A record number of people flocked to the stunning grounds of Ashridge House on Sunday to enjoy The Hospice of St Francis’ most successful Garden Party ever.
More than 5,000 people made the most of the warm sunshine, soaking up the atmosphere at the biggest community event in the Hospice’s fundraising calendar and raising a record-breaking £42,000 and counting for the Berkhamsted-based charity.
Supporters came from all corners of the Hospice’s catchment area and beyond to enjoy Pimms and picnics on the lawn, cream teas on the terrace and live music from the Jolly Jazzers and ukulele band, the Ukie Toones.
Children were kept entertained by Punch and Judy shows, a bouncy castle and slide, circus skills, face-painting, pony rides and archery taster sessions, whilst others took advantage of the opportunity to explore the beautiful gardens of Ashridge House, and stroll through its avenues of trees.
Lucy Hume, community fundraising manager at the hospice, and the event organiser, said: “It was wonderful to see so many supporters enjoying themselves in what is a beautiful setting. Mother Nature was on our side providing warm, sunny weather which really helped to set the seal on what was a truly incredible day.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who turned out to support us and made this year’s Garden Party the most successful ever and special thanks must go to our hosts Ashridge House, sponsors Knight Frank as well as all the volunteers, stall holders and staff who made it all possible.”
The charity, which provides free care and support when it matters most for people facing life-limiting illnesses in West Herts and South Bucks, relies on voluntary donations for 80 per cent of the £5million it needs every year to provide its services.
Georgina Holder, 24, from Hemel Hempstead, was there with family and friends.
She said: “We’ve never been before but it looked like a nice thing to do on a sunny day. It’s good to be able to do something to support the Hospice and enjoy a Pimms whilst we’re at it.”
Graham Courtney, 31, also from Hemel, said his daughters, Alisa, seven, and Genevieve, four, loved trying out the circus skills.
“They’ve had a brilliant time,” he said. “You don’t see circus skills very often at events. I used to do this kind of thing myself so I’ve been trying to pass on my skills to the kids. They’ve also had pony rides and we’ve looked round the stalls. I didn’t expect there to be so many people, it’s much busier than I expected!”
Duncan Heath, 67, from St Albans, who came with his wife Lyn and friends Dave and Linda Allworthy, said: “It’s an excellent event. It’s the first time we’ve been and it’s much bigger than we expected. The live music is great and we particularly enjoyed listening to the jazz. We’re also looking forward to having a look around the gardens which we’ve never visited before."
To find out more about the Hospice’s next big fundraiser, Bubble Rush Bucks in Lowndes Park, Chesham on Sunday July 9, visit www.stfrancis.org.uk/bubblerush