Although Ruby Wax declared herself thrilled to have won “Jew of the Year award”, it was actually the Jewish Care Woman of Distinction accolade, presented at a central-London lunch on Wednesday.
Honoured for raising awareness of mental health issues, the comedienne told the 150 women at Phillips de Pury and Company about her battle with depression. She had been the “poster girl for mental illness”, but did not deserve sympathy because “I got a show out of it”. She toured the show, Losing It, internationally after performing it in mental hospitals.
The lunch, which raised £65,000, was in aid of Jewish Care mental health facilities Sydney Corob House in West Hampstead and Jack Gardner House in Golders Green. Sydney Corob was named Care Home of the Year at the British Care Awards last week.
A Woman of Distinction award also went to Jill Shaw Ruddock, a former investment banker, who wrote The Second Half of Your Life, giving women post-menopausal guidance, encouraging them to use that time to reach their intellectual, cultural and professional goals. Ms Shaw Ruddock said she had “talked to many organisations about provision for the elderly and Jewish Care is the best in the country”.
She is working to open a day centre for over-50s, the Second Half centre, teaching people new skills and giving them a place to socialise. “We have much more time than we think we do,” she said. “If you are a healthy woman at 50, the likelihood is that you are going to live to 96.”
There was a standing ovation for Sydney Corob resident Susan Schlaen — a former PE teacher who has bipolar disorder — who made the appeal.
She said Jewish Care had “rescued” her after an unhappy experience elsewhere.
“I had terrible bronchitis and all my top teeth had fallen out. I watched my whole world fall apart. Jewish Care fought the council for three months to change my funding and bring me to this beautiful care home.”