Charity’s work is an eye-opener
Ashford charity Find A Voice (FAV) has a new patron.
BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell will join actress Jan Francis and Ashford MP Damian Green as a supporter of the charity, which helps people of all ages with speech, language and communication difficulties.
Mr Witchell, who famously grappled with a lesbian demonstrator after a protest broke its way into the BBC News studios and was described as an “awful man” by Prince Charles, visited FAV’s centre in Beaver Lane last week after getting the high-speed train service from London.
He described the visit, in which he met the charity’s staff and the people it helps, as “eye-opening”, adding that the ability to communicate was “a fundamental aspect of us, as human beings”.
He said: “I’ve been told about a man suffering with throat cancer who was lent some equipment from FAV, and therefore in the concluding weeks of his life he was able to say the things that he profoundly wanted to say to his family.
“He could tap out his messages, as he couldn’t speak, and therefore he could share his final thoughts. That is a terribly moving thing.”
Mr Witchell, who was the first journalist to break the news of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was invited to become a patron after meeting FAV president Alastair Dutch last year when they were both involved in the Remembrance Sunday commemorations.
The two became friends and Mr Dutch asked if Mr Witchell would like to become involved.
He added: “It sounded such a worthwhile charity to support.
“If I can in some way raise the awareness about the important work is does then that would be wonderful.
“There are about half- a-million people in this country who have some significant difficulty in communicating.
“Now who would have imagined there are as many people as that who could do with assistance in successfully doing something as fundamental as communicating.
“There are very few charities, if any, that are comparable to this one, and that makes the work FAV are doing extremely special and important.
“The whole country is looking to this Ashford-based charity for advice on this terribly important area.”
Find A Voice is looking for trustees. If you are interested, contact 01233 640443 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New patron Nicholas Witchell with, from left, the charity’s Michael Cloughton, Alastair Dutch, Debbie Burden and Rebecca Priest
Nicholas Witchell with student Aaron Shorter and education co-ordinator Sarah Young
Actress Jan Francis is also a supporter of the charity