Group marks 20 years of support for county charity

A charity group is celebrating 20 years of supporting Hope House Children’s Hospices, raising some £200,000 over the last two decades.

From left are, Pat Harrison, Cath Carroll, Ilma Marpole and Julia Evans, with young helper Gus Nataro, 10.
From left are, Pat Harrison, Cath Carroll, Ilma Marpole and Julia Evans, with young helper Gus Nataro, 10.

The Llandrindod Wells Friends Group was set up in 2002 and has over the years raised money through everything from fun days to cake sales, selling knitted goods to organising a pop-up shop, concerts and garden parties.

Ilma Marpole , 86, has been the chairman of the group for the last 20 years alongside the treasurer and secretary 72-year-old Cath Carroll. They were joined by Linda Price and Christina Porter as the founding members.

“I remember when we first met with people from Hope House to discuss setting up a friends group,” said Ilma.

“There were a number of children and families here at the time that had started to get care at the hospice and we knew it was a worthwhile cause to raise money for. I’m not sure any of us could have imaged then we would raise £200,000 and still be going 20 years later.”

The first event the group held was a collection outside the town’s old Kwik Save supermarket which raised £166.

“That was the start for us,” said Cath. “Since then we have worked hard to raise money and awareness in the town. We’re all extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve for the hospices.”

The group has seen a number of members join over the years, including Pat Harrison, 79, and Julia Evans, 68, who both worked in local schools.

“I remember working with children who would use Hope House and they would be so incredibly excited to go there,” said Julia. “That was one of the main reasons I joined the friends group, because I wanted to help in some way bring that support to the children.”

The group recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a garden party at Ilma’s house.

“We’ve had so much fun over the years,” said Cath. “We have all become really good friends and met people we would never had met otherwise. But it’s not just about us, it’s about the town and about all the people who have given to us.”

Andy Goldsmith, chief executive of Hope House Children’s Hospices, said: "I am constantly in awe of our volunteers, those that show enormous dedication by giving up their time to work with us, either at the hospices, at our shops or supporting us to be able to hold events.

"Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do at Hope House Children's Hospices and without their selfless efforts we simply wouldn't be able to provide the care we do to the local children with life-threatening conditions and their families.

"Hope House Children's Hospices was built on a foundation of volunteering, and the unstinting committed support of our volunteers that has allowed us to go from strength to strength over the years.

"The contribution from the Llandrindod Wells Friends Group has been nothing short of amazing. All their work over the last 20 years has helped us to grown and reach more local children and families.

"To have given so much of their time and energy to the charity for two decades is truly humbling, and it is people like them that have made the charity what it is today.”

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