Johnny’s Happy Place fete set to raise vital funds for caring cafe

Money raised will be used to fund the drop-in cafe and therapy services

Monday, 27th June 2022, 12:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 10:30 am

Families from across Kettering and beyond are being invited to join supporters of a weekend mental wellbeing service to raise as much money as possible at their annual summer fete.

Hosted at the Keystone centre in Rockingham Road, Kettering, Johnny’s Happy Place was set up by his family following the death of Johnny Mackay after he took his own life in 2014, aged 29.

The drop-in community cafe and associated services are dedicated to supporting people by providing a space to help those living with anxiety issues and depression, or just feel isolated.

L-r Denise Mackay, Charlotte Mackay with son Rufus (six months) and James Varlow (chairman of Johnny's Happy Place)

On Sunday, July 3, a fun-packed family fete will take place from 12pm to 5pm at Keystone, and Johnny’s mum Denise, the driving force behind the cafe, has invited everyone to the fun day.

She said: “We want as many people as possible to come. We’ve got an amazing raffle and the top prize is an iPad Air kindly donated by Quantum IT.

"We’ve got a close-up magician and a balloon modeller – we are providing free entertainment for families so people don’t have to pay – that’s what Johnny would have wanted.”

Other attractions include a bungee run, a disco photo booth tuk tuk, a tombola, vegan food stall, fresh pizzas, a visit by a fire engine, an art exhibition by the service users, a bar, live music and DJ OP1 will be spinning tunes.

Johnny's Happy Place summer fete takes place on Sunday, July 3

Funds raised will go to pay for Johnny’s Happy Place’s services at seen as ‘vital’ by Johnny’s Happy Place chairman James Varlow.

He said: “All our services are funded by private donations from local people. This is a nice safe place for people to come. We get families but we also get individuals who live on their own and are isolated.

"People can grow in confidence, they can chat, have a good meal.”

Johnny’s sister Charlotte said: “There are plenty of people who could benefit from coming to Johnny’s Happy Place and from the services we offer. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old and it’s not just for people with mental health issues. We have a family – a dad with three children who come every Sunday. Where else could you feed a family of four for £4?”

Johnny MacKay

The cafe opens each weekend 10am to 2pm on Saturdays, and 11am to 2pm on Sunday with a hot home-cooked meal served from 11.30am to 1.30pm.

As well as free access to a counsellor, there are art and creative writing workshops.

Denise added: “Everyone is invited to the fete. There’s going to be lots to do and fun for all the family – and you’re supporting Johnny’s Happy Place.”

Johnny Mackay was a ‘funny, talented, kind, compassionate and a wonderful human being’. He took his life on October 23, 2014.

In a tribute to Johnny his family say it is important to remember the reasons why Johnny died and to acknowledge the dark place he and they went. They also want to remember Johnny as he was for most of his life and say it is important to create a place that Johnny would be proud to have his name attached to.