Back in the early 1990s in Highbridge, Somerset, a talk was given about a new charity that was building a children’s hospice which would serve families in the South West. This talk inspired a group of people to make it their mission to support the cause for the next 26 years.
Angela Davies was one of those in attendance. She said: “We had a special open meeting at our Church, St John’s the Evangelist, where the speaker, Ursula Grey, gave a talk about how Eddie and Jill Farwell had decided to build a Children’s Hospice for the South West and were busy fundraising to realise their dream, Little Bridge House.”
Jill and Eddie were travelling the length and breadth of the South West to spread the word and raise the £1million needed to build Little Bridge House. Their two eldest children, Katie and Tom, both had life-limiting illnesses and died before adulthood. The Farwell’s remarkable story motivated those friends present to form Highbridge Friends Group.
The Group held its first fundraising event at St John’s church hall in May 1995. Angela said: “It was a privilege to know Jill and to welcome her to our church. We started fundraising in earnest, the late Jack Foster and his friends at Westlands organised various events including quizzes, which are still running.”
CHSW has come a long way since the 1990s and it now has three hospices in the South West; no family is more than 90 minutes away from a haven of kindness, care and support.
The Group has many fond memories of their time raising funds and awareness for the charity. Angela said: “As well as all the usual fundraising activities too many to mention, we were lucky enough to go to Parliament and lobby local MPs over tea in the Commons for their help in building Charlton Farm.”
Sadly, the time has come for the group to hang up their fundraising hats, but it closes having raised in excess of £173,000 for CHSW.
The Highbridge Friends Group was a tremendous force for good and their support will be greatly missed
Angela said on behalf of the Group: “We’d like to thank the local community, businesses, schools, clubs and holiday camps for all their support over the years, their generosity has been amazing. The Davies family of Highbridge Caravan Centre have been with us from the beginning, allowing us to hold our meetings and events at their premises. We’re very grateful for their continuing commitment to CHSW.”
This year, CHSW is celebrating its 30th anniversary. One thing has remained the same in the 30 years since the founding of the charity - its ethos to put caring for families at the centre of everything it does.
Julie Draper, Area Fundraiser for CHSW, said: “We know the need for children’s hospices will never go away and CHSW relies on voluntary donations to ensure it will be here for another 30 years. The Highbridge Friends Group was a tremendous force for good and their support will be greatly missed. We hope people in the local community will do whatever they can to stand with us in 2021 and continue to help us make the most of short and precious lives."