In the lead up to our English Country Garden Festival on 2nd - 3rd June, I had the pleasure of catching up with Zoe Partridge from the community fundraising team at Childrens Hospice South West to finalise the arrangements for our support of this truly remarkable charity as part of the Garden festival plans this year.
Do have a read of what Zoe had to say, when I took time to ask her afew questions about the work of the charity, and what we can all look forward to at this years Garden Festival, as part of my Guest Blog series.
Q. When did you join CHSW?
A. I joined CHSW back in 2013, so almost 5 years ago now.
Q. What do you love most about your job?
A. There is so much to love about a job like this. Every day is different, but every day you meet lovely people who are inspired to support Children’s Hospice South West in some way. It is very rewarding knowing the families who use the hospice and how the money raised is directly benefitting local families, who really need the support. It is a wonderful cause and because of this, the staff, volunteers, supporters and general public are really passionate and it is great to be a part of that team.
Q. For those that perhaps don’t know – can you tell us a little of what Childrens Hospice South West is about and what you do?
A. Children’s Hospice South West has three children’s hospices in the region; Little Bridge House in North Devon, Charlton Farm in Bristol and Little Harbour in Cornwall. We look after children with life-limiting conditions and their whole families, who come for respite care, as well as emergency and end of life care. Our hospices are a beautiful home from home, where the whole family can come and stay and forget their worries, if just for a while. They have time to enjoy being a family again with all the caring needs for their poorly child provided by our amazing care team. The house is always filled with love, fun and laughter and we aim to make the most of short and precious lives.
Q. Connecting with the community by being present and part of events such as our English Country Garden Festival must play a fairly important role when it comes to building awareness of how the charity works and forming part of your fundraising activities schedule – can you tell us a little more about your outreach programme?
A. It is so important that as a charity we can raise awareness of our work in all sorts of places and meet people from all walks of life, so opportunities like the English Country Garden Festival are a fantastic way for us to do this. We attend a variety of events to raise money and awareness of Children’s Hospice South West as we rely largely on voluntary income from donations, receiving just 17% government funding each year.
We also encourage people to hold fundraising events for us and have some fabulous folk doing sponsored walks, cycles, head shaves, skydives – anything goes in the name of charity and we are always incredibly grateful for the support we receive.
And we also offer free talks to community groups to tell people about our work and invite members of the public to book onto a tour of our hospices. We hold monthly open days on a day when our care team do their training and house maintenance is taking place and we have no families booked in to be staying with us. Our Open Days are a great opportunity for us to show people what their fundraising is supporting and I’d encourage anyone who has never visited to come along, it is never what people imagine it to be.
Q. Summer is a time for many glorious annual festivals and shows across the counties, tell us some of the exciting places we can find Childrens Hospice South West this summer?
A. We are at all sorts of events over the summer including Royal Cornwall Show, Pengrillie Barbeque Festival at Pentillie Castle in July, The Garden House for a weekend in August, and not forgetting our involvement with Coombe Trenchards Garden Festival on 2nd and 3rd June. We also host our own events like the Rainbow Run at RAF St Mawgan this June, and Bubble Rush in Plymouth this September to name a few - we are out and about a lot, and if you wish to keep in touch with where we are and what we have on our website is a good place to start www.chsw.org.uk
Q. The English Country Garden Festival at Coombe Trenchard is delighted to support Childrens Hospice South West every year – can you tell our visitors what you have planned for this years event?
A. We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of Coombe Trenchard and this year we are really looking forward to providing the popular 'tea room' style catering, serving a selection of freshly baked homemade cakes and scones - using Coombe Trenchard favourite recipes, along with hot and cold drinks with lovely seating areas situated on the stunning terrace outside the house.
We will also have a range of traditional garden games up on the upper lawn - to include croquet and smite to name just two. And the dragonfly trail is also back again this year, and we'll be inviting children to take part and follow the trail, putting together a poem to win a prize.
Q. What do you look forward to the most about the English Country Garden Festival at Coombe Trenchard?
A. We absolutely love Coombe Trenchard's English Country Garden Festival - it is set in the most beautiful grounds, there is always a great variety of trade stands, and the atmosphere is just lovely for everyone involved. It is definitely one of the highlights of our year - visitors and stand holders alike are always so happy and friendly - all in all, a positively enjoyable weekend.
Q. Cream Tea’s are incredibly popular at the English Country Garden Festival – but how would you make yours? Clotted Cream or Strawberry Jam first?
A. This is always a heated debate, but I suppose as we are in Devon, we will have to make it the Devon way!!!
Q. Fundraising events play a vital role within any charity - are you able to share how some of the funds raised in the last year have helped your families?
A. We are always incredibly grateful for the opportunity to raise funds for Children’s Hospice South West. With over 100 families using Little Harbour, our children’s hospice in St Austell, alone the money we raised goes towards giving those families a wonderful respite break. It will help provide nursing care for the poorly child, provide our wonderful sibling support team to play with the brothers and sisters of that child and allow mums and dads to put their feet up and have quality family time together. It will have helped us to create some magical memories with those families, which they will be able to treasure forever.
Q. Fundraising and volunteer support from the wider community is key for you, can you give us some examples of how our festival visitors could perhaps get involved with Childrens Hospice South West?
A. We can never have too many volunteers! We have so many volunteering opportunities, especially out in the community fundraising for us, so even if you can give just an hour once in a while, we would love to hear from you. We do have local volunteer groups as well for anyone who wants to get more involved, please just ask one of our volunteers on the day or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to Zoe from us here at Coombe Trenchard for answering these questions.
Zoe and the Childrens Hospice South West fundraising team, amongst myself and our hard working team of volunteers and supporters of the festival, look forward to meeting and greeting visitors to the English Country Garden Festival on 2nd and 3rd of June.
I hope this year we will raise even greater funds to support this terrific resource for many families across the South West.