Young Patron Reception

Felicity with her late husband Russell

Our Young Patrons raised £10,000 while enjoying incredible views of the Thames at their annual reception held on Tuesday 27th September in the Tower Room at 2 More London Riverside.

Everyone there was particularly moved by the speech given by Daniel Reuben who, accompanied by his mother Felicity, spoke about his father, Russell, who passed away in July of this year:

"Good evening everyone.

May I start by thanking Gemma Goodman for inviting me to speak tonight to you the Young Patrons of Jewish Blind And Disabled.

My Dad, Russ Reuben, passed away in July at the relatively young age of 70. He had been diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis about 13 years ago – MS is without doubt one of the most unforgiving of diseases, but the last 10 years from when my mum Felicity, who is here tonight, and my dad moved into JBD in Mill Hill life was made so much better, safer and enjoyable due to JBD.

Dad was an incredibly proud man and I guess what I’m going to tell you now may not have been said if he was still alive, but I think it’s important to paint the true picture of how desperate my parent’s position became and how JBD really did save them.

We were a pretty normal NW London Jewish family, ok my mum is slightly eccentric and a bit of a nutter, but the rest of us were normalish! We certainly weren’t wealthy, but we never felt that we went without. My dad had worked hard all of his life and had a pretty distinguished career in Advertising – he rose from post boy to Managing Director in his working career, but like a lot of people of his generation he suffered enormously during the crash of the late 80s and to be honest he never really recovered financially.  As a consequence, after my brother and I had flown the nest, they had to sell the family home and bought a lovely first floor flat in Totteridge. They downsized and paid off some debts.

However, things didn’t really improve for my Dad – whilst he had great ability and was respected in the industry– the onset of what was later diagnosed to be MS and the fatigue that he suffered as a result must have effected his working life and he therefore struggled to keep everything afloat.

When he was finally diagnosed, about 13 years ago he still continued to work, but I noticed that following this diagnosis he did turn a corner for the worst. My mum, brother and I researched MS and more specifically his strain of the disease and we unfortunately got the picture as to how my dad would degenerate over the next few years – the thing with Primary Progressive MS is that, as night follows day, you know that the path will lead from being able bodied and living a normal life to lying in a bed paralysed being fed by a tube – the only unknown was going to be how long that period of time would be and we just hoped that it would be really gradual and that he would have a great quality of life for many years.

However, what we realised within a shortish period of time was that he couldn’t cope with the stairs at their flat in Totteridge. At roughly the same period of time my brother and I discovered that my father had unfortunately over extended himself financially, I guess he was trying to keep everything afloat and being a proud man didn’t share his burden with any of us.

My parents and indeed my brother and I were in a bit of fix to say the least. My dad had been diagnosed, they had no money and no savings and my brother and I had young families and to be frank we were not in a position to give them the level of support financially that was needed.

Then, it was suggested by friends that they should consider the option of a JBD facility and more specifically the place in Mill Hill – it was honestly a lifeline. They were able to sell their flat, settle the debts and within what seemed a fairly short period of time move into a wonderful two bedroom flat at Frances and Dick Jane Court.

Can I be honest with you, I wasn’t too happy about it. As like most of you here, I probably had this idea that may be one day I would have to look after my parents, but they were still in their late 50s and I had certainly never envisaged that they would need to move out of their own home at such a young age. My Dad was my hero, he was a good looking 6ft guy that excelled at sport – he had played football for Leyton Orient and represented Maccabi for squash and even ten pin bowling! My mum is still to this day incredibly active and full of life and before seeing JBD I had visions of them moving in to a cold care home type facility which could to be frank destroy them.

How wrong I was.

My parents from Day 1 loved it. They had their own flat, which they crammed full of their own furniture and personal nick nacks, my Dad had his Sky TV and they were able to lead a normal life. Initially, ten years or so ago, I guess my Dad was the most able - bodied, least effected there, but when he passed a couple of months ago he had deteriorated to become one of the most handicapped / inferm.

In the ten years or so that my parents have been living there, they really became a part of the family, enjoying all of the incredible facilities with the communal lounge and gardens being the focal point for daily games of scrabble, rummy cube and quizzes as well as the many parties that various resident threw for everyone. The comfort and security that my parents gained from having the support mechanism of the staff and other residents enabled them to live a full and wonderful life there. My mum was able to continue working one or two days a week as well as popping out to see friends knowing my Dad would be safe.

The friends that they have made will be for a lifetime and my mum continues to have the support of everyone there – I guess that was also a concern for me. Knowing what would happen to mum should my dad have needed to move into full time care or as has happened that he passed away. My mum has the comfort that JBD remains her home especially in this tough period of adjustment.

JBD is an incredible charity. There are many worthwhile causes, but this is one that we all potentially will benefit from. I couldn’t bear to consider what would have happened to my parents should the charity and their incredible residence and staff not been available to them. They as a couple and now my mum on her own are able to have their own home and independence whilst simultaneously having the comfort and security.

We all live in hope that our parents, siblings, friends and even ourselves will never directly need the help of this wonderful charity, but let me tell you first hand that we should all be thankful of their great work.

My Dad’s shiva was held in the communal lounge in Mill Hill, all his friends and family were there and it was incredibly touching to hear from his fellow residents who gave their own eulogy so passionately about him.

We have fantastic memories of my dad that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. He was an inspirational man and our hero. The attributes that made him an incredible person enabled him to face Multiple Sclerosis full on with immense fight and good humour. He was always positive and never complained to those around him.

I think that it was in large part due to the comfort that living at Frances and Dick Jane Court that enabled him to keep his great spirit and dignity that gave him the longevity and decent quality of life for so long.

Thank you JBD."