I write to you with some sadness as I along with other members of the Board of Trustees of Children in Distress UK have made the difficult decision to stand down and make way for a new board to take control. I also feel immense gratitude, however, which I know my Board colleagues share, for the honour of serving the charity: To have witnessed the skill and dedication of our care staff in Romania; the commitment of our UK staff and volunteers; and, above all else, the generosity and compassion of our supporters who have made such a difference to the lives of so many vulnerable and sick children. To each one of these supporters the Board offers their sincere and heartfelt thanks.
Despite this sadness, however, there are reasons why the current board feel this is the right time for a “change of guard.”
The charity sector, like all sectors, is subject to constant change. This requires an organisation to be able to adapt and meet new needs. The past two years with the COVID pandemic and lockdown have highlighted this even more so. Many members of the current Board have served Children in Distress for a number of years, some from the charity’s inception. While all members have brought great experience and many skills, we have had to ask ourselves whether the board in its current makeup has the specific expertise to address the challenges Children in Distress faces. It would be remiss of us to continue serving while knowing others are better suited to taking Children in Distress forward in the form and environment it finds itself after over thirty years of operating.
We are very lucky to be handing over to a new Board recruited by Anne-Marie Martin and Simon Errington, both of whom have a long-term interest and commitment to CID UK and CID Ro and have experience of serving on the UK Board. I leave the charity in very capable and safe hands and know Anne-Marie and Simon are looking forward to assuming their responsibilities and introducing themselves and the new Board to you all.
Both organisations, of course, have come a long way since the Revd John Walmsley went on holiday to Romania in 1989 with his family and called at a children’s orphanage near his hotel, where he found children tied to their beds, suffering from HIV and full AIDS. Over the years the organisation developed into a wide-ranging service on five sites in Romania, providing for Children with Special Needs, including autism, blindness, together with school refusers.
While Romania has become a more prosperous country and Romanian authorities have assumed more responsibilities for their children with Special Needs, both to be greatly celebrated, there is no doubt that there is still a need for the services Children in Distress provides and CID Ro, ably led by Valentina Zaharia-Smith, is in the process of developing services in line with modern practices for the care of Children with Special Needs.
I would like to thank my Board colleagues for their service and to wish the charity and new Board the very best for the future and to continue making true our mission: to cure, sometimes; to help, often; to comfort, always.