Claire McKeogh, a 44 year old mother from Wadhurst in East Sussex, is a massive fan of celebrity chef Tom Kerridge. So much so that one of her greatest wishes was to visit his restaurant, The Hand and Flowers, in Marlow, South Buckinghamshire with her family. Not just to visit the restaurant but to have a meal prepared by him and to stay in one of the cottages attached to the restaurant.
Needless to say, Claire saw this as a dream that would remain as that, however, she hadn’t counted on the help and support of HoneyRose Foundation, a St Helens based charity granting wishes to adults over the age of 40 suffering with life-threatening and terminal illnesses.
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015, Claire joined a breast cancer sufferers support group on Facebook where the Foundation was mentioned. Without too much hope, Claire submitted her application to HoneyRose Foundation and they took it upon themselves to contact Tom Kerridge and ask for his support. Within a couple of days, a response from Tom’s personal assistant offered almost everything requested and more.
So, with a little preparation and close co-operation The Hand and Flowers was ready to receive Claire and her family on 29th and 30th May. Having many other commitments on his time, Tom was unable to be there to prepare their dinner on 29th but the staff treated them ‘like royalty’! Tom had left a signed copy of his latest book for the family and a gift of memorabilia was given to them. However, the piece de resistance for Claire was when, on the morning of 30th May whilst preparing to leave, Tom arrived to do some filming and met with Claire and the family and had photographs taken with them to make their stay absolutely complete.
On returning home Claire sent a message to HoneyRose in which she said: “Where to start? We had an amazing time The staff at The Hand and Flowers looked after us really well and we felt like royalty! Again, I can’t thank you all enough!”.
HoneyRose Foundation was founded in 2004 when three friends of Lynn Duffy all died from cancer in their forties. During their illness there was little social support to help them forget their illness even for a short time. As a result, Lynn decided to set up the charity and, since its formation, over 800 wishes have been granted creating memories for over 8,000 children, grandchildren, other relatives and friend of the sufferers.
The range of wishes requested is very varied and includes people wanting to go to the theatre to see a play/musical/ballet etc. In order to complete the wishes, funds come through grants from major corporations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, donations from local businesses and individuals, through a charity shop based in St Helens town centre and a range of fund-raising events and activities.
Naturally, they would like to be able to grant every wish applied for but, currently, do not raise the necessary funds to achieve that. Another way wishes can be granted is with the generosity of some ‘suppliers’ who give complimentary or concessional deals for their facility, be it a football match, holiday home, theme park entry etc.
One issue the Foundation is facing at this time is the risk of being put out of business due to redevelopment plans for St Helens town centre. The plans could see developers moving in to purchase all the town centre buildings forcing the current occupants out. Whilst many are part of bigger organisations, HoneyRose Foundation is a small, independent charity which, if forced out of their current building, would not be able to carry on. Therefore, a campaign to raise the funds to purchase the building has been set up before the developers move in.
This campaign is running alongside other fund-raising efforts to continue granting wishes. In order to purchase the building outright £300,000.00 is needed; alternatively, if £90,000.00 was raised, they could obtain a mortgage to purchase the property. Even with a mortgage, outgoings for rent could result in savings of approximately £1,000.00 per month – the equivalent of granting two wishes. Also, by having the building in the Foundation’s name, they would be able to obtain grants for maintenance, repairs and renovation currently not available as tenants.
In light of this situation HoneyRose Foundation are having to seek support from companies and other foundations that may be able to offer financial assistance to help reach the initial target of £90,000.00.