Ray was born in Fulham and, as a young child was struck down by polio and not expected to survive. He spent several weeks in an iron lung and was read his last rites by a priest. Against all odds he made a miraculous recovery but was left with lifelong physical disabilities as a result of contracting the disease. Against the wishes of his family, Ray was sent to live at Hatchford Park, a residential school for children with disabilities in Surrey which was a deeply unhappy period in his life.
Ray was involved in several family businesses and was one of the founder partners of Prestige Cars and Couriers which was established in 1982. With a sharp eye for numbers and a diligent bookkeeper Ray was responsible for the finances at the business and was also keen investor, following the stock markets and investing wisely throughout his life.
In 2007 Ray was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and died in October 2009. After his difficult start in life and unhappy childhood his legacy is to support children and young people in Hammersmith and Fulham. The Bender Family Trust fund core costs to keep the Playhouse running but we rely on the generosity of Trusts, Foundations, Corporate givers and individuals to provide added services to benefit families and the wider community.
Ray’s Playhouse is a registered charity that was set up in January 2011 following a high-profile parents campaign to save the much-loved Sands End Playhouse, which had been operating for over thirty years in Fulham.
The Playhouse is a situated in a purpose-built building located in the heart of Sands End by William Parnell Park, and provides a much-needed, stimulating environment for local parents and carers to take their children for stay and play sessions and other child-centred activities. The Playhouse has an extensive outdoor play area, and a light open indoor space providing a wide range of stimulating activities to suit babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Part of the morning stay and play sessions include a healthy eating snack time, where the children sit at tables and enjoy a range of finger foods such as fruit and breadsticks, encouraging independence and school readiness for the older ones. The morning concludes with a group sing-along. These are not a compulsory part of your visit and you are most welcome to continue playing inside or out with your child.
Our staff are well trained and carry current enhanced DBS checks. The team, led by Charlotte, provide a warm, friendly welcome to all visitors and we particularly welcome any feedback on our service. Feedback forms are available in reception and we encourage visitors to tell us about their experience and provide comments on how we can improve.
Ray’s Playhouse relies on donations, raffles, grants and bequests to maintain the running of this invaluable service to all families with young children in the Borough. If you would like to know more information about supporting some of the work at Ray’s Playhouse, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email or telephone.
We look forward to welcoming parents and carers with under 5’s at our sessions open Monday to Friday 0930-1200 £3.50 entry per family.
Support our Champions for Children Big Give Campaign – from the 8th to 15th June 2021 every £1 you donate will be doubled – you can DONATE HERE