DEDICATED friends from a fundraising group in Wotton have decided to call it a day after raising more than £450,000 for Longfield Hospice over 34 years. 

Successful volunteer group, Wotton Friends of Longfield, made the decision to officially disband in December last year. 

The group was originally set up by Jackie Sims, after her mother died from breast cancer in May 1987. 

Her mother’s MacMillan nurse, Helen Hutchinson, asked Jackie if she would consider forming a support group for the hospice she hoped to set up in South Gloucestershire. 

This became Longfield Community Hospice and it continues to offer free care for adults with a life-limiting condition across Gloucestershire and support for their families and carers too.

The first meeting of the group was held on 15 March, 1988. 

Jackie Sims, Joan Deveney, Adele Stockbridge, Irene Wilson, Joan Derham and Lesley Holland were among the founder members of the group which went on to raise a staggering £457,000 through a series of fundraising events. 

In addition to waitressing for various local Freemasonry lodges events, the group held regular fashion shows, fairs, coffee mornings and open gardens, and acted as important ambassadors for the hospice.

Stroud News and Journal:

Twelve members of the group, including four founder members, attended a special event at the hospice on February 24 and were presented with certificates of appreciation and a glass heart ornament, by the hospice’s CEO, Simon Bernstein.

Tricia Henderson-Ross, former Chair and winner of the ‘Charity Fundraiser Award’ at the Pride of the Cotswolds Awards in 2019, now volunteers at the hospice once a week. 

She said: “We were all friends who enjoyed each other's company and coming together to raise money for such a valuable local charity seemed like a wonderful idea. 

“Not only have we seen great progress at the hospice, but we’ve also had lots of fun over the years, and have some lovely memories to look back on.”

Longfield's head of fundraising, Louise Cook, said: “We were delighted to invite twelve Wotton Friends to the hospice to thank them for their phenomenal commitment. 

“To fundraise for over 30 years is such an achievement, and to raise £457,000 is simply amazing! 

“Fundraising support like this makes a huge difference to us and means we can continue to provide vital free care for adults in Gloucestershire with a life-limiting illness, and support for their families and carers too.”