Monday, 17 April 2017

Uckfield WI Press Release

One of the many things keeping me busy lately is the work I've been doing with my fellow committee members at Uckfield WI.  I joined this new group as it formed last spring, around the same time my baking club was getting off the ground (and has since become incorporated with the WI group).  It has kept me very busy (I am actually still behind on the WI blog which I've still to update with our latest meetings) and then we decided to throw a ball for our birthday!  We're raising funds for our local children's hospice and thought this would be a good way to kick off our second year with a big fund raiser.  It was A LOT of work but so worth it as you can see in the following press release I wrote after the event:

Uckfield WI, affectionately known as the Belles, celebrated their first birthday in style this March with a fundraising ball which raised almost £4,000 for Demelza Children's Hospice.  The Belles are a 150 strong group enjoying a variety of fun and informative activities throughout the year such as gin tasting, Christmas wreath making and line-dancing.  They also have a number of sub-groups for members to enjoy such as Baking Club, a Choir, Craft Club and Supper Club to name just a few.

As part of their commitment to aid the local community, last summer the Belles voted overwhelmingly for Demelza Children’s Hospice in East Sussex as their main charity to support.  Their fundraising efforts so far have included a stall selling cakes and treats at Uckfield's Late Night Shopping event, a 100 club and the Belles Ball, during which they held auctions and drew a raffle as well as a few fun games, all supported by their members and many local businesses.
The Uckfield WI hosted their first big fundraising event, the Belles' Ball, on the evening of Saturday 18th March 2017 at the East Sussex National resort in Uckfield.  Demelza provides a ‘hospice at home’ service to families throughout East Sussex. Their specialist nursing team looks after children with life limiting and life threatening illnesses and supports their family. They provide nursing care, practical and emotional support and respite care, all of which takes place in the family home. This flexible care provision enables families to live their lives in their own environment and takes away some of the strain of caring for a life-limited child.

The Uckfield Belles hoped to raise a substantial sum of money for the Hospice as the perfect way to honour their 1st anniversary as a WI.  Only a small percentage of Demelza’s costs are covered by government funding so the money raised will enable them to provide vital support to local families. 

Photo credit: WebPhotoUK

The event was a fantastic success, a great night out was had by all who attended and the determined fundraising efforts of the Uckfield WI committee were met with great generosity.  The guests, both members and non-members, were treated to a 3 course meal, wine and Prosecco as well as a photo booth and live band to dance the night away.  Two of Demelza's nurses gave an emotional speech, hearing first hand the incredible and valuable work they do supporting children and families really brought home how vital fundraising is.  The Belles also welcomed a table of Demelza staff at the event.

The Belles were delighted to be able to present a cheque to Demelza ambassador, Jean, at the Belles' birthday meeting on 21st March where they also enjoyed various cakes made by members of their baking club.  Jean also attended the ball and had such a lovely time, she has since joined Uckfield WI as a member.  

Julie Brett, Community Fundraiser at Demelza, said, "I’m absolutely thrilled with the amazing cheque for £3,930 from the Belles! They’ve worked tirelessly over the last few months so I’m thrilled that the Ball was such a big success on the night. It costs, on average, £1,600 per day to run our services in East Sussex so the ladies have raised enough money to pay for two days of care for the whole county! This is a fantastic achievement and we’ll be able to help so many children and families with this wonderful donation."

To raise awareness of its daily cost, Demelza South East dedicates a day to a person or organisation that raises £1,600.  With over £4,000 raised so far, Uckfield WI have been given the opportunity to chose two, the first they chose is the 8th of March, the day they opened their membership and filled all 150 spaces in 9 minutes 53 seconds!  The 8th is also International Women's Day so apt for the WI.  The second is the 22nd of March, the date of their first meeting as a WI.

Uckfield WI president, Leasa Buhlman, said "We are ecstatic that all our hard work has already resulted in over £4,000 for the charity to date.  We've decided to raise funds for Demelza as our long-term project, we have plenty more ideas and we hope to continue our success.  We're so pleased with the positive response we've received from our local community, both in the lead up to and on the night of the ball, Desmond Gunner and East Sussex National in particular went above and beyond."

The next event the Belles plan to participate in is the Bubble Rush Brighton, organised by Demelza and they are also starting work on a recipe book to sell at the next Late Night Shopping event in Uckfield in December.  You can find out more about these and other projects as well as details about Uckfield WI meetings on their blog at and their Facebook page:

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