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Star-studded event provides big boost to the community

Examples of excellent work supported by our partners at Paul Strank

20 September 2019

AFC Wimbledon’s stand sponsor Paul Strank Roofing are this Saturday staging its fantastic charity gala and we are proud to be associated with an event that raises vital funds for good causes.

Paul and Irene Strank have been raising money for numerous amazing causes over the years. Using their business Paul Strank Roofing as a springboard, they have helped thousands of people in and around South London and across the UK. This weekend is the ninth edition of the Paul Strank Roofing Charity Gala, sponsored by Burge & Gunson, Tony Britto Roofing Ltd, and The Newridge Group, and is the highlight of their charitable trust’s fundraising year. It once again takes place at the Bank of England Sports Centre in London.

Hosted by former EastEnders star Shaun Williamson and featuring an array of star performers, it promises to be another great night to highlight the charity’s work.

In the build-up to the event, we talked to representatives from three of the many charities that benefit greatly from the work in the community that our valued partners do every year.

Jane Sharpe, CEO of Rays of Sunshine, said:

“We’re so grateful to be one of the beneficiary charities for this year’s fundraising gala – it’s going to be an incredible evening.  As a charity, we receive no government funding so we can only continue our work thanks to the support of our generous partners, like the Paul Strank Charitable Trust. The funds raised have enabled us to continue our work brightening the lives of seriously ill children by granting their wishes, like seven-year-old Benjamin’s wish to swim with dolphins and go on holiday with his family. Benjamin is living with Complex Congenital Heart Defects. As a result of this he has had four open heart surgeries and multiple investigations under general anaesthetic. Benjamin will have to undergo further surgery and will most likely require a heart transplant.”

“When they returned his Mum gave us this feedback: ‘From the bottom of my heart I am so unbelievably thankful for what you and Rays of Sunshine has done for our family, it has been the most amazing week! I’ve seen my children smile and laugh like I have never seen before. As Benjamin said you have all made his life and it’s been so lovely spending time together as a family and not having to worry about anything.”

“Rays of Sunshine was formed in 2003 to brighten the lives of seriously ill young people and their families across the UK by granting wishes and providing ongoing support in hospital and within the community. The charity’s work creates a positive distraction, reduces isolation, improves self-esteem and creates precious memories and smiles. Every day of the year, Rays of Sunshine gives brave and deserving young people the chance to put their illness on hold and enjoy a moment of escape.”

Hayley Ranger, Head of Specialist Fundraising at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, said:

“The support from the Paul Strank Charitable Trust makes a huge difference to us. They’ve been on our journey for a long time and they have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for us and also helped to fund equipment and toys. The funding has gone towards equipment, including oxygen machines and children’s bedrooms, in particular for electronic beds that have to be set to different heights based on the child.

“The Paul Stank Charitable Trust previously held a Christmas party at St Christopher’s. As well as supporting us financially, they’ve also helped in other ways and it really helps to make a difference for the work that we do. On memory days for bereaved parents they’ve been involved in making keepsakes for children that have passed away. Irene and Paul fund some of those materials, which include picture frames, along with arts and crafts.

“Paul and Irene have helped out with funding Christmas trees. They had a contact that donated Christmas trees, which we put up in our hospices. Our staff would then decorate the trees so that really helped to get that Christmas spirit going. Staff from AFC Wimbledon came down and helped out on St Patrick’s Day when we made biscuits for the children and that helped get our story out there on social media. It helps to raise awareness, therefore gaining more support from the community.

“We are reliant on donations and the Paul Strank Charitable Trust give us valuable funding. That’s what we are relying on because the amount we get from the government only amounts to six weeks’ worth for the year. The rest is all donations. That’s why it’s so important that we raise awareness.

“I am not going to the Gala this time, but I have been in the past. Our Executive Vice Chairman Karen Sugarman usually speaks at the event, but this year Irene has a very tight schedule so we’ve sent a video over instead, highlighting our work for people to see. The gala is amazing and I’ve witnessed it on a number of occasions. It’s brilliant as everyone is so giving and very supportive.”

Naomi Martin, a Director at Commonside Community Development Trust, which has a local centre at Pollards Hill, said:

“We run the New Horizons Centre, which includes putting on a lunch club for older people, and we run the Step Forward programme. This supports families and local parents, including adults who need practical help and support with anything from housing problems, money problems, or low-level mental health. We do a lot of hand-holding, problem solving, and ways of helping them. In terms of numbers we see about 200 families a year at Step Forward and we have about 75 people registered on our lunch club register. Most of those are aged 75-plus. We have about 25-20 diners a day. At the centre itself we rent it out to generate income, but we also put on our own activities. The centre is rented out for fitness classes, mother and toddler groups, and for training courses.

“Over the last five years or so the Paul Strank Charitable Trust has helped to put on joint activities with us. They’ve helped us to run Christmas activities for the older people and this year they made a significant contribution to helps us stage a family fun day in August. We had Radio Jackie covering the event to raise awareness of what we do. Actor Danny-Boy Hatchard, who was in EastEnders, came down to support the event. We’ve got closer in terms of doing stuff together and they’ve also provided financial donations. They’ve been very generous, particularly in the last few years. That money generally goes to the family support that we offer. That’s the most difficult to get funding for, so that’s usually where it goes. Families book in appointments with us to discuss confidential stuff and we make phone calls for them, for example to the department of works and pensions if they are not sure what benefits they are on, or what they are entitled to. We help people to prepare applications for disability and health issues. People do turn up if they are in crisis and we try to help them as best as we can.

“On a Thursday morning, and we are hoping to expand this, we have a drop-in café where tea, coffee, and biscuits are free. People can come in and have a chat, get to know us and see if they want to make an appointment to discuss any particular issues that are bothering them. A lot of that Step Forward programme is one-to-one case work. We also run activities for primary school children during the school holidays, for example putting on craft, sports, and cooking. We also run after school cooking classes, which are really popular, and a junior football programme on Mondays. It all helps to provide important community services locally and we are grateful for the support that we receive from the Paul Strank Charitable Trust.”

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