On 2nd January 2022 my daughter Olivia and I found ourselves checking and cleaning hundreds of books that had been donated to Dee Drake‘s (Community Winner 2017) The Toy Appeal for inclusion in the Christmas sacks some 11 months later. Not withstanding the back ache, it was a great way to start the new year.

Fast forward 12 months and this new year started a little more leisurely with a long over due visit to Reuben’s Retreat, founded by 2013 Community Winner Nicola Graham

Nicola set up this national support charity for families with children with life limiting illnesses just days after the sudden death of her 23 month old son, Reuben. The family wanted to make Reuben’s short life mean something and so the foundations of Reubens Retreat were created. (Full story here)

I wasn’t really sure what to expect but what I saw and learnt had me completely in awe of what this inspiring woman has achieved. The attention to detail, the level of thought and care for these families and the facilities both physical and emotional are off the scale impressive.

So what does the future hold for Reuben’s Retreat? Well, Nicola and her team are fundraising to convert the second wing of this former Cottage Hospital (it feels and looks more like an upmarket holiday home) into more family apartments with stunning views over the rolling hills of the Derbyshire countryside. All of which is achieved through donations.

With 2023 Inspiring Women Award judging on the horizon, it was just what I needed to remind myself of the impact people like Nicola have on the world and how winning the community award gave her a sense of validity in her vision for Reuben’s Retreat.