2016 has been a truly wonderful year. It would be impossible to list everything that made it so special, so I’ve selected five to share. Here’s to 2017 and another splendid year.
Eve Branson Foundation Grand Opening, Morocco
One of the most memorable moments for me this year, was the Grand Opening of the Eve Branson Foundation Carpentry Centre in Tansghart and the Weaving Centre in Tamgounssi.
It was Saturday October 1st and a glorious occasion, attended by local dignitaries, such as the Wali of the region and the British Ambassador to Morocco, Karen Betts, representatives from the US Embassy, the High Atlas Foundation and AMCham, our very generous benefactor Patrick Hull – my own son Richard even attended.
The excitement of opening these incredible facilities for the girls and boys of the Eve Branson Foundation, was unquestionably one of the best days of 2016. I am in awe of their work and wait with baited breath to see what the centres produce in 2017.
Isla Eve Abel Smith
On September 3rd 2016, my grandson Jack and his wife Alexandra had their first baby – a beautiful girl named Isla Eve Abel Smith. She arrived at 3.27am and is a bundle of joy.
My family is by far my proudest achievement and the arrival of any baby is always joyous news, let alone when it's my fifth great grandchild!
I very much look forward to watching Isla grow into her own person and to see her enjoy time with her cousins – they are all so very precious.
Welcome to the world Isla.
2016 saw the second year of the Dental Mavericks visiting the Eve Branson Foundation villages. The Dental Mavericks are a special, pioneering group of UK-based dentists, working tirelessly to raise funds to allow them to travel to remote regions of Morocco and administer urgent dental treatment and instigate long-term dental hygiene practices for the young people and children in the villages. Each year, the walk-in clinics are attended by more and more of the villagers and the Eve Branson Foundation is proud to partner with such a maverick organisation.
4. Laser Eye Surgery
This year also became the year I decided to throw myself into the successes of medicine and undergo laser-eye surgery. I no longer wear glasses or contact lenses following an operation in the Spring. It was such a success in fact, that I can hardly remember using contact lenses at all. It clearly is never too late!
5. Life at 92
As I consider another wonderful year, I feel that at the age of 92, I am blessed to have my health and be surrounded by love – something I will never take for granted.
It is the very thing that drives me to continue to help others less fortunate on their way too.
My very best wishes for the festive season and to a Happy New Year.