The annual Guy Mason Award recognises someone who has made a particularly significant contribution to the work of the Friends over the last year. For 2018, the Friends’ Committee has decided to make a posthumous award, to Valerie Margaret Farbridge. When she died in 2014 at the age of 84, Val Farbridge left a legacy to the Friends, which eventually totalled the amazing sum of £373,000.
Val was born in 1930 in Lee Green. She began a career in market research in the later 1950s with Unilever, soon moving to become the first field Worker for National Opinion Polls. She played a prominent role in helping the company to become one of the leaders in the field, and in 1981 she was elected Chairman of the Market Research Society, and subsequently to an Honorary Fellowship of the Society. For 20 years, in the 1970s and 1980s, Val volunteered on a weekly basis at the Social Care Unit (one of the precursors of The Connection at St Martin’s). She used her professional skills to interview homeless people and dispense charitable funds with wisdom, enthusiasm and good judgment. Roger Shaljean, who was then the Director of the Unit, remembers her as a keen and trustworthy volunteer, who was ready to do whatever was required at the time. After retirement, Val lived in Hythe in Kent, and was deeply engaged with community activities in that area. She remained a Friend of the Connection till the end of her life, and her extraordinarily generous legacy has made a huge contribution to furthering the work of the Connection.