Fundraising and tea at Buckingham Palace!

The cancer community, has a massive membership across the world! There are so many people affected by it, in one way or another. As you are aware, this blog is about sharing experiences, so that we can all learn from each other. I have been sharing my own experiences, but this is also a platform to hear from other people, who also have incredible stories to tell.

Today felt the appropriate time to share the below story with you. It is written by a lady called Ann Clarke, who is a member of  ‘The North Sheffield Support Group for Bluebell Wood’ A children’s hospice, who do some incredible work with families. 

“Have you ever noticed that a seemingly small decision in your life, can later have big consequences?Twelve years ago I heard that a group of people were trying to raise money to build a Children’s Hospice in our area, and were desperate for speakers to spread the word.  As I was used to speaking in public I volunteered. 

 With the publicity that I, in my small way, and many others were able to get we raised the £4 million needed to build the Hospice, which opened its doors nearly 4 yrs ago.  None of this money came from any government authority but from the people of South Yorkshire and the North Midlands, whom the Hospice serves.  It is called the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

This country is the leader in children’s hospices, the first having been built at Oxford in 1985.  They differ from adult hospices in that they support the whole family, in fact the whole family can stay in the hospice whilst the poorly child is there either on respite or for end-of-life care. The decision is made by the family in consultation with the staff.  They have sibling clubs so that the brothers and sisters can meet together and share their experiences or go on outings together. 

The parents are encouraged to also meet together, supporting one another as only someone who has gone, or is going through, the same experience can. At the moment Bluebell Wood is caring for  approximately 150 families. The Hospice has the most wonderful loving and caring staff and, despite the fact that very sad things do happen there, it has a positive happy atmosphere.

My work over the years with the Hospice just grew, so that now I fund raise with a group we have formed locally, putting on concerts etc. selling merchandise at events, collecting cheques and representing the Hospice when and where required – and still give talks.  But with all this came rewards, I have met so many amazing and inspiring people, gone to events that I would never have gone to otherwise – and then, a few weeks ago an envelope came through the door from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, it was an invitation to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, I had been nominated by Bluebell Wood.  To say I was surprised would be the understatement of the year, four of us were to go from the Hospice. 
I have been a royalist all my life, so you can imagine how thrilled I was, and I was not disappointed.  Everything at this giant tea party goes like clockwork, the well-oiled wheels of the Royal Household just click into place, from the delicious tea to the Yeoman Warders, the two military bands to the Queen and the other members of the Royal Family passing amongst us chatting with great ease to all around.  Only one down side, you are not allowed to take cameras into the grounds, obviously for security reasons.  So it was a day that I will have to retain in my memory all my life!
But my work goes on for the Hospice, we still need to raise nearly £3 million a year to run it and only 5% of that comes from any statutory authority.  There are still so many desperate families out there who in their darkest hour need that shoulder to lean on and Bluebell Wood is there for them.

Since this was written, I have just heard that the small group that I work with in North Sheffield for Bluebell Wood have been awarded the ‘Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.’ “

(Well deserved  Ann, and congratulations, Chris)

Ann Clarke         

I would like to thank Ann and her colleagues, for sharing their incredibly inspiring story. Having spoken a lot to Ann over the years, about her fundraising, to see what has been achieved, is incredible! In compiling this post, I have had cause to look at the work of Bluebell Wood, it looks to be an incredible place.
This is yet another example of the work going on in the background by tireless, selfless people, to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. Thank you all for the wonderful work that you do!


  1. Your blog is wondeful – as I said in my piece no one can understand someone who is going through an illness as you are, can have any idea of what it is like, except when you put pen to paper, or in your case fingers to keyboard, then we get a little idea.
    I’m sure it must help other cancer sufferers to know they are not alone, for cancer is a very lonely place. More blog to your elbow!

  2. Thank you Ann for sharing your incredible experience. You are doing fantastic work for the hospice, which is doing incredible work for the children and families that they support.We also need people like you to make things happen. We are all working towards the same goal. please send my best wishes to your team and the staff who work in the hospice, Chris

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