Ralph Lilley, a much loved volunteer at the VCHP Clinic in Birmingham, passed away on February 2nd 2014. Along with his wife Margaret, a dispensing optician, Ralph made a huge contribution to the operation of the Clinic, especially after the move to the new location at SIFA Fireside in Digbeth.
For much of his career, Ralph had been a customs and excise officer, and following that, a logistics manager at Jaguar Land Rover. It was impressive watching him organise the flow of clients at a Monday clinic, but far more impressive was the interest and concern that he had for all the people using the service. Because he was so friendly and kind, the clients told him their stories. Ralph was so pleased when one of the clients had his artwork exhibited at Compton Verney Gallery in Warwickshire, as part of a national project to support artists who find it difficult to access the art world. He realised the difference new glasses had made in helping this man to create the work chosen for display at the Gallery. When the Lord Mayor of Birmingham came to open the new Clinic, Ralph knew straight away which clients would be happy to stand up, tell their history, and say how much the service had helped them.
Ralph was an enabler, he could see what needed to be done and where the opportunities lay. As a member of the Knowle & Dorridge Lions, together with Harinder Singh Paul, he made a successful bid for VCHP to be adopted as one of their main charities for 2013/14. The Lions organise a large scale Fun Run every May, from which VCHP will gain financially, but also helping raise our profile in the West Midlands. Although he played a vital role in gaining the Lions sponsorship, he made no mention of his efforts to us at the Clinic; his interest and satisfaction came from solely from gaining the resources to help the clients, not recognition for himself.
Ralph was a lovely man, who will always be remembered with affection and gratitude by everyone at the Clinic.