One hundred and eighty O2e-ers packed into the Paris Grill on Saturday evening for this annual knees up and to raise even more money to improve the lives of terminally ill and disabled children. The evening has been an ever-present in the O2e diary and this year Slatts freshened it up with a new venue and a new format, to allow for more mixing and more dancing time. But most of all this night was about celebration:
To celebrate the wonderful people who have undertaken events as varied as making and selling knitted animals (Cheryl Padgett) to sky diving from 15,000 feet (Ryan and Aiden); from cycling 200 miles in a day (Granty and the Hooters) to guessing the number of Easter eggs in a jar (Sue Smith); from taking 94 cyclists from London to Paris (Big Kev et al.) to organising a celebrity darts night (Granty); from arranging a quiz night (Nira) to hosting another quiz night (Sue and Sponge); from doing 2019 pull ups (David Turner) to running a marathon a month for the year (Big beardy Al); from organising a glorious cycling weekend in Monmouthshire for 34 riders (Nick John) to walking up and down 7,000 steps in all stations of the Circle Line (Anthony Padgett et al.); from cycling 1,200 km in the Paris Brest Paris audax in 76 hours (John Milne) to going alcohol free for a month (Lucy Turner)…. Getting the picture? The target was 30 events in 2019 and to date we are at 43 events underway or completed with another couple still to come in (Alan McGinley, you promised; Margaret Turner, walking 1 mile backwards was not my idea), to make 45 in total, which is absolutely and utterly fantastic
Celebrating the achievement of £2,500,000 raised and given to improve the lives of terminally ill and disabled children since 2006. Not bad for a bunch of amateurs….and all down to you lovely lot over the years….lots of smiles, lots of friendship and lots of more fulfilled children along the way
Celebrating the achievement of things which many people would have thought were beyond them and helping them to discover the hero inside
Celebrating the charities who translate your donations into tangible outcomes for terminally ill and disabled children, making a real difference to their lives
And the Skelly Award goes to….
This award is a legacy in memory of our dearly beloved friend Paul Skelly, who passed away three years ago and is still sorely missed by family, friends and colleagues. It recognises outstanding contributions to the work of the charity in encouraging others to do events and to raising money for O2e, as well as being an all-round good egg. Thank you to all who submitted nominations and votes. It was a close-run thing, but the 2019 winner of the Skelly Award is ….(drum roll) …..
A popular and immensely well-liked chap, Granty was almost overcome when presented with the award by the 2018 winner, Sue Smith. Granty joins an illustrious and highly select group of previous winners, including Avril Tuohy (2016), Lee McGinley (2017) and Sue herself. A richly deserved award which recognises your dedication in building the Hadham Hooters to a high-efficient and affable team of bonne viveurs raising lots of money with the support of a troop of wives and girlfriends, many of whom have bought themselves bicycles this year! The Hooters have achieved many events in 2019 including the celebrity darts night, the 200 miles in a day ride, the 100 rounds of golf (Beaker), the 27 mile walk to work (Beaker and Gareth) and the London to Paris bike ride. In addition, Granty is the point of contact for St Elizabeths’ Special.
School and he played with his band at a recent open day when they opened their all-weather pitch, which is specially adapted for children with severe epilepsy and profound disabilities. Well done Granty, we all love you.
Nira gets (a) life
“Naughty Nira” (she isn’t at all naughty) received a massive cheer when presented with a special award for all her hard work, dedication and “joyous disposition” (it says here) since the very start of O2e, 14 years ago. As Sean said at the quiz night, she has thrown herself enthusiastically into the charity, but she is now moving to pastures new with her emigration with husband Tony to Israel, where they are going to live on a kibbutz in Gallilea. We will miss Nira for sure, her habitual desire to organise things and her expertise in getting things done, always with a charming smile (it says here) will be sorely missed, but she won’t be gone for good; we are hoping to drag her back for guest appearances now and again. But for now, on behalf of everyone associated with O2e, may I take the chance to thank you for all you have done Nira, and wish you and Tony all the very best for your new life in Israel.
The six O2e beneficiary charities for 2019 were all present at the gala celebration party and all six spoke warmly about the impact of O2e funding on them and on the children they look after day in and day out. Jo Turner (Florries) commented on their work to visit terminally ill children in their own homes to deliver care and support. The O2e funds will help to pay for another oncology nurse to join the team to provide this care one to one according to the needs of the child. Jo estimated that each nurse will look after some 25 patients during each year, all funded by O2e. Alex (St Elizabeth’s School) spoke about the unique features of O2e, especially the fact we are entirely run by volunteers and do not take any money out from donations. He closed an empassioned speech with the comment that “many charities will talk the talk, but O2e is one of only a very few charities who walk the walk as well”. He was amazed at the efforts to complete wild and wacky events and commented that the new, specially adapted play ground area had been funded in part by O2e money and would provide a safe and secure surface on which their seriously disabled children could play without coming to harm if they had an apileptic fit, for example. Clev the Giant spoke of the uplifting work carried out by CASPA in providing a safe environment for disabled (typically autistic) children to relax and express themselves without fear of criticism or punishment. He talked about the development work Caspa does to stimulate the children and help their communication and the fact that the O2e money paid for materials for art and craft classes and to fund another key helper within the professional team. Caspa have expanded recently by acquiring their first bespoke accommodation which will be their base and also a café where young adults can develop their skills in a supportive environment and ultimately be better prepared for living and working in the community. Rachel Joseph of ELHAP talked about the very difficult year they had experienced in 2017, when the local council had dramatically cut their main funding stream overnight to save costs. This had left a critical shortfall in revenues and O2e’s donations were particularly well received during this time. Rachel was not sure ELHAP would have survived without the financial support from O2e, for which they are very grateful. The money has been used to fund two staff. Dr Sabine Maguire, a Trustee and the Founder of Sparkle expressed her amazement at the tasks the O2e-ers get up to and thanked us all profusely for the generous donations over the years. Danny of the Freddie Farmer Foundation talked about the start of FFF and their evolution into one of the best equipped centres in the South of England for the provision of specialist physiotherapy to disabled children, part funded by O2e.
All in all another fantastic O2e night and a fitting tribute and celebration to mark £2.5m raised and donated by you lovely people over the years. Looking forward to celebrating £3m with you all!!!
What events would you like to do in 2020? What in your wildest dreams… Email or text or call me – details below. I’m all ears…. Lots of love Chairman DD Big Cheese xx 07764682332 dd@O2e.org.uk