Just got back from a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon up at BENâ€™s beautiful Town Thorns care centre.
Today was our industry charityâ€™s hotly anticipated annual awards ceremony, which it uses to say thank you to everyone who has lent support throughout the year.
The fact that the annual lunch at the Savoy had been downscaled was a poignant reminder of the difficulties the charity has had this year in raising funds.
But rather than being a glum affair, the sun was shining and the event was arguably made all the more relaxed by its smaller size.
Chatting to BENâ€™s chief exec, David Main, and president, Joe Greenwell, over a buffet lunch (and here, I have to take a moment congratulate the caterers for those damn fine cream cakes â€“ a Homer Simpson moment for more than one of us!), it became clear that while BEN has had to make cut-backs, it is not sitting still.
There are some very big plans in the pipeline for a complete revamp of the facilities at Ascot, with lots of new homes to accommodate more people in need than ever before.
Itâ€™s still very early days, but weâ€™ll bring you more on this and how you can help when the charity is in a better position to talk about progress.
I was really surprised to hear just how difficult it is to get aid from some local councils for affordable, sheltered housing. It seems that something of a postcode lottery applies â€“ yet another reason for donating to BEN.
It was also an absolute pleasure to finally meet BENâ€™s bubbly new PR officer, Emily Bird.
Weâ€™ve been in touch a lot via email and phone since she joined so it was great to see her in person â€“ and find out about her intolerance to meringue and balloonsâ€¦ best not to ask!
On to the awardsâ€¦ CAT mag was honoured to be nominated in recognition of all of the great editorial coverage and advertising the team has given to BEN.
We didnâ€™t quite manage to win this year so weâ€™ll be going all out over the next 12 months to do better next time!
Oh dear, that sounds like a warning that weâ€™ll be asking you to get your wallets out!
But hopefully weâ€™ll be able to have some fun while squeezing you for cash â€“ all fundraising ideas welcomed!