Charity CEO gets ‘surprise of her life’

ONE BIG THANK YOU: TV star Jason Donovan surprises Taylor Made Dreams’ founder Suzi Mitchell (centre) as part of last week’s One Big Thank You on BBC 1’s The One Show. Pic: @BBC iPlayer

LAST week, local charity CEO Suzi Mitchell was surprised on national television.

Suzi, CEO of Taylor Made Dreams (TMD), a charity which supports children with life-limiting illnesses, appeared on BBC The One Show’s ‘One Big Thank You’ a weekly feature of the programme which celebrates people who go the extra mile to help others in the community.

Gracie Harriman-Browning Head of Fundraising at Childrensalon nominated Suzi for the award, and along with PR Sarah Raine, secretly hatched a plan with One Show producers to get Suzi to London without her suspecting a thing.

The date of the surprise was scheduled for Friday November 24, 2023, the same date as the biennial TMD Ball, the biggest fundraising event in the calendar, making the undercover operation even more difficult.

Gracie told the Times she spun a story that she had to do an interview on The One Show in London alone. “Suzi knows that would be my idea of hell so I knew she would agree to come with me if she could,” Gracie explained.

Suzi was then surprised by a performance from Australian actor and singer Jason Donovan, who she said, ‘showed a real interest in what the charity does’.

She added: “I can honestly say that I have never been gobsmacked before, but this was the biggest surprise of my life! I was firmly of the belief I was there to support Gracie and Childrensalon.

“It was only when Jason Donovan spun round and started singing to me that I wondered why he was singing to me and not Gracie!”

The Spa Hotel, Tunbridge Wells gave a room free of charge for the production crew to film messages of support for Suzi from family, friends and people supported by the charity.

Sarah Raine enlisted the help of Dave Richardson, Fundraiser and Erin Warnett, Personal Assistant from TMD, in order to pull off organising the messages of support.

She said: “As you can imagine, for someone as wonderful as Suzi, everyone I spoke to was delighted to send a message! I had to turn it all around in literally a couple of days and everyone stepped up brilliantly! John Bishop, who is our Charity Patron, was very happy to record his own personal message too.”

Suzi, who was shown the messages of support during the filming of the ‘One Big Thank You’, added: “ When I saw all the lovely messages and tributes on the TV trailer I was so overwhelmed, all those wonderful people who are incredibly special to me and to the charity.

“As we acknowledge our tenth year this year, it really made me see how far we have come as a charity and how many people have helped us to get where we are today.”

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