Sporting Heroes are pure gold for Tree of Hope

What the garden looked like before
GOOD SPORTS (L-R) Former England cricketer Chris Cowdrey, guest speaker Willie John McBride, Paralympian Ross Wilson, Tree of Hope Chief Executive Gill Gibb and Fundraising Manager Kate Bourne

The Tonbridge charity’s patron, Paralympian table tennis player Ross Wilson, brought along the gold medal he won at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Ross, who also won a bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012, said: “To be a patron for Tree of Hope makes me immensely proud.

“It was an amazing day and we managed to raise a fantastic amount of money which will help more families get the support they so desperately need. Thank you to everyone who made this event a huge success.”

The guest speaker was the British & Irish Lions rugby legend Willie John McBride, who passionately recalled his role as captain on the Lions’ victorious tour of South Africa in 1974 and received a standing ovation from the guests.

Former Kent and England cricket captain Chris Cowdrey presided over the fundraising, which included a raffle, silent auction and live auction.

Among the prizes was an array of sporting memorabilia, including a Lions jersey signed by Willie John McBride and a trip to watch the Monaco Grand Prix.

Chris said: “As someone living locally and the father of twin boys, I have been aware of the tremendous work Tree of Hope does to raise funds for children suffering from a disability or illness for some time.

‘It was an amazing day and we managed to raise a fantastic amount of money which will help more families get the support they so desperately need’

“All children are incredibly special, and I wanted to pledge my support in whatever way I could to help this amazing charity to continue their great work.”

Tree of Hope is a crowdfunding organisation that supports families of seriously ill and disabled children who need specialist medical treatment, therapy and equipment which is not available on the NHS.

Gill Gibb, its Chief Executive, described how families had benefitted from the £2million it has spent since last year’s Sporting Heroes lunch.

Over £500,000 was spent on physiotherapy, £300,000 has bought over 230 pieces of specialist equipment and £200,000 has been spent on surgery and treatment in the UK and abroad.

This event was organised by Tree of Hope Trustee Pip Lightbody, who said: “The Sporting Heroes Lunch really highlighted how people come together to create a great atmosphere and have fun, whilst at the same time contributing so generously to help others.

“In this case brave little heroes and their parents with massive challenges to overcome.” 


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