Heaven and hell: Fundraiser Patzi Shepperson OBE

Patzi Shepperson out for a walk with her Labradoodle, Boris. Picture: Contributed

Patzi Shepperson out for a walk with her Labradoodle, Boris. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

Patzi Shepperson was part of the first ever Red Nose Day team and co-organised the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction.

Fundraiser Patzi Shepperson on her trip to the palace where she was made an OBE. Picture: Contribute

Fundraiser Patzi Shepperson on her trip to the palace where she was made an OBE. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

Patzi Shepperson OBE is a dynamic charity fundraising veteran. She was part of the Comic Relief team that organised the first-ever Red Nose Day and was the creator of the record-breaking, Diamond Jubilee inspired Face Britain self-portraiture project. And she has proudly been the co-organiser of the Ed Sheeran: Made In Suffolk Legacy Auction, which has raised an incredible £506,000.

What is your connection to East Anglia?

I grew up in Devon, studied and worked in London, but have lived in Hadleigh, Suffolk for most of my life – over 27 years, so it’s home to me and my three, now adult, children.

What is your East Anglian Heaven?

The landscape, coastline and the way the light falls; as the most easterly region of the UK, we are the first to greet the sunrise and the dawn of a new day.

What is your East Anglian Hell?

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Oh, difficult but if pushed, the road and public transport network systems.

What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?

The Bell at Kersey – locally sourced food, great value and super generous portions. My only regret is I have never had enough room to try their Toblerone cheesecake. For breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, Folk at Hall Farm, Bury St Edmunds. My only hope is that life gets back to some kind of normality very soon. Supporting our local high streets, shops and businesses is crucial for their survival.

What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?

Walking Boris, my very large, bouncy, but well-intentioned, Labradoodle, along the River Walk in Hadleigh and beyond.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

The River Walk in Hadleigh; a wonderful way to observe wildlife, the arrival and passing of the seasons. Despite running parallel to the town’s High Street, I’ve encountered kingfishers, cuckoos, woodpeckers, bats, water voles, Muntjac deer, grass snakes, dragonflies and rabbits. I feel truly lucky to be so close to nature, reflecting how my children were able to grow up here, picnicking in the fields, picking blackberries and playing on the rope swings in the woods.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

The Hadleigh Show in May. Sadly missed this year.

What your specialist Mastermind subject?

Oh crikes! I can’t say I am a specialist in any subject, but I do have the capacity to retain useless trivia and just love a pub quiz.

What is always in your fridge?

Wine, cheese, Lane Farm Brundish cacon and Pinney’s of Orford smoked salmon offcuts from East of England Co-op. The salmon is great with scrambled eggs on toast as a special treat.

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Be kind.

What’s your favourite film?

The Sound of Music.

What was your first job?

Saturday girl on checkout out in M&S Food Hall in Plymouth, my home town. It made me appreciate the importance of the words please and thank you, which goes such a long way. They are the most important items in a fund raiser’s tool kit. My first full-time job was at Save The Children London HQ in the events and promotions department. I was seconded from there to Comic Relief and was so fortunate to be part of the first-ever Red Nose Day team. We had no idea how big it would become and it was brilliant as I was able to draft fundraising materials in Lenny speak, so it was all totally crucial and really wicked!

What is your most treasured possession?

My family and friends; material possessions are not a match for lifelong relationships and memories.

Who do you admire most?

As 2020 is the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, our nurses and healthcare workers who are with us at our first, our most vulnerable and our last, especially in this very different world we are now living in.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Toblerone and smoked salmon offcuts.

What do you like about yourself most?

Dancing like no one is watching.

What’s your worst character trait?

The misguided belief that it is still ok to dance like no one is watching in public!

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

My mother Heidi was Swiss and I have a lot of family in Switzerland. Like my Mum, I am moved to tears when I see the Matterhorn.

Best day of your life?

Cliché I know, but seeing the face of each of my three children on the day they were born.

Most recently, going to the Palace with my adult children to receive an OBE in last year’s New Year’s Honours for services to fundraising and charity. I still have to pinch myself to believe it’s true.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

Spoiler alert above; smoked salmon offcuts with scrambled eggs on toast.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Swiss Dôle wine, but it’s not exported, so have to rely on visits from my family or returning to Switzerland.

What’s your hidden talent?

I can yodel!

When were you most embarrassed?

Dancing in public like no-one was watching!

What’s your earliest memory?

Rattling collecting tins for Mencap, as my older brother Christopher has special needs. My parents were tireless in their efforts to raise funds and established a youth club, at a time when there was little opportunity for families to socialise together.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Oh that’s something I haven’t really thought about. Probably Kirsty MacColl’s cover of Days by the Kinks. Or Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I am fluent in French.

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

Being told “Eh hem, do you know the back of your skirt is tucked into your tights” having escorted a celebrity guest speaker through a crowded VIP reception at a fundraiser in a very smart London hotel. Not my finest moment it has to be said!

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.

It’s home and I have made wonderful friends here over the years. There is something special about East Anglia; and it’s no coincidence that many great artists, past and present, are drawn to the region. I had the great honour of working, with you (Gina Long), as co-organiser of the Ed Sheeran: Made In Suffolk Legacy Auction. Despite such a challenging economic climate, it raised a total of £406,000 in bids, along with an incredibly generous donation of £100,000 from Suffolk businessman and philanthropist, Guy Nicholls of Tru7 Group. Never has there been a more crucial time to help fund children and young people with disabilities and life-limiting illness across East Anglia. The auction provided a great, celebratory platform to highlight the region’s cultural and artistic heritage, with stunning works donated by artists, sculptors and craftsmen living and working in Suffolk and Norfolk.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

Well, firstly, I would like to say a huge thank you to all those amazing artists, the many companies, small businesses, hotels and restaurants who generously supported the auction. To say this has been a tough year is a gross understatement, so the incredible level of support is all the more remarkable. The impact of the pandemic has been devastating, but it has also highlighted the importance of key workers and volunteers. Charities and community groups have had to reinvent themselves and create new ways to raise funds, especially without the possibility of holding events. But with a strong sense of belief in the cause, an innovative approach and dogged determination, the generosity of the great British public, even in such hard times, will never cease to amaze and be truly humbling.

If you have an interesting story, to be considered for my Q&A, do please email me gina@hallfarmfornham.com. Follow me on Twitter @geewizzgee1

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