Duncton village sets ‘exceptional example’

Louise Exall and Caroline Fleetwood made the Pay for a Day pledge for 2015
Louise Exall and Caroline Fleetwood made the Pay for a Day pledge for 2015

A WHOLE village rallied to raise money and create a real sense of community during 2015.

For a year, Caroline Fleetwood, 48, and Louise Exall, 53, motivated people in Duncton into fundraising for Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice.

Car wash team Sonny Bird, Lottie Bird, Rosie Boult, Dominic Boult and Ottilie Hartley

Car wash team Sonny Bird, Lottie Bird, Rosie Boult, Dominic Boult and Ottilie Hartley

The result was a donation topping £10,800, raised through a variety of events and activities, which will pay for one-and-a-half day’s care at the Poling hospice.

Louise kicked-off the fundraising with a lunch at her house. Village children busied themselves washing cars. Several coffee mornings were held and lots of donations were made.

The big event of the year was an auction and dinner dance for 120 people in the grounds of the village hall in October, raising £6,000.

For five years, Caroline had volunteered on reception and helped in administration at the hospice.

The auction and dinner dance alone raised approximately �6,000

The auction and dinner dance alone raised approximately �6,000

Then, following a year’s sickness with glandular fever, she decided it was time for change.

She was invited to an event to help raise awareness of the hospice and to thank local supporters, held at the Walled Garden at Cowdray.

Not wanting to go alone, Caroline invited Louise, her friend, to go with her. They were both moved by a talk by Jackie Day, a mum whose 13-year-old son was cared for at Chestnut Tree House at the end of his life.

The pair immediately made a Pay for a Day pledge, intending to raise the £6,850 needed during 2015. In the end, they were well on their way to raising enough to pay for two days.

Louise and Caroline said they were absolutely thrilled and humbled that the village rallied in the way they did, to support the hospice, and they were very proud of everyone who volunteered their time and services.

Caroline said: “I am in hospitality and asked some of our suppliers if they could help in some way, but I didn’t expect the response I got.

“Beautiful World Tents donated their stunning Tipis and put them up free of charge, The Naked Food Company donated delicious desserts and a local caterer supplied curry at cost.

“I also invited Channel 4’s celebrity auctioneer, Nick Carter, to be auctioneer at our event and he accepted, adding his jolly, informal, fun flare to the proceedings. And local musician Willy Austen provided free entertainment with his inimitable renditions of rock and blues from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.”

The kindness extended to local businesses offering auction lots and raffle prizes, including tickets from Lord March for Festival of Speed, lunches and afternoon tea at local cafés and hotels, rooms at local hotels and works of art donated by local artists.

Tracy Bowdery, Chestnut Tree House community fundraiser, said: “I went to the auction and dinner dance and was so impressed what a perfect evening it was. Caroline and Louise have loads of infectious energy and Caroline works in hospitality, and her professionalism showed.

“But that doesn’t take away from the kindness of the whole village, rallying friends to share the evening together and bidding at the auction and buying raffle tickets.

“We are always so grateful to anyone who gives their time to fundraise for the hospice, but this was an exceptional example of the force of a Sussex village, and what they can achieve together and the wonderful sense of community it evoked.”

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