It’s a partnership based on mutual trust and respect and involves two of Luton’s best known personalities – Greg Whyte OBE and Colette McKeaveney.
He’s the sports supremo who’s raised millions for charity and she’s the diminutive but dynamic boss of Age Concern Luton.
Greg turned to Colette when his mum died and his father was left lonely and bereft after losing his life-time love and partner.
The former Ashcroft High pupil said: “You don’t understand how important a charity is until you need its services.
“I first came into contact with ACL and the incredible work they do about two years ago. My mother had just died and Dad was from that era when the wife was the home-maker and Mum did virtually everything for him.
“I live in Marlow and my brother lives in Northampton. We both have families and busy lives and although we visit regularly – we’re both Hatters fan – our lives are quite detached.
“Dad had also been diagnosed with vascular dementia but what he needed more than anything was companionship - meeting people and being with people. He’s not a big talker, he doesn’t really do one-to-one.
“But he loves the lunch club. It punctuates his week beautifully. I’ve been a few times and that’s exactly what it is - a club. It has a great atmosphere.
“They also organise various trips. Dad went to the theatre recently and saw a musical which he really enjoyed. It gives him something to look forward to.”
Father-of-three Greg – best known for his work with Comic Relief – believes that loneliness is one of the biggest issues facing society, and the elderly.
“We call charities ‘the third sector’ and we couldn’t do without them,” he said. “ACL personifies generosity of spirit, through their work and their volunteers.
“They’re not about cancer, or dying, and they don’t have the high profile they deserve. They’re under-represented, particularly when you realise that all of us will be old at some stage.”
Greg has agreed to become an ACL ambassador and is fronting a fundraising business breakfast at Putteridgebury next month.
He’ll be talking about his latest book – Achieve the Impossible – which is all about success and how to attain it.
Colette couldn’t be happier about having Greg on board. “He’s an amazing man,” she said. “And he’s already done so much for us. We’re hoping that having him as our patron will raise much needed funds to help the elderly in Luton.”
She added: “Ideally old people should have a loving son or daughter nearby. If they don’t, they know they have us.”
Greg said: “I’m choosy about the charities I work with and ACL offers a truly wonderful service.”