On Monday 3rd June the subject of the talk given to members of Oswestry Rotary Club was the Red Cross – in general but more specifically in Shropshire.  Mr Charles Lillis, who is the Patron of the Red Cross in Shropshire, is a retired Merchant Banker who has lived in Whittington for the past 25 years and is a former High Sheriff of Shropshire so we were very interested to hear what he had to say to us.

He began with retelling how the Red Cross was formed: it really started because of the Battle of Solferino in Italy in 1859 when Henry Dunant, terribly distressed by the suffering on both sides of the battle, set up The International Committee of Relief for the Wounded in 1863, which eventually became the Red Cross as we know it today.

Of the money raised, we learned that only 30% goes to disaster relief overseas, with the remaining 70% remaining in this country where it is used for many purposes, including providing practical and emotional support, wheelchairs and mobility aids etc to help people leaving hospital, offering First Aid training events, attending large-scale disasters (for example 630 volunteers were involved in the Grenfell Tower fire event, supporting some 1700 people).

There are over 200 volunteers in Shropshire alone, with personnel based at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and also in Telford. The charity has shops in most towns which, through donated goods and clothing, help to raise funds.  When refugees come to the UK it is the Red Cross volunteers who help them to access all the information they need to get settled, find a doctor etc.

The motto of the Red Cross is ‘The Power of Kindness’ and Charles amply illustrated why this is so appropriate.  The club members present were extremely impressed and learned a great deal from Charles’s informative talk.