Record crowds help raise over £38k for Hospice of St Francis

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Sunshine and record crowds set the seal on the most successful garden party ever for The Hospice of St Francis, raising more than £38,000 for the Berkhamsted charity.

More than 4,000 visitors made the most of the bright May weather to flock to the biggest event in the hospice’s fundraising calendar, which took place in the stunning grounds of Ashridge House on Sunday, May 22.

Sarah Ajder, hospice community fundraiser and event organiser, said: “The turnout has just been incredible. I don’t think we’ve ever seen so many people through the gate, the Pimms, cream teas and bar sold out and it looks like we’ve made more than £38,000, which is a fantastic result.

“It was wonderful to see so many supporters enjoying themselves in what is a truly beautiful setting and great that Mother Nature was on our side with the weather. We really couldn’t have asked for more.”

Supporters came from all areas of the hospice’s catchment and beyond to enjoy Pimms and picnics on the lawn, cream teas, barbecue and salad lunches on the terrace and live music from the Jolly Jazzers and ukulele band, the D’Ukes of Ashridge.

Children’s entertainment ranged from Punch and Judy and kids’ Sumo wrestling to circus skills, a bouncy castle and face-painting. There were over 45 stalls in the shopping village offering handmade crafts, jewellery, fashion and home accessories as well as locally-produced food and drink, gifts and plants.

Hospice CEO, Steve Jamieson, added: “I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came or was involved in making the garden party such a wonderful event – from our hosts Ashridge House, main sponsors Home and Abroad Rentals and Pimms stall sponsor BP Sanders, to our volunteers, stall holders and staff.

“It was fabulous to see so many supporters of the hospice having fun and raising vital funds for the work we do.”

The charity, which cares for people living with life-limiting illnesses across Herts and Bucks, relies on voluntary donations for 80% of its £4.8m a year running costs, with only 20% funded by the NHS.

Jason Cassidy, president of Ashridge House, said: “It was so nice to see everyone having a great time at Ashridge in support of the hospice and great that even the weather co-operated.”

Garden party goer Lisa Gomm, 43, from Berkhamsted, who visited with her husband Jamie and sons Miles, seven, and Jarvis, three, said: “It’s been a brilliantly organised event. I can’t believe the numbers here, the range of stalls, the quality of goods and the numbers of adults and children having fun.

“We met some friends here, sat on rugs enjoying a picnic and have really enjoyed the atmosphere and the live music. Our boys have loved the circus skills, the netball and the bouncy castle and it’s great that all the money raised is going to such a fantastic cause.”

The next big event for the hospice is its 10th celebration party Midnight Walk starting at 10pm at Hemel School on Saturday, June 25. For more information or to sign up now, visit www.stfrancis.org.uk/midnightwalk