Charity event for Hope and Homes for Children at Blickling Hall near Aylsham

A Norfolk support group for a charity with strong links to the county is holding a special fundraising event to mark its 15th year.

The group, which raises money for Hope and Homes for Children, is staging a garden party and afternoon tea at Blickling Hall near Aylsham.

In its 15 years, it has pulled in tens of thousands of pounds for the charity, which was set up by Earsham-born Col Mark Cook and his wife Caroline.

Support group organiser Hilary Kisby said she got involved after responding to an EDP appeal for money in 2003 to help children at the Maygoma Institution in Khartoum, Sudan. Readers were responsible for saving the lives of 700 children at what was known as the Baby Dump.

She said: 'It is such a good cause. The emphasis of the charity has changed over the years. It started with rebuilding orphanages, but that has been recognised to not be the way forward.

'The way forward is to have children in their own homes, with foster carers or adopted parents.'

Hope and Homes for Children began when Col Cook, the former commander of British forces in Croatia, was helping to restore a children's home in the war-smashed town of Lipik.

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He then turned to the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, where he and Mrs Cook helped to rebuild the main city orphanage under heavy shelling and sniper fire in 1994.

By then he had left the army and Hope and Homes for Children was born with a �25,000 start up donation from EDP readers to help it on its way.

In the ensuing years there have been countless missions of hope to many different countries with the Salisbury-based charity.

Among them were tragic children like Tenneh Cole and Issa Kamara from Sierra Leone, both airlifted to Norwich for medical treatment.

The charity currently works in Eastern Europe in Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova and Transnistria, Romania and Ukraine, and in Africa in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Sudan.

Col and Mrs Cook will be the guests of honour at Blickling Hall.

? The event is on Tuesday, June 14 from 2.30-5pm, with tickets available by calling support group organiser Hilary Kisby on 01603 868539.

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