Char­ity’s work is an eye-opener

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Royal Correspondent Becomes Patron - By Sa­man­tha Wil­liams

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 speak@fin­d­

Pic­ture: Re­becca Hol­l­i­day FM4015347

New pa­tron Ni­cholas Witchell with, from left, the char­ity’s Michael Cloughton, Alastair Dutch, Deb­bie Bur­den and Re­becca Priest

Pic­ture: Re­becca Hol­l­i­day FM4015356

Ni­cholas Witchell with stu­dent Aaron Shorter and ed­u­ca­tion co-or­di­na­tor Sarah Young

Ac­tress Jan Fran­cis is also a sup­porter of the char­ity

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