as well as the person they care for.
Our partnership with TVAP began in 2021 when we donated the funds we would have spent on our Christmas party to help get the charity through the COVID pandemic. TVAP remained open as much as possible, but keeping COVID safe took time, resources and money at a time when the special needs community – who were disproportionately affected by lockdowns and closures – needed them more than ever.
This August, as TVAPs official community partner, we provided volunteers for the charity’s open day. I ran the tombola for the day, gratefully fuelled with lemon cake by TVAP’s Vice President Rosemary Peters. The day brought in £2710 for the charity, topped up to £3,000 by our Managing Director, Peter.
The open day was one of three key events this year: We’ll be supporting TVAP at the Maidenhead Show on 10 September, where they’ll be the lead charity. We’ll also be at TVAP’s end of year ball on 26 November, to be held in celebration of the charity’s 40th anniversary.
Hours and expertise: just as important as pounds
TVAP holds these events for much more than financial benefit: Finding support and spreading awareness come first. To reach as many children and families as possible, the charity needs local people to help at both the playground and at events, and local business partners to donate prizes and volunteer hours.
TVAP Fundraising and Engagement Manager Keith Hanks told me that his volunteers get a lot of joy out of giving their time to TVAP. A lot of their children have complex needs. Looking after them is often a 24 hour a day job, so a break for their families is very much needed. When their volunteers look at the positive impact they can have on kids and carers, they realise what a massive difference their contribution makes.
The cost of living crisis will hit TVAP hard. Instead of passing on those higher costs to families that use the playground, I hope that our support, and that of other organisations nearby, will help the charity to continue its vital work without significantly raising prices.
Our social responsibility: a history and a future
We are and always have been a family and community orientated business. The idea of donating the funds to continue helping our local community came from Ragus’ previous Managing Director, my grandfather Ronald Eastick. Ragus has been employing local people for over 90 years, so it made sense we followed in the footsteps of Ronald and his brother Barry by donating back into the local community as they did when they ran Ragus all those years ago. To continue with this is an expression of the responsibility that has become embedded into our ethos.
Right now, TVAP is calling for corporate supporters for their end of year ball to sponsor the band, promote the event and provide prizes for the raffle. Keith says he wants to hear from Berkshire-based businesses who can spare some time, advice or expertise to support them, because every pound and hour counts.
Joining Ragus in 2017, Henry is the fifth generation of the Eastick family to work in the business. He has worked across our company, implementing plant and technology improvements in the factory to working in the lab developing a knowledge for our products. He focuses on our raw materials procurement as well as leading our digital transformation, adapting new technology and plant to meet our needs. His deep interest in nature and sustainability makes him a dedicated and passionate CSR manager.