Press Release



Community leader, Jo Evans BEM, announced her retirement at Rotherfield St Martin’s joint AGM and 10th year anniversary celebrations on 23rd November at St Denys’ Church, after 15 years of leading RSM.

The ceremony was attended by over 150 well-wishers, members and volunteers.  Guests included Peter Field (HM Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex), Barby Dashwood-Morris (Chair of Wealden District Council) and Polly Evans (South East Today).

RSM Chair Andy Miller, Barby Dashwood-Morris and HM Lord Lieutenant all gave speeches praising Jo for her work supporting the health and wellbeing of older people in the village of Rotherfield, as well as her work in working with other communities to set up similar models.  Dr John Davies from Rotherfield & Brook Surgeries spoke about the impact the work of RSM had on patients’ health and the difference it has made to so many lives.

Jo set up RSM after she realised that many older people’s illnesses were made worse by loneliness.  She believed that older people could remain healthy and happy in their own homes and communities.  Ten years after the RSM’s Centre’s official opening with 6 members, RSM now looks after over 350 members in the local area.  Last year, it organised over 500 volunteer drives to health appointments, ran 180 exercise classes, 160 social activities and a 3 day Holiday at Home programme. The whole village is involved, including other community groups, the local primary school and local residents who volunteer their time.   Jo has also mentored other communities across Wealden to set up their own support projects including Forest Row, Mayfield, Hurstmonceux and Buxted 

Responding to the changing needs of the village, RSM has now started supporting those living with Dementia and their carers and was recently awarded £16,500 from Awards for All, Charles Hayward Foundation and East Sussex Women of the Year to develop this work.  The aim is to make the village of Rotherfield a Dementia Friendly Community.

Jo says ‘After 15 years, I have decided to hang up my RSM cloak! I am so grateful to everyone in Rotherfield and beyond for supporting the charity and me in particular. RSM would never have succeeded if wasn’t for the belief, trust and amazing generosity of spirit of the people of Rotherfield.  I am amazed at how the charity has grown and very proud that we have been able to support other villages to set up similar projects.  I step down immensely proud of all that has been achieved and excited about what RSM will achieve in the future.’



Notes to editors

RSM officially opened its doors in 2005 and 2015 is our tenth year. The annual ‘Holiday at Home’ has been running since 2001 and Jo ran the first ‘tea and cake’ afternoon in 2000.

In 2013, Jo was awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Years’ Honours list and also received a Centre for Social Justice award. In 2014, RSM was recognised as a UK Public Health Hero by Jane Ellison MP.

In 2015, RSM was shortlisted for a Third Sector Award, ran its 15th annual Holiday at Home and Jo was invited to the Palace of Westminster by Nus Ghani MP to meet Jeremy Hunt at a Dementia Friends event.

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