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In 1981 a group of firm friends and neighbours set out to raise £100 to help towards an appeal to start a hospice in north east Essex. Now, 40 years later Pat Adams, Dorothy Hewitt, Rita Pincombe, Beryl Hutley and Pat Kitching, five of the founding members of the group known as the Cherrydale Weavers, are still fundraising for the hospice, having now raised £102,000.
Once the first shop opened in Head Street in 1987, Pat, Dorothy and Rita also started volunteering on a Thursday, and continue to do so.
Pat explained: “We had a young lady who lived just down the road and she had cancer. She was in agony and we think that if there’d been a Hospice about at that moment, she would have been able to be treated and cared for and she would have had a much happier end of life. And that's really how it started.”
Dorothy added: “And then we have another friend who died who asked for donations to the hospice instead of flowers. At the time we thought, well, we haven't got much money, but we've got a bit of time. Why don't we see if we can raise a bit of money? And we said we'd do it for a year and raise a £100 towards a bed. Well, the first year we made £1,500 so we’ve been hooked ever since.”
Mark Jarman Howe, Rita Pincombe, Pat Adams, Dorothy Hewitt and Dr Elizabeth Hall
Pat, Rita and Dorothy next to a photo of the Cherrydale Weavers pictured in the newspaper in the early 1980s: Sue Dowrick, Jane Entwistle, Beryl Hutley, Pat Adams, hospice chairman Chris Holmes, Maureen Poulter, Rita Pincombe, Elizabeth Cook, Dorothy Hewitt
The Cherrydale Weavers are amazed at the support of local people. Rita said: “We put notices through front doors and we went back the next day to collect stuff. People were very generous. Suddenly you have all these people saying, I can do that here you go. It was brilliant. We held a Dickensian market in Culver Square for quite a few years; we loved a bit of dressing up! It snowed, it rained, it blew a gale!
Dr Elizabeth Hall, one of the founders of St Helena Hospice, and Mark Jarman Howe, chief executive, honoured their commitment with a presentation at the recent hospice heritage stories exhibition.
Fellow Cherrydale Weaver, Christine Bull was recognised for 35 years’ service.
Wendy Marcon, Volunteer Manager, said: “An extra special thank you to our amazing longest serving volunteers. We are so lucky to have the support of those who have been dedicated to St Helena Hospice since before it even opened.
“Due to the ongoing pandemic, we are once again unable to hold our annual Volunteers Thank You Day where we would usually bring together our long serving volunteers to receive a badge or award to recognise and celebrate those who have reached service milestones this year.
“I would like to say a big thank you to all our volunteers; we really couldn’t do what we do without their fantastic support.”
Find out about volunteering opportunities at St Helena Hospice at www.sthelena.org.uk/volunteer
Part of St Helena Hospice heritage stories exhibition will be on display at FirstSite on Saturday 6th November as part of the Colchester Community Fair 2021, hosted by Will Quince MP.
St Helena Hospice has launched its new mascot, an elephant named Saunders, named after Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement.View more
St Helena Hospice is supporting more than 40 young people to gain work experience and develop a career path by employing them through the government’s Kickstart scheme – and six of them have now been offered jobs within the organisation.View more
Two local businesses have pledged to support St Helena Hospice for the next year by signing up to become the local charity’s Corporate Membership partners.View more
The St Helena Hospice shop in Culver Street, Colchester will be offering customers a New Look voucher when they donate a bag of pre-loved clothingView more
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