Social Value

RSK believes that the long-term future of its business is best served by respecting the interests of its employees, customers, suppliers and the wider community – social value is at the core of its ethos, encouraging positive social impact by contributing to the wellbeing of the communities in which it operates.

Here, we explore a more intimate social value endeavour through the eyes of Zoë, Twig’s Office Manager, whose enduring friendship with 93 year old Alzheimer patient and Dutch national, Elizabeth, stands as a delightful example of how we give back. Zoë, who shares Power of Attorney responsibilities with Marjolein, Elizabeth’s daughter and her best friend of 30 years, was keen to shine a light on the life of this thoroughly modern and unconventional woman. She says “Elizabeth’s life story is not just an individual narrative but a testament to the power of community support. By celebrating individuals like Elizabeth, who have themselves contributed to the rich tapestry of our communities, we can accept that every person’s unique journey enriches the lives of others and deserves to be remembered.”

Elizabeth: A  Life Unbound By Borders

In the heart of pre-war Netherlands amidst the turbulence of a world on the brink, Elizabeth emerged as a beacon of resilience. Born in 1930, she weathered the Hunger Winter, a stark testament to her indomitable spirit as a pre-war baby. The eldest of 11 children, Elizabeth defied tradition by steering clear of the expected path for Catholic  daughters – life in the quiet halls of a nunnery.

At the tender age of 17, she embarked on the first of many journeys and left home to study nursing in Arnhem. Fate played its humorous and ironic hand, as she found herself under the tutelage of nuns. Undeterred, she emerged as a qualified SRN and moved to the bustling heart of Amsterdam where she dedicated herself to healing by working as a hospital nurse.

Her life unfolded as a global tapestry, threading through Suriname, Nigeria, Zambia and the USA. Testament to her eternal independence and insatiable appetite for adventure, a 70 year old Elizabeth booked a cross-country train journey through South Africa. This trip, as most others, was a solo expedition so she could remain unhindered by agendas and timetables, at liberty to explore freely and on her own terms, leaving a trail of connections across the globe.

While on holiday in the UK in the swinging 60s, London cast its enchanting spell on Elizabeth, capturing her heart and ultimately becoming her permanent residence. From the vibrant West End to the serene and tranquil village of Primrose Hill, she spent 35 years living in an apartment in a converted piano factory a stone’s throw from this world famous landmark.

Not just a wanderer, but a collector of stories and international friendships, Elizabeth was a force of hospitality; her home a nexus of cultural exchange, hosting everyone from friends and neighbours to  minor celebrities and politicians, a melting pot of cultures and nationalities. Her legendary parties and intimate dinners, adorned with Indonesian themed menus, reflected her cosmopolitan outlook on life.

In her professional escapades post nursing, Elizabeth became a tour guide for a Dutch travel company, offering open-top bus tours for her compatriots across iconic British landscapes. Her journeys covered London, Oxford, Cambridge and Windsor, each trip a vibrant tableau of her love for culture and adventure. She was personal assistant to respected newsreader Gordon Honeycombe and worked as a cook at Primrose Hill recording studios where she created menus for many recording artists, Kate Bush included. Despite not holding religious affiliations, Elizabeth found sanctuary and community at The Dutch Church of London, regularly attending mass and social events at their City location.

Although never married, Elizabeth experienced a ‘great love,’ enduring two decades. Her other great love, of course, a legacy embodied in her daughter, Marjolein, who resides in Amsterdam. At 81, Elizabeth was diagnosed with dementia. She was initially looked after by home-helps and carers but, despite her stubborn streak and fierce independence, reluctantly conceded and in 2016 agreed to move to a residential care home near Regents Park. As a testament to their ongoing friendship, Zoë and Marjolein work collaboratively with the team at the care home to ensure all of Elizabeth’s health and wellbeing needs are met. They visit routinely every 3-4 weeks and as well as managing her finances through the PoA, also organising her online shopping, visits from dentists, opticians, manicurists and hairdressers as well as a monthly flower delivery.

Even at 93, Elizabeth can be appreciated and respected as an adventurer, a lover of culture, the arts and fashion. She’s a living testament to the wild and rebellious streak that has defined her life, and the lives she has touched have, without doubt, been enriched by association.