FEATURE: The Diss Group that has raised £280,000 for Quidenham

Diss, Norfolk. Diss Friend's group for EACH pictured from left David Beale, Jenny Bailey, Mary Channell, Merle Channell, Sombra Patrick and Pauline Manson ANL-141103-104857001
Diss, Norfolk. Diss Friend's group for EACH pictured from left David Beale, Jenny Bailey, Mary Channell, Merle Channell, Sombra Patrick and Pauline Manson ANL-141103-104857001

In its 18 years a Diss volunteer group has managed to raise £280,000 for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

The Diss Friends’ Group EACH, which supports care at the Quidenham hospice, in 2013, alone, managed to raise more than £15,000.

And that fundraising is vital. It costs £5,300 per day to run Quidenham and without the support and generosity of the public, they simply would not be able to function.

It is a fact not lost on Pauline Manson, the current chairman of the Diss Friends’ Group, as she and her committee come up with events throughout the year to raise funds.

She said she is continually grateful and surprised by the generosity of people in this area.

She said: “We live in such a rural community when you think, what is the catchment area, 24,000 people? That’s a lot of support. We have got some lovely people who continually support our events.

“It would be nice to let everyone know that we do appreciate them, not just our group but EACH as well.

“Without support from people the charity would not be able to continue. I can organise as many events as I like. Unless people go to them, you won’t make any money. I say thank you after each event.”

The Friends’ Group was set up in November 1996, when the Quidenham Hospice was a standalone charity. It came under the EACH umbrella in 1998.

Mrs Manson’s husband Dick was a founder member. A worker at the hospice was, at the time, appealing for help to start a fundraising group.

But with the success of the Friends’ Group comes a great sense of responsibility and challenge for its committee to keep pushing forward.

“This is a responsibility, we don’t get paid, but we say to people we are going to provide a service, and for that service, you’re going to give us some money to the hospice,” said Mrs Manson. “It is like a business. We have a turnover and we can’t let anything slip.

“A good name takes such a long time to build up, and you need to hang on to that.”

It was not without some trepidation that Mrs Manson paid her first visit to the Quidenham hospice. But she said her experience was incredibly positive, describing a wonderfully happy place with staff that were “angels in disguise” looking after children with “still a lot of living to do”.

The news at the start of the year that the hospice will be moving away from Quidenham to Framingham Earl, south of Norwich, has been welcomed by the group.

The 19th Century listed building in the grounds of the Carmelite Monastery at Quidenham was becoming no longer fit for purpose and a 21st Century building, in a more accessible location will be best for those the hospice cares for, according to EACH.

Mrs Manson said the planned move changes nothing for the group and stressed that all fundraising was for care, rather than financing the new hospice.

Laura Shearing, EACH Norfolk Fundraiser, said: “The EACH Diss Friends are a fantastic group of supporters who continue to make a positive difference to local life-threatened children, young people and their families thanks to their dedicated fundraising and volunteering efforts.

“They’re an incredibly active group who regularly host their own events as well as volunteering at EACH events and organising collections across the region. Not only do their efforts raise vital funds, but they also raise awareness and understanding of EACH; inspiring many others to support our cause.

“Their long-standing support is invaluable and means we can continue to deliver care and support when children, young people and their families need it most.”

The next event is a wellbeing and indulgence evening involving a range of therapies including yoga, aromatherapy and reiki. It is on March 26 at the Park Hotel, Diss.

Doors open at 7.30pm and tickets are £5 available in advance from Mrs Manson 01379 650938. There is a pay bar and raffle/tombola. Call Mrs Manson also to donate, or to find out how to get involved.