THEY set out to put the fun back into fundraising – and four years on they’ve managed to raise a huge £20,000 along the way.
That’s the total which has now benefitted local people with learning disabilities thanks to the Friends of Heart of England Mencap.
The fundraising group began back in 2014, set up and chaired by Karen Rousell from Stratford, whose daughter Lottie has learning disabilities.
She wanted to support a charity close to her heart and put the fun back into fundraising - hosting events which people wanted to attend, raising money along the way.
And it’s a formula which has worked. Four years on and they’ve now raised a huge £20,000 for Heart of England Mencap, which supports people with learning disabilities across Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
The money has been raised through all sorts of events – from coffee mornings to a card nights or a clothes exchange, as well as sponsored challenges – including a hugely successful firewalk back in 2016 which raised over £10,000 alone.
“Their fundraising has enabled so much and we just can’t thank the Friends enough,” Cath Errington, Fundraising Manager for Heart of England Mencap, said.
“Every penny goes straight to the people with learning disabilities that we support – funding everything from arts and crafts equipment to drama group costumes or iPads. It has enabled our customers to stage their own photo exhibitions and even to publish their own book, talking about their experiences.
“It funds discos, barbecues, day trips – really important social events for our customers with learning disabilities; things which really mean so much. Without the Friends, so much of this would just never happen.”
After four years the group also now has a new chair taking over from Karen – although she will remain an active member.
Anna Kingsley is the new chair. A member of the Friends and an experienced fundraiser herself – having done everything from a sponsored Zumba to a sponsored skydive to raise money for Heart of England Mencap and in memory of her son Theo who passed away in 2008, aged 6.
“Karen has done an incredible job setting up the Friends, getting members on board and organising some amazing events raising a really tremendous amount,” Anna said.
“I’m looking forward to stepping into her shoes – knowing she will be right there with us as we look to raise the next £20,000!
“It’s a great group to be part of – a great way to have fun with new friends knowing that everything you’re doing is really making a difference.”
The first fundraiser of 2018 is coming up on February 16th when the Friends host a Valentine’s Afternoon Tea at the Rosebird Community Hall in Stratford. Everyone is welcome to pop along between 2.30pm and 4.30pm for a cuppa and a cake – and to find out more about the group and getting involved too.
For more information please call 01789 298709 or email Anna56@icloud.com
Photo: With a little help from their Friends – Karen Rousell, Wendy Strophair, Anna Kingsley, Yvonne Ferguson, Rachel Walker and Audrey Rose from the Friends of Heart of England Mencap