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News, New Groups and Activities!

Rotary Club Fundraiser

Rotary Club Fundraiser

The Rotary Club's fundraiser, Classic & Supercars, raises £61,000 for charities - including £3000 for The Balsam Centre

At Sherborne Castle on Friday 8th November a total of £61,000 was distributed to one national and 18 local charities resulting from the profits of the Rotary Classic and Supercar Show.

Nigel Young, Chairman of Trustees for the Sherborne Classic Cars CIO, said ‘This was a truly astonishing result following 12 months of work by the Organising Committee from members of the Yeo Vale, Sherborne Castles and Brue Valley Rotary Clubs. They are to be congratulated on raising this fantastic sum of money which means a total of £232,000 has been distributed over the past six years.’

The Classic and Supercar Show in 2020 is on Sunday 19th July where the Marque Feature will be Bentley kindly sponsored by Bentley Hampshire, Harwoods Group.

For more information please contact- The Show Secretary: e mail: classicandsupercars@gmail.com Tel: 07769 114211 www.classic-supercars.co.uk

The Winter Fair

The Fair is back this November - Saturday, 23rd, 10am - 1.30pm, raising money for The Balsam Centre! It has moved from the Memorial Hall to Wincanton Racecourse, with a free shuttle bus running from the Memorial Hall up to the racecourse for the duration of the fair. Click to view the poster.

Memory Lane - our Dementia Group - has won an Award!

The Memory Lane Group has won a bronze award in the Somerset Outstanding Care Awards, Supported Living catagory. This is wonderful news and all credit to Trish for her hard work in making this such a successful group - along with her fantastic volunteers who support all those that attend the group. Well done!

Conkers Nursery has moved!

The nursery staff worked very hard in August, packing up the nursery at Churchfields and moving it up to The Balsam Centre, its new home. The decorators have been in, and the nursery has now opened its doors. We are all very excited to be working under one roof again!

We are running a new youth group - The Hive Youth Cafe

The group has been running at The Baptist Church in Mill Street, Wincanton, on Thursdays - 6.30pm - 8.30pm but from the 28th November it will be at The Balsam Centre, same day/time. Click on the link to see the programme of activities. There are several other activities for young people on at The Balsam Centre over the summer - go to the Young People page to find out more about cooking classes, music, and the Teen Drop-in.

Wincanton Trees Walk and Talk

Jonathan Astill, a local arboriculturalist, led a local walk through the churchyard and park on Saturday 5th October to talk about the trees right on our doorstep. It was a great walk - thank you, Jonathan! - and raised £50 for The Balsam Centre in donations afterwards. Jonathan has promised to lead another one in the Spring if you missed this one.

New groups coming into the centre are

An Introduction to British Sign Language , a 6 week course starting in January, Taiko Drumming, a 6 week Japanese drumming class which started in September, along with Sweaty Mama a new exercise class for mums with their babies / toddlers / preschoolers.

In addition to the soft furnishings Sewing Group at The Balsam Centre every other Monday, we have started a second, weekly, sewing group in Templecombe at the Social Club.

Keeping with the creative theme, we have a new Painting and Drawing Group on Monday mornings, 9.45 - 12.15. This is a relaxed art group rather than a class, open to all levels, where you can work on your own project within a friendly group over coffee, getting tips and advice from Rob when needed. And a new Art Class has started on Mondays, 2 - 4pm with Dawn to teach you the skills you need to develop your talents.

We have started an evening Life Drawing Class on Mondays, 5.30pm - 7pm - call us to book a place.

Spark Somerset

Spark now have a desk in the office so we have a new part-time colleague, Helen Fielden. Helen is working on a great new Spark project in Wincanton, finding volunteers to help other people to volunteer. There are some people in our community who would like to volunteer but are unable to. This might be due to a physical disability, mental ill health or a learning difficulty. So she is looking for volunteers who might be able to help - maybe to come with someone for the first few volunteering sessions, support them to take on the role if they have mobility issues, or offer emotional support and encouragement. Training will be provided. If you are interested in getting involved, take a look the Spark website for more details.

Groups returning in this autumn...

The Drumming Group is back! Tuesdays 2pm with Claire.

The Breastfeeding Support group is now the Breastfeeding Cafe! Run by trained mums to support other mums, a chance to get advice and meet other mums. There will also be Antenatal Information Sessions run through the year.

Craft and Play  sessions for under 5s and their parents/carers is open to all, running on Tuesdays, 9am - 11am. A chance for children and their families to play together! Please note though that the group will not be running for the first 2 Tuesdays in September.

IT-Help! Sessions are continuing for anyone with a tablet, mobile phone or laptop they need help in using. We have 4 great volunteers who can give you individual support - but we have changed the group to a booking system - call us to book a session.

Lipreading Classes are returning Tuesdays, 11.30am - 12.30pm for anyone who struggles to hear in noisy environments.



Winter Fair

The Winter Fair

The Winter Fair is returning on Saturday, 23rd November, 10am - 1.30pm, - but has moved to Wincanton Racecourse

The Winter Fair volunteers have been busy all year, collecting all the trash and teasures, toys, clothes, jewellery, jam, plants, pots, books and bags for another exciting fair.

The fair has moved from the Memorial Hall to Wincanton Racecourse but there will be a free shuttle bus back and forth from and to the Memorial Hall for the duration of the fair.

Please pass on the information to everyone you know! This is a fabulous fair AND it is raising money for The Balsam Centre!

glastonbury festival

Getting Ready!

Two Balsam Centre teams and one Growing Space team have another great Glastonbury!

27 wonderful volunteers made up the three teams this year, stewarding four gates within the South East Corner of the festival. Several of the staff joined the teams this year - Sue, Edward, Annette and Celia, and were joined by 2 fantastic team leaders - Lu Jones and John Marsh - and 21 lovely volunteers, some familiar faces from previous years and some totally new volunteers.
We had rain, mud, sunshine, wind and heat - in that order! - but good fun was had by all. A great way to raise money for The Balsam Centre and The Growing Space - we'll let you know the final amount shortly!
glastonbury festival
glastonbury festival
glastonbury festival
glastonbury festival
glastonbury festival
glastonbury festival
glastonbury festival

Bridge Winner

Bridge Cakes

Bridge Tournament raises £3,800

Jane Hopkins opened Compton Castle and gardens for a Bridge Tournament in aid of The Balsam Centre

Jane opened her delightful house and gardens at the end of May to welcome keen Bridge players for a day of Bridge, with afternoon tea and a glass of fizz, raising money for The Balsam Centre.

The weather was perfect and a huge number of lovely cakes were baked by friends and family for the day, and the setting couldn't be more lovely.

The winner of the tournament was Harriet Palmer, pictured here with her prize - well done, Harriet!

Thank you to Jane, Emily and everyone who helped make the day run so smoothly, helping to raise an amazing £3,800!!

The Balsam Video

The video about The Centre that saw the film crew pop in to our groups last summer is now finished! It will allow anyone who is thinking about donating to the Centre to see what we do and hear the beneficiaries talk about what The Balsam Centre means to them. See the video here.

As Seen on TV.....

With Sport Relief in full swing to raise money for charities like ours, our Maternal Mental Health project has been in the news as one of the projects that Comic Relief funded last year. (Comic Relief and Sport Relief run alternate years). Kelly and some of the mums have been interviewed on the radio and tv recently to talk about the project and what it has meant to mums taking part. Now we are being featured in a tv programme following Annie Price as she prepares to have a baby.

Annie found out her mum had experienced postnatal depression and Annie was worried that she too might experience it after her baby was born. So she came along to find out more.

You can see the whole programme by clicking on this link.


Viridor Funding

The Balsam Windows

The Balsam Centre has new windows - thanks to Veridor Credits!

Our previous windows were 30 or so years old and were well and truly showing their age, with serious condensation between the panes. My favourite window was the one in the office that gave the ghostly wail when the wind blew....

Replacing all the windows is an expensive job - enter Viridor Credits to the rescue! We now have silent, draught-free, double glazed windows - this is going to make such a difference, especially in the winter. To the groups that use the Veronica Room - you can now see out of the windows!!

Viridor Credits mission is "to make a positive difference to local communities by providing funding opportunities for projects from the Landfill Communities Fund", which they have certainly achieved here, and we would like to thank them too for all their support during the funding process.

Viridor Funding

Nick Berry from Viridor Credits visits the Memory Group to see the new windows in the Veronica Room


We have signed up to be a part of Give As You Live where you can raise money for us - just by shopping online in your normal way! All you have to do is click on the link, choose your charity - The Balsam Centre - and then create an account. To find out more information, go to our Funding page

masonic charitable foundation award

The Masonic Charitable Foundation giving us a hand!

The Masonic Charitable Foundation Awards us £15,000

We are delighted to announce that the Masonic Charitable Foundation have given us £15,000 - many thanks to those of you who voted for us on their website. We are thrilled to have won the grant; it will help us to continue the valuable services that we offer here.

masonic charitable foundation award

There are many ways to raise money for The Balsam Centre. Maybe you'd like to do something fun whilst raising money...

Is anyone up for a challenge....?

Sponsored Hikes, Marathons and Company Volunteering

Would your company be interested in volunteering with us for the day? Emily Sheaf is our latest company volunteer, spending the day helping people to get online and use their tablets or smartphones. In June Spark came to volunteer for us, running the Loose Ends Cafe one Tuesday - delicious chilli! And Wincanton Racecourse are coming next week, helping us to treat the Art Shed. It's a great way for your team to get out together and get involved in the community - and it's fun!

Robert Frith Opticians completed a sponsored walk for us, raising a fantastic £500 for the Mens Shed Project and our own Berry Bernsen ran the Marathon for us last year. If you might be interested in a sponsored walk, we can even help you plan and reccy the walk with our own volunteers.

company volunteering

Emily Sheaf from Enterprise Car Hire in the IT Drop-in

If you are interested in company volunteering or taking on a team fundraising challenge - or if you have any other ideas - talk to Sue or Annette, 01963 31842.

Previous News....

savour the flavour event

Savour the Flavour Event in Wincanton

It was wonderful to see so many people out and about in Wincanton on Saturday, getting involved in the Savour the Flavour event. The Balsam Centre provided the venue for the Cakes Competition, sold their homemade "Bottom of the Fridge Soup" and fresh bread, and displayed a range of "mood food" - food that will naturally make you feel good.

Best Bake over 11's

Ella wins Best Bake for Over 11's with her amazing house and garden cake!

Best cake decorating under 11's

Emma won Best Cake Decoration, Under 11's, for her lovely sheep eating grass and relaxing!

Best-bake under 11's

Mia won Best-Bake Under 11's for her beautifully decorated muffins, with edible silver and gold leaf.

Bottom-of-the-Fridge Soup

Everyone has a fridge drawer that at some point contains a few bendy carrots, two sticks of celery, and other oddments that didn't quite fit in to what they were cooking. Maggie, our wonderful volunteer who runs our Loose Ends Cafe, has the perfect soup recipe to use them all up

Morrisons, not wanting to waste food which has past its sell by date but still good to cook with, have been giving The Balsam Centre their fruit and veg for the Loose Ends Cafe, and this week donated this food for the soup. Maggie came up with three delicous recipes, the Basic Soup, Basic + Tomotoes, and Basic + Corriander and Lemon, which we sold with lovely hunks of Lovington Bakery's Sourdough Bread.

Jackie, from Morrisons, came up to join us for the day and helped Maggie set up, serve and clear away - thank you, Jackie! And thank you Morrisons, for all the vegetables you have provided for the both this event and the cafe!

Jackie and Maggie serving soup

Fridge vegetable drawer

Take the contents from the bottom of the fridge

chopped root vegetables

Chop the root vegetables and place them in a baking tray with 1 tbsp oil and 1 tsp salt. Roast at 180 C for 20 minuites

other chopped vegetables

Mix in the other chopped vegetables and continue roasting for 30 minutes at the same temperature

Roasted Vegetables

Once roasted, place the vegetables in a blender with some water, and whizz until smooth

You can download the Basic recipe. Add tinned tomotoes and less water if you want the tomato version, or add coriander and lemon at the blending stage if you want the citrus version. You can add anythin you like - and you can use coconut oil instead of of vegetable oil too.


Thank you, Morrisons, for supporting us with this event, and for all the vegetables you have given us for our weekly cafe - plus the fruit for the Craft and Play Family Group!

BBC Somerset Visits The Men's Shed

BBC Somerset visits the Shed

Charlie Taylor for BBC Somerset came to visit the "shedders" last week, to interview them and Sue Place for his evening radio programme.

If you would like to hear the interview go to BBC Somerset Sounds. You can move the slider to start 22 minutes into the show to hear the start of the interview.

Charlie now has his name down on the Shedders Tea/Coffee board, along with the Countess of Wessex, so we hope he'll pop in again to visit some of the other activites we have here at the Centre!


Supporting Families

Kelly and Baby Basics South Somerset

Our Family Worker, Kelly, had a road trip to the Baby Basics headquarters in Ilminster to collect this beautiful mosses basket hamper for one of the families that we support here at the Balsam Centre. Lisa at Baby Basics is providing an amazing service to families in need of baby supplies and we were lucky to be able to work with them to provide much needed support. The kindness and effort put into each basket is amazing. Thank you Baby Basics South Somerset

Baby Basics South Somerset Moses Basket

Visit to the Balsam Centre of HRH The Countess of Wessex on 1st November 2017

The Countess of Wessex
Photographs: Oscar Yoosefinejad

The Balsam Centre welcomed Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex to the Centre in November, with children from both Conkers and Balsam Nursery to greet her as she arrived.

Her Royal Highness had a tour of the Centre, meeting beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and trustees, and dropped in on a number of the different social, therapeutic and support groups and activities taking place that day. In every group and activitiy, The Countess of Wessex stopped and chatted to people, playing with the children in the Balsam Multiples group, and helping the IT learners to download apps. Everyone enjoyed meeting her!

The Countess of Wessex
The Countess of Wessex
The Countess of Wessex
The Countess of Wessex

Following her tour, we had the official launch of the Well Wessex group of charities. The four established charities working together to improve mental health in Somerset are: The Balsam Centre, Creativity Works, Heads Up! and Chard Watch. Each charity has its own individual approach and all include use of peer support to assist in recovery and maintenance of good mental health and wellbeing. The charities have been developing a new and effective model to meet the many challenges and changes currently taking place in the field of mental health.

WW1 Project

World War 1 Heritage Project

Led by artist Sophie Bellars, the community came together to create a series of mixed media artworks to commemorate the men and women who fought in WW1, involving students from Wincanton Primary School and King Arthur's Community School, along with residents of Carrington House, the Guides and Wincanton Youth Club. Wincanton Museum and History Society and the Library brought together documents and artifacts from the period.

The event culminated on the 5th July with historical exhibitions at the Library and Museum and with the artwork on display at The Balsam Centre where we were joined by the Chapel Cross Tearoom Choir who sang songs from the period.


The sketchbooks of Constance Bailward

During WW1, a local young woman, Constance Bailward, was a nurse in the hospital installed at the Priory. She filled a sketchbook full of drawings and verse, describing daily life at the hospital. This fantastic historical resource was one of the central pieces of the event, and inspired the drama created by the students from King Arthur's school.

Carrington House Residents

Women from Carrington House worked with Sophie to create a roll-call of those from the community who lost their lives in WW1, embroidering the names and regimental insignia to create a large patchwork blanket. It was an opportunity for women to come together and talk about how they learnt and used their sewing skills over their lifetimes.

Carrington Resident
The Guides

The Guides

The 2nd Wincanton Guides took their inspiration from WW1 weapons. The Museum lent them some original weapons from the war, allowing the Guides to get a sense of what it might be like to be in the midst of war.

Starting with their initial reactions to the weapons, Sophie worked with the Guides to paint and print onto fabric, and the Guides then sewed the pieces together to recreate the missiles in the form of soft sculptures.

Wincanton Primary School and King Arthur's Community School

Year 5 pupils from the primary school collaborated with year 7 and 8 pupils from King Arthur's to study the stain glass windows in St Peter's and St Paul's Church. One of the windows depicts St George and was paid for by a local family to commemorate their son who was killed at the Somme - St George's face might be that of Lance Corporal Cash. The pupils designed and painted their own stained glass windows to put up in the Balsam Centre for the WW1 Heritage exhibition.

Primary students
The Youth Club

Wincanton Youth Club

Sophie joined with members of the Youth Club to look at the story of a local lad, Harry Hamblin who lived on West Hill and was in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

After joining the Reserves, Harry was drafted into a Navy battalion and sent to the front. After recovering from an initial injury, he was sent back to the front where he was killed. Using a photograph of Harry in uniform, the club told his story through a series of images and text to create a time-line of the events that led up to his death.

King Arthur's Community School Drama

Susan Huggins, Drama Director and co-creator of The Ministry of Play and Director of The Octagon Theatre Company, Yeovil, worked with Year 9 Drama students to create a work inspired by Nurse Bailward’s sketchbook which was performed in the gardens at the Balsam Centre as part of the Sketches of Wartime Wincanton.

Primary students

It was an inspiring day, clearly reminding us of the effect the war had on this one small community, encouraging people to tell their own stories and the impact the war had on their own families.

Many thanks to Sophie Bellars for developing this great project and for inspiring so many others to take part! Thanks, too, to all those that took part, and those that supported it in so many ways.


Conkers Nursery

We currently have no vacancies but if you are looking for work, do drop in to our Job Club on Fridays.

Support Us!

The Balsam Centre is an independent charity set up by local people for local people.

Whilst the work of the Centre is long term, funding for its projects and services is all too frequently short term.

It is largely thanks to help from a fund created by a legacy left by one person, that the Balsam Centre has been able to continue its mental health work over the last few years. The help that this has given hundreds of people is a permanent and living memorial to that person’s generosity.

If you are thinking of donating, have you considered becoming a Friend of the Balsam Centre? This is a commitment to regular giving of any amount, at any interval, by standing order, and even better, if you are a UK tax payer and you ‘tick’ to say so, we can claim another 25% on top of your donation to support the work of the Centre. Become a Friend here!


Give As You Live

We have signed up to be a part of Give As You Live where you can raise money for us - just by shopping online in your normal way! All you have to do is click on the link, choose your charity - The Balsam Centre - and then create an account.

The site will ask for your name, email address and a password. You can choose your favourite shops, or just use their search bar to find the product you are looking for. When you buy in this way, the retailer will donate an amount to us, and you can see exactly what you have donated. This is a great way for people who would like to support us to do so whilst doing their normal online shopping! All the big retailers are there, Amazon, Ebay, supermarkets, and department stores. Happy Shopping! And thank you for supporting us!!

We now have a Virgin Giving charity page where you can donate directly, and Virgin will collect the tax for us! Just click on the button below.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving