Thanks to everyone who contributed to our Kitchen Appeal and helped us raise £7000.
In January 2014 we closed for a three week period, to carry out the refurbishment. This involved laying a new floor, re-tiling the kitchen, fitting new units, worktops, plumbing in new sinks, installing electrics and discovering a beautiful 25 foot well of crystal clear water beneath our kitchen floor.
We are very grateful to those in the Sangha who helped us with this who donated their time often for free or at a significantly reduced cost . To Nick & Jackson who helped pull out the old kitchen. Mat & Stephan for their plumbing & electrical skills. Special thanks to Robert Patch who hand built the units and helped us plan and install it and to Chris O'Donoghue who helped fit it. The retreat centre has greatly benefited from their generosity and we are delighted that in March 2015 we retained our 5 star food hygiene rating for our kitchen and food preparation.
Shrine Room Improvements
During 2014 once again a group of friends gave their time and skills for free to help us continue to care and improve Rivendell for the benefit of retreatants. Our shrine room kit needed replacing so an industrious sewing bee was formed to make new cushions and covers for our meditation mats and blocks for our shrine room. Grateful thanks particularly to Helen Broughton, Beccy Howie, Sinhachandra, and Elke Dipper for all their hard work.
We are also very grateful to Amodana who generously gave us a cash donation to allow us to purchase fabric to make new fleece blankets to replace our rather worn old ones.
During 2015 we have continued shrine room refurbishment installing new radiators and improve air flow by opening up the window above the shrine. The new shrine hangings around window now bathes the shrine room with golden light. The White Tara Tangka has been carefully moved and re-framed to hang beautifully above the shrine room fireplace. Once again thank you to all our volunteers particularly Stephan Gardiner who helped us with this project.
Rivendell in the Community
It has been delight to host 1st East Grinstead Dolphin Scout Troop and Cub consisting of 28 girls and boys aged 11-14 and 5 leaders. "The scouts’ training focuses on 6 elements, one of which is ‘beliefs and attitudes’ which is meant to encourage them to discover the world of beliefs outside as well as within their own culture, some of which differ from their own and which may even challenge those previously held beliefs, but which are meant to help to develop a personal set of values following the Scout law and promise."
We have also been visited by a Cub Scout pack from Goudhurst in Kent who were completing their Faith Badge. As part of this the children need to visit a place of devotion that is different to their own and to learn about the people involved, and what they do. As well as learning about objects, customs, stories and traditions.
It was great that Janis awarded them all their Faith Badges. A very worthwhile evening for all "So lovely to meet you at last! Wow! We all had a fantastic time! It was fascinating to learn all about it, your team were fantastic! Thank you so very much."
Veterans Meditation Project
It has also been fantastic to host a Veterans retreat for the London Meditation Project. This project is for people who have returned to the UK from military service overseas, recently or long ago. It’s to assist people who feel deeply effected by their experience of serving in conflict and may be finding coming home difficult. Meditation can be of real value in the healing process for military veterans, including those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress caused by experiences in war. We very much hope to host another one in the future.
Community Placements Kent Police College
Over the last 5 years Rivendell have been offering 'Diversity placements' as part of Kent police's (Core Leadership Development Programme) designed for more senior officers and members of staff who are looking to develop themselves professionally and/or personally. These placements/experiences our for officers to help broaden their awareness of what issues affect the vast range of our society, keeping them more in tune with the demands of modern policing. As part of this programme we have been priviliged to host several officers a year on our Introductory to Buddhist Meditation Weekends.
We are also pleased that Rivendell is regularly used by groups providing Carer's breaks. These are for people who are full time carer's for old, ill or disabled relatives. Here is what one group have written about their experiences:-
"Many of the team’s carers are from the local black asian, minority ethnic community, and over the last five years many of them have benefited from going to Rivendell Retreat Centre, in the heart of the Sussex countryside on carer breaks. Alongside leisure activities, carers learnt about their particular stress patterns and how to manage them more creatively through use of ‘mindfulness’ techniques (meditation, relaxation and gentle exercises). The intention is not so much a one off ‘respite’ from stress and anxieties so common in the caring role, but to help resource carers so that they can manage their life and work better and hopefully pass these skills on to others."
As the team prepare the next trip, carers have been giving feedback with one explaining how they feel newly empowered. “Although my problems will still be there and I will probably still panic inside when things are bad, I hope to be able to reach a calm place with the skills you have given me.”
We are very grateful to people who have donated money to purchase items recently. Amodana provided a very generous donation requesting that we use it to purchase new blankets for the shrine room.
A big thank you to Jane Kaill who came on retreat and wanted to improve facilities in one of the bedrooms for future retreatants kindly gave us a some of money to purchase a new memory foam mattress.
In addition a neighbour kindly donated us a summer house which we have rebuilt, cleaned and weatherproofed to provide a beautiful place for people to sit in the garden.
A huge thank you to Stephan Gardiner who has steadily been rewiring the house over recent years and for giving some of his time for free on decorating retreats.