Who we are...
Celebrate Life is essentially three people, Wallee, Roni and Wendy. We all have a passion for the arts and combining the arts with a meaningful message. We started out six years ago with the same ambitions as today but much fewer resources. Little by little we are growing. Collaborations have become a large part of what we do, and the volunteer help has expanded hugely, but at the core we are still three people who get together and work out the next events. Below is a bit more about each of us, how our journey has lead us to here and why we do what we do.
Artist and film-maker, you will usually see Wendy with camera in hand at the Celebrate Life events, or behind the AV desk lining up the visual content. Wendy is our in-house designer, creating the flyers, sending out the mailings, editing the videos and creating this website.
She is also a singer/song-writer specialising in North Indian Classical Vocal and traditional Celtic melodies. You can see some of her music here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxhKknxVxujfqrHIxQ4rgtQ
Wendy grew up for the most part in rural France, living with her family on several acres of land which they farmed sustainably while running a small publishing company. She was educated at home and had ample time to pursue her interests, especially art.
She moved to London in 2008 and remembers the culture shock, coming from a place where she could walk all day and not meet a soul, to the bustling metropolis that is London. She now juggles motherhood with her Celebrate Life activities.
‘Being part of this team is immensely rewarding. When people work together for peace, wonderful things happen - it’s an honour to watch the magic unfold.’
Roni is sometimes described as the glue that holds Celebrate Life together. Liaising, planning and organising, she’s an integral part of the team.
Roni was born in Cyprus, and came to the UK at seven years old to escape the political unrest in the former British colony. Music, dance and the arts are her passions, and throughout her life she has used her talents in a variety of ways. She started her working career as a secretary at BBC Radio, meeting an array of interesting creative people. After leaving the BBC she was self-employed working at Portobello Road and Camden markets buying and selling vinyl records and enjoying being part of a free flow dance and mime troupe, before meeting her husband, getting married and having a family.
In the 1990s she picked up her career collaborating with student union, local performers and health organisations to organise educational music festivals - raising awareness around HIV, drug abuse, racism and homelessness. Now a Grandmother, Roni loves bringing people together to share their humanity, and being part of Celebrate Life is the perfect opportunity to do this.
‘When we connect with who we truly are - a being created in love - we shine as Human Beings - Homo Sapiens, Wise men - Wise people!’
Wallee is the face of Celebrate Life, the networker, connector and communicator.
Originally form Ireland he came to England in the 70s - it was a life changing moment, coming from an urban setting in Dublin to the lush beauty of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire and working in a health food shop in Stroud.
Wallee moved to Bristol to find work in the 80’s where he lived for six years and became a cook at the famous Wild Oats vegetarian restaurant. He went to India for three months in 1986 and upon his return decided to live close to nature and got a job working on an organic farm in Somerset. After a couple of years he realised this wasn’t his vocation and returned to Bristol where an opportunity arose to work at a holistic Centre on the Greek island of Skyros. He returned for 8 more seasons over a 10 yr period eventually settling in London where he became involved with a number of charities such as Amnesty UK, Amnesty International and The Refugee Council in Brixton. The intensity of this work, hearing first-hand accounts of abuse and torture, took its toll and Wallee was happy to leave when the charity offered redundancies.
In 2005 another opportunity arose when he was offered the chance to create a music programme at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in the City of London under the guidance of the Director at the time, Simon Keys. This grew into a very successful programme over the following 8 years allowing him to explore a long-standing love of World Music, introduce many people to the work of the centre and attract a fantastic team of volunteers with a wide range of skills which enabled the programme to run smoothly. Through this he built strong connections with some of London’s finest musicians, developed an enthusiastic audience base and gaines a wealth of experience in event management.
This lead to his current role in Celebrate Life where he can combine his two passions of music and social justice. He is part of the core team, arranging and organising the events.
“Life is a gift I’m constantly exploring, it is my university. To live with an open heart even as the years go by and find love in all one does as much as possible. Celebrate Life is a very exciting project, new ideas are discussed and explored, new connections are welcome. There is an opportunity to do something spectacular.”