Michael Coker, (President), awards Joan with her long service Certificate

“Fancy getting those awards! Embarrassing but an honour.

Befriending children with the Friendship Project has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing and we’ve gone to places, done all sorts of things, and had a good few adventures that otherwise I wouldn’t have had or done but wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

It’s been great seeing the children develop and become so much more confident and enjoy doing all the activities we’ve done and places we’ve visited so the 20 years has been a real pleasure.

Lisa*, for instance, was a really grizzly and unhappy 6 year old when I met her and wasn’t interested in anything so I felt like giving up! On the 3rd occasion, I took her out we went on a pedallo on Leamington boating lake which didn’t impress then as it was a really hot Sunday afternoon. As I had a kid’s swim costume and towel in my boot, we went to Victoria Park paddling pool. That was different! She had the time of her life and from then on we were ok.

So, we’ve pedalled along Stratford Greenway with my Yorkshire terrier running alongside, stopping for Matt to cook us a bacon butty at the Railway Carriage Café going on to Long Marston shop for an ice cream for pudding. We’ve played hide and seek on top of Yarningdale Common then walked up the secret path with the surprise at the end – the Stratford Canal – where invariably a boat is coming to the lock and the children are invited to help open the lock gates.

We’ve been to theatres, cinemas, and even an orchestral concert doing Peter & the Wolf and the Snowman – all thoroughly enjoyed by both of us!”

*name has been changed.