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Tag: Clients in Action

From Priest to Painter – Gill’s journey

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Chartered client and former priest, Gill Bowman, discovered a new purpose in art. She had always been passionate about art, even studying it after matric, but her faith and community work took precedence. When she was put on disability leave due to her diagnosis, she realised it was time to rekindle her passion for art.

During a life planning session at Chartered, Gill realised how much she wanted to get back into art. She started doing mandalas and found the process both meditative and healing, describing it as getting the thoughts in her head out onto paper. During lockdown, Gill took online courses from the Learn to Paint Academy and the ETCHR Studio, as well as motivational courses from Jessica Serran.

Gill primarily works with acrylics, occasionally dabbling in watercolours. She soon began selling her art and displaying it at local galleries, spending up to six hours a day in her studio creating her paintings. In December this year, Gill will exhibit her work at “Art on the Veranda” in Bushman’s River. She has also been invited to showcase her art at the prestigious Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2024.

Gill has turned her art into a new side hustle and also finds it beneficial in managing Parkinson’s symptoms. She says that painting helps to calm her hands and body, as well as her overall anxiety.

Roy, her husband, has been a great supporter of her journey in the world of art. He helps with the framing and other tasks, and she fondly refers to him as her assistant.

When asked about her new purpose in life, Gill said that she had two choices when her purpose as a priest was taken away by Parkinson’s; she realised she could either choose the tomb and see this as the end of her life – or choose the womb, an opportunity to start a new one. Her choice is obvious.

Gill’s story is an inspiration to us all. It shows that we can always find new purpose and meaning in life, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges.

To see Gill’s art, you can follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Ubuntu in Action – The inspiring legacy of the Donaldson Trust

Mandela Month, celebrated annually in July, is a special time dedicated to honouring the extraordinary legacy of Nelson Mandela. This month serves as a global call to action, encouraging people from all walks of life to embrace the spirit of ubuntu – the philosophy of compassion, empathy, and unity. It is a time for individuals and communities to engage in acts of kindness, service, and social upliftment.

Chartered client Benjy Donaldson is the epitome of someone who embraces the spirit of ubuntu. He actively manages the Donaldson Trust, founded in 1936 by his grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel James Donaldson. Benjy has been involved with the Trust for over 50 years. The Donaldson Trust is the oldest private trust fund dedicated to improving black social development in South Africa. Colonel Donaldson’s profound concern for the rights of black South Africans was ignited in 1935 when he witnessed draft legislation that aimed to strip them of their voting rights in the Cape. He took action by financing the All-African Congress leaders’ trip to Cape Town to lobby MPs and rally public support, successfully thwarting the passage of the bill.

Throughout its history, the Donaldson Trust has relentlessly addressed the profound inequalities in South African society. It has played a vital role in constructing essential infrastructure such as hospitals, dams, schools, and universities, including the renowned Donaldson Wing at Fort Hare University and the iconic Donaldson Orlando Community Centre (DOCC) in Soweto. The DOCC holds significant historical value, having witnessed Nelson Mandela’s boxing journey and Miriam Makeba’s first-ever performance.

The Trust’s dedication to uplifting the disadvantaged encompasses a wide array of projects, spanning education, youth initiatives, HIV/AIDS-related programs, agricultural support, mental health, disability initiatives, and hospices. According to Benjy, the Trust focuses on seed money projects, not ongoing funding. Operating on a pro bono basis, the trustees meet quarterly at the Priory of St John in Westcliff, Johannesburg, to allocate funds solely towards empowerment and upliftment. For Benjy and the trustees, it’s not just about giving funds but understanding the challenges many face and fostering genuine change.

Benjy is very humble about the impact the Trust has made on the lives of South Africans over the years. Yet, the legacy created by his family serves as a reminder that each of us has the power to make a difference, no matter how small our actions may seem.

Unleash Your Creativity and Boost Your Mental Health with Neurographic Art

Are you searching for a new way to boost your mental health and express yourself? Consider giving neurographic art a try. The technique was developed by Russian artist and psychologist Pavel Piskarev in the early 2010s as a way to help people express themselves and overcome creative blocks. Today, neurographic art is popular around the world as a simple and accessible way to engage in a mindful and enjoyable activity that can benefit mental and emotional health.

Some of Gill van Rooyen’s Neurographic Art

Neurographic art is an excellent way to reignite your creativity. As we age, our creativity can fade, but this art form offers a chance to discover a new outlet for self-expression. Neurographic art is accessible to all, regardless of artistic skills, and has no rules or guidelines for what your design should resemble.

To begin your neurographic art, start by gathering the necessary materials: a pen or marker and a piece of paper. You may also choose to have additional colouring supplies such as coloured pencils, markers, or paint on hand.

Next, find a quiet and comfortable place where you can focus on your drawing. Choose a starting point, such as a dot or a small shape, and begin to draw continuous lines and shapes that flow spontaneously. Allow your pen to move freely, without lifting it from the paper, and see where the lines take you.

As you draw, try to focus on the present moment and allow yourself to be in a meditative state. Pay attention to the sensations you feel in your hand and body as you create your design. You may find it helpful to take deep breaths and allow yourself to relax into the process.

Repeat the pattern until you feel that the piece is complete. You can add colour if you like, using markers, coloured pencils, or paint. Remember that there are no rules or expectations for what your pattern should look like, so allow yourself to be playful and creative.

Don’t be concerned about your artistic ability or the final outcome of your design – the process is what counts. So why not give neurographic art a try and see how it can benefit you?

Client Story Gill Van Rooyen

The Healing Power of Neurographic Art

Last year, Chartered clients received a retirement tip from us about neurographic art and the many benefits it can offer. One of our clients, Gill van Rooyen, who had always been interested in art, was intrigued by the concept and decided to give it a try. Since then, she hasn’t looked back.

Gill has no formal art training but enjoys oil painting and acrylics. What she found most appealing about neurographic art was the combination of art and mindfulness. Gill can sit for hours and let her creativity flow, which helps her find clarity and peace of mind. She is guided by her energy, which allows her to create beautiful art that is unique to her.

Gill shared her newfound passion with a friend whose brother was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. It became a healing practice for both her friend and her brother. They spent many hours in the hospital doing neurographic art, which proved to be a therapeutic and helpful activity. It helped Gill’s friend deal with her grief, and her late brother’s artworks were framed and cherished.

For Gill, neurographic art is more intuitive than colouring in. She did a lot of research, including looking on Pinterest and YouTube for inspiration and techniques. The practice of neurographic art allows her to be in the moment, focusing on the lines and shapes she creates. It’s a meditative process that allows her to express herself freely and without judgment.

Here are some links that Gill suggests to help you get started:

Garden Route Slackpacking Adventure Trip

By Louis Marcus Finn

Having undergone a double knee replacement in 2021, my husband Stephen and I decided to relish his remarkable and wonderful rehabilitation and cash in on this golden period of our lives together.

I did some research and found a fantastic option on the Garden Route. Mark Dixon, an outdoor enthusiast with a magnificent protean knowledge of ecology, biological science and nature conservation led our hike. We were joined by a UK couple in their early sixties, enjoying an outdoor adventure in South Africa. Mark organizes trips and highlights the incredibly rich fossils on our coastline, the indigenous trees, geology, insects, marine life and avian specimens. We learnt such a great deal about a myriad of impressive elephant, crocodile, buffalo and hominoid footprints found on the coastline ranging from Wilderness to Brenton-on-Sea. Touching and beholding these 120 000-year-old remnants was indeed a huge privilege.

We covered about 60 kms by foot, nearly all on pristine beaches and traversed the Garden Route and Goukamma National Parks, sleeping in private and Cape Nature reserve accommodation.

The route also encompasses 15 kms of kayaking on the Touws and Goukamma rivers. Much fun and many enjoyable experiences were had, and at one stage, our kayak capsized, and Stephen, Mark and I fell in the temperate river. We laughed our way back to the bank and continued canoeing in high spirits seeing a magnificent Fish Eagle soaring overhead and then roosting on the banks of the river. Being outdoors, enjoying perfect weather and seeing unspoilt conservation coastline was a huge inspiration, physical experience and treat for both Stephen and me.

Garden Route Coastal Meander can be reached at or followed on Instagram. It is well worth the effort if you would like to expand your physical and intellectual horizons.

Winemaking in your Backyard

Written by Errol Allcock

Like many wine lovers, my interest in all things wine began while as a student at university and studying microbiology was an added catalyst. I joined a wine club which assisted me in gaining exposure to a more diverse range of wines. As time progressed, I soon realized how little I knew and signed up for the wine courses offered by the KWV and, later on, by the Cape Wine Academy. These were wonderful learning opportunities and a great place to meet new friends, especially on the practical courses. Holiday destinations were carefully chosen in wine regions both locally and internationally.

As our combined knowledge and confidence grew, we started visiting key wine regions in France, Italy and Spain … these will always remain as highlights of our travels. Visiting and tasting wines at these Holy Grails of world wines was very special. On one of these trips, I met Graham De Villiers, the new owner of Mont Rochelle Vineyards in Franschhoek. He sensed my interest in wine, and by invitation, I spent three harvests working in the Mont Rochelle cellar doing odd jobs but learning all the time as well as making lifetime friends.

We were fortunate to have a wine cellar at home which provided more than a place to store wine, it was often somewhere to entertain friends and, of course, solve the problems of the world. Wine cellars are interesting places where one can develop a special relationship with the wine styles that you prefer.

We undertook a major renovation of our home in Somerset West in 2016, and it was then that the idea of developing a micro vineyard on the property was conceived. We had roughly ¼ of an acre to develop, and this was large enough to plant 110 vines which, by my calculation, could yield sufficient grapes to make a standard barrel of wine. The vineyard development took just over two years and included a soil analysis and preparation, water availability, trellising design and cultivar selection. Our “stokkies” were planted in September 2018, and then the work of training the vines began. We decided on a Shiraz scion grafted onto a robust 101-14 root stock. Each year the vines became stronger as they developed, and we had our first full harvest last year (2022). Following nine months in oak, this vintage was bottled in late January 2023. I am very pleased with the final product which shows typical varietal characteristics, a good colour and soft tannins. No resting for now though; the 2023 harvest will be ready for picking at the end of February. Thanks to my family and friends for their continued support and encouragement.

Phinda, pangolins and a once-in-a-lifetime experience

Barbara and Andrew McGregor’s recent visit to Phinda private game reserve was a Bucket Wheel® item for them. With so many interesting and varied sightings, it was an experience that didn’t disappoint.

Phinda is in northern KZN, situated between the Mkuze Game Reserve and the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park. Covering an area of 170 km², it features seven distinct ecosystems, resulting in an unusually rich diversity of fauna and flora, including many species endemic to the Phinda area.

Having not been to Phinda before, endemic sightings were “lifers” for the McGregors. They included a “flutter” of Black Swordtail butterflies having fun in a pool of muddy water on the road, Tonga red squirrel, Bell’s hinged tortoise, Neergaard’s Sunbird, Pink-throated Twinspot, along with several trees and bushes.

Other highlights included a close encounter with a herd of elephants (in a vehicle that refused to start) and excellent cheetah, rhino, and leopard sightings. However, all these were outdone by a fabulous encounter with a pangolin.

Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are unique mammals found in various parts of the world, including South Africa. They are known for their distinctive scales, which cover their entire body. These scales are made of keratin, the same material that makes up human hair and nails. They are known for their keen sense of smell, which they use to locate ants and termites, their primary food source.

They are nocturnal creatures and spend most of the day in burrows or termite mounds. This sighting in broad daylight was, therefore, extra special. They watched it for over an hour as it moved along the side of the road, seemingly oblivious to their presence and very engaged in sniffing out dinner.

There are two species of pangolin in South Africa, both of which are endangered due mainly to illegal hunting for their meat and scales. Pangolin scales are highly valued in traditional medicine and are used to treat a variety of ailments. Their meat is also considered a delicacy. Pangolins are a sought-after commodity on the illicit wildlife market.

Barbara and Andrew’s visit to Phinda was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They were able to see some of the most elusive and endangered species in their natural habitat, all while enjoying the luxury and beauty of the reserve. They left with a reinforced appreciation of the incredible biodiversity of South Africa’s natural heritage.

Bread – one of life’s simple pleasures

When Chartered client Jeff Lawrence took early retirement from Nedbank in 2016, it marked the start of turning his passion into a business. When he and his wife, Sue, decided to retire, there were three things they knew for sure.

Firstly, they wanted to remain physically and mentally active; secondly, they wanted to live off the money they earned in retirement; and thirdly, they would move permanently to Wakkerstroom, where they owned a property. So began Jeff’s journey from city to country, banker to baker.

Jeff has always loved baking and eating bread, and let’s be honest, the smell and taste of freshly baked bread are hard to beat. He decided to take his passion for bread and turn it into a business, and Country Bread was born. Initially, he wanted to master the art of bread-making so that he could supply local establishments with fresh bread. Over the years before retirement, Jeff read books and took bread courses locally and overseas to expand his knowledge, and a post-retirement highlight was spending his 60th birthday in the UK doing a four-day course for professional bakers.

His business soon expanded, and he began running bread-making courses in addition to supplying bread to local establishments. Currently, he offers fifteen artisan bread-making courses designed specifically to teach all the theory and techniques to make the perfect loaf. Think of any bread, and Jeff has likely developed a course in it ranging from sourdough bread to ciabatta to croissants; he’s got them all covered. He also has a course designed for families and friends as he believes that baking bread together as a family or with a group of friends is an excellent way of spending quality time together and learning a life skill simultaneously.

There is another side to his business as well —business consultancy. Jeff trains restaurants, bakers and boutique hotels in the art of bread making. These courses are customised to meet the business’s specific needs, typically lasting three to four days.

Sue and Jeff’s other activities are their holiday cottages in Wakkerstroom that they rent out, and Sue owns Village Bakery – the local bakery and coffee shop. Sue roasts her own coffee and also makes beautifully handcrafted leather bags.

When asked why he chose Wakkerstroom, he is quick to tell you about this hidden gem in South Africa. Wakkerstroom is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga and has become one of the prime bird-watching venues in South Africa. It is also well known for its cycling and walking routes, quaint shops and restaurants.

Jeff’s passion is contagious. Teaching the art of bread making is not a job for him; it’s his purpose and combines all the things he loves. But it’s not all work and no play. Jeff and Sue work on their own terms. They love exploring and visit the Drakensburg and Mozambique frequently. They like to go away at least every two months. Family is important to them, so they see their seven grandchildren as often as possible.

We always encourage clients to find balance in the areas of work, give back, relationships, money, learn, health, purpose and play. Jeff is undoubtedly someone who has achieved this balance. As Sheryl Sandberg says, “It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a very clear path to happiness.”

You can read more about Jeff’s courses at

Santiago de Compostela Cycling Holiday

We are a couple in our late 60s who enjoy camping, hiking, cycling and other activities with a sense of purpose and adventure. Cycling in Europe was on our bucket list, so we decided to tick this one off this year. We searched the internet for cycling routes and decided that cycling the Camino Primitivo in Northern Spain would be a worthwhile challenge.

The Camino Primitivo (Original Way) is a pilgrimage route from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela (“Santiago”). Historically it is the route followed by pilgrims who travelled to see the final resting place of Saint James. Today there are many such routes to Santiago. The routes are signposted with scallop shells indicating the direction pilgrims should follow. People who complete the pilgrimage are awarded a pilgrim’s certificate in Santiago. In order to qualify for the certificate, the pilgrim must get stamps in a pilgrim’s passport. These stamps can be obtained in churches, restaurants, hotels and lodges along the way. To qualify for a certificate, cyclists must have cycled at least the last 300km of a pilgrimage route. We choose to cycle from Oviedo to Santiago. (315km)

The Primitivo route from Oviedo to Santiago is a scenic route through the province of Asturias, passing over the mountainous countryside to the relatively flat farmlands of Galicia and onto Santiago. After researching the route carefully, we realised that we would not be able to cycle the 300 km route on ordinary mountain bikes, so we did it on e-bikes. Don’t be fooled by e-bikes; you still have to pedal, as the battery only lasts so long! A reasonable level of fitness is required. We booked a six-day self-guided cycle tour that included bed and breakfast accommodation, bike hire, a navigation app, and daily transport for our luggage. Comprehensive trip notes were provided, and we studied the notes meticulously and made sure we were fully prepared.

After arriving in Oviedo, we collected our bikes, downloaded the daily routes onto our phones and obtained a pilgrim’s passport from the tourist office. The cycling route follows the walking route, and where this was unsuitable for cyclists, the cycling route reverts to tracks and secondary roads. The app provided us with the equivalent of pre-programmed Google map routes, and after a few wrong turns, we were on our way.

The route through northern Spain gave us the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery and experience day-to-day rural Spanish life. We took plenty of time to enjoy the views and sights along the way and stopped for lunches in the villages we passed through. The first night was spent in a castle in a place called Salas. We then cycled over a serious mountain pass into Galicia. We needed the fitness training we had done at home, and we were elated when we reached the summit. Another stop was in a small town called Fonsagrada on a festival day, where we watched traditional dancing in the town square. We had the opportunity to meet a diverse bunch of pilgrims in the hotels and lodges/albergues along the way. The evenings were spent exploring the villages and towns and sampling the local fare.

We felt a real sense of achievement when we completed our pilgrimage at the cathedral in Santiago. We joined many other pilgrims in the queue to get our pilgrim certificates. After a celebratory meal and a good night’s sleep, we attended a very moving Pilgrim’s Mass in the cathedral.

One more item on our bucket list can now be ticked off! We were realistic about what we could do physically and found a way to make our dream a reality. Meticulous planning is essential. We learnt that there is much out there for retirees if you just take the time to find it.

Return to self – Margie’s weight loss journey

Chartered client Margie Kennard Davis reached a point where she was tired of feeling miserable. She disliked her body and felt conscious of how she looked; she was living off Gaviscon to try and control her heartburn; she had a sore body and couldn’t sleep. Hearing about someone her age suffering from a stroke and realising her high-risk factor, given her co-morbidities, should she get Covid was a tipping point for her, and she decided to do something about it.

Margie knew all about dieting and had tried every diet in the book. A few years ago, she signed up for the Real Meal Revolution Hero programme, which she began but stopped because she wasn’t committed. However, she was still on their mailing list, and after reading inspirational stories, she decided to give it a second chance.

She admits that, at first, she was sceptical and wondered what a group environment’s benefits could be. She was pleasantly surprised. She didn’t expect anything as structured and liked the intellectual and psychological approach to food and weight loss. As a curious person, she loves researching, so she felt she had a good understanding of nutrition, but the programme gave her the tools to implement it. The group environment was a non-judgmental, intellectual and supportive space.

A significant part of this journey for Margie was changing her identity and her relationship with food and, more importantly, believing that she wasn’t a failure because she had failed to lose weight in the past.

And it worked. Margie lost 27 kilograms in 27 weeks and is now the weight she was at 27! Margie was very active as a youngster and feels she has come full circle and is back in a healthy space. She has undone all the damage she did and described her transformation as returning to her true self. Her new physique is now part of her identity. She has been given her life back and shines; she likes how she now sees herself. What a gift that is.

Margie walks for an hour five to seven days a week; she does two pilates and two to three yoga classes weekly. She feels stronger, fitter, happier and healthier than she has in decades.

Click here to watch her interview with RMR on YouTube

Ladles of Love

Chartered Client Claire Claasens firmly believes that if you have been blessed in life, you must support those less fortunate, and it’s a motto she has always lived by. For three and a half years (before Covid), she volunteered at one of the local schools in Vredehoek. Four mornings a week, she would assist in making breakfast for four hundred pupils, ensuring they got one balanced meal a day.

When Covid hit, and schools closed, Claire began assisting an organisation called Ladles of Love, something she still does today at the age of seventy-seven. Twice a week, she makes sandwiches that she delivers to a central depot and are then distributed in the community.

In six years, Ladles of Love has grown from serving seventy meals at their soup kitchen to one of the most prolific food charity organisations in South Africa. Today, they support numerous other community kitchens, schools, social enterprises, and NPOs with much-needed groceries and other goods, allowing them to reach out further and touch the lives of the vulnerable who need it now more than ever. They recently expanded and currently serve the communities in Cape Town and Gauteng.

Ladles of Love provides numerous opportunities for people to get involved. One way is through their Feed The Soil programme. Feed The Soil is a programme in which compost is made from household organic waste. Feed The Soil addresses the need for “zero-landfill” food waste and the need for Community Farmers to enrich their soil. This helps them grow better and more nutritious produce. You actively form part of their new urban farming ecosystem by purchasing and using their Food Waste Kit for R200.

People can also support the organisation through their sandwich campaign, by donating groceries or by actively volunteering. There is something for everyone.

If you would like more information about Ladles of Love, please visit their website.

Do you have something that you are doing to give back to society, or are you passionate about an organisation or cause you would like to share with us? We always love sharing your stories, so please email us if there is something you would like us to feature.