Bedford came together on the 2nd of June at the town’s Athletics Club on Wentworth Drive, to raise awareness and funds for shipping clothes to Soweto Children’s home in Kenya.
Last year I took an impromptu visit to Soweto (Kayole) in East of Nairobi when my family and I took food which included maize flour,rice, chapati flour, bread, sugar, bread, juice, biscuits and sweets however the sheer utter need for basic clothing left an a lasting impression and I felt I had to do more.
When I came back I called all my friends and asked them them to give me all of their unwanted clothings and toys. This initiative got legs of its own and I got school uniforms and books from Brickhill Primary School with the help from Tabby Turner a PTA mum who mobilised the mums and the school to donate.
St James Primary in Biddenham had Natasha Fox a school governor and her daughter Mary who were fundraising for a different charity and decided to mobilise the mums to donate their old toys and clothes for Soweto as well.
Word of mouth is the best form of recommendation and I got donations of beddings and adults’ clothes for Soweto’s carers from people from all corners of Bedford.
The owner of Queens Park Electronics shop offered the back of her shop as storage which was of great help because I had ran out of space in my house.
At another event I spoke to Steve Spring who offered to help me find a venue for the benefit lunch. The aim of the lunch was to raise awareness and money to ship the clothes that I had collected.
Bedford Athletics club offered their venue, which holds 135 people, free of charge and people paid for a 3 course meal with entertainment with the aim of raising money from selling raffle tickets and auctioning some items.
The La Rondine donated pizzas for the children and they helped publicise the event.
Entertainment was diverse and eclectic included: Fusion youth choir, Tremaine Jazz musician, Albert the African act who mesmerised everyone with his act of eating fire, Pooja the Bollywood dancer, music 4 memory and the Kenya Community in Bedford group.
Guests enjoyed a three course meal and helped raise £1,174, just short of the £2,114.58 target. However, by Monday we had an anonymous donor who helped reduce the balance to 440.58.
I feel confident that I will be able to get the target and if we surpass it, the plan is to personally deliver the clothes sorted by age and for each child to get their own clothes then take them out for a christmas party where they will be treated to a meal with a surprise from Santa.
A huge thank you to former NCS students who came from Houghton Regis, Daisy Smith, Abby Barkas and Georgia Barkas helped with looking after the children. ACCM staff and Rebecca Music 4 memory (Thursday group)who helped with registration and selling raffle tickets. Thank you to the dignitaries who took time out to come to the event: Mohamed Yasin (MP), Councillor Gianni Carofano and Councillor Colleen Atkins.
I would also like to say a special thank you to Tibbs groups, who after learning that I did not reach my target have been baking cakes and selling them to help raise the balance.
Raffles prizes and auctioned items have been donated by: Val Fitzhugh, Dr Meera George and Isabell Muigai, The Anchor Pub, Tavistock Pub, Three Tuns Pub, The Great Denham golf Club, The Cochin Restaurant, Evans and Son butchers, Rinaldi Hair Studio, Fusion, Haven Holiday – Caister on Sea, ACCM UK, La Rondine and Tremaine At Tremmusic.