A funeral service for Laurence Silman, who played a major role in helping Trevor Lyttleton start Contact, which became Contact the Elderly, and subsequently Re-engage, was held on September 11 2023.
Laurence joined Trevor on the fledgling charity’s first outing in 1965 when, assisted by twelve volunteers, they took a group of lonely older people from Marylebone to Hampton Court.
Trevor recalls: "Our belief that we were opening up new horizons were somewhat shattered when an old lady declared ‘I used to live in Hampton Court.’"
“But Laurence’s great sense of fun encouraged us to look on the bright side and cherish precious bonds we created at that unforgettable first tea party when we saw lonely older people together, exchanging contact details.”
Laurence went on to become the charity’s longest serving volunteer, helping with tea parties for a phenomenal 58 years and delighting guests at Christmas by dressing as Santa and distributing gifts at festive events organised by his wife Nancy. She also played a vital role in helping get the inaugural tea party off the ground and continued as a volunteer until her death in 2004.
Trevor, who said he was honoured to pay tribute to Laurence, added: “Contact developed from small beginnings in Marylebone across London and nationwide. By 2015 when I retired as Chair there were 600 tea parties a month across the UK.
“Laurence's longstanding and substantial contribution to Contact's million happiness links over 58 years helped make it happen. His acts of kindness boosting the spirits of volunteers and the elderly and generous financial support, are mirrored by his love, care and compassion for all his loved ones.
“These fond and happy memories will keep Laurence's flame alive in all our hearts and may they bring blessings and comfort to all who loved him.”
Laurence's brother Robert Silman generously suggested donations may be made to Re-engage in Laurence's name. We are grateful for this support and thankful for volunteers like Laurence, and their family and friends for thinking of Re-engage.
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