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Charitable fund changes lives in East Anglia's communities

PUBLISHED: 13:27 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:01 13 February 2019

The Cork family before Finnbar's diagnosis - parents Tristan and Claire with sister Nell (far left) and Finnbar  Picture: Cork family

The Cork family before Finnbar's diagnosis - parents Tristan and Claire with sister Nell (far left) and Finnbar Picture: Cork family

Cork family

A charitable fund is helping communities across East Anglia to help themselves. Today, tomorrow and next week we talk to some of the beneficiaries of the Aviva Community Fund.

Charlotte Hosier, aged six, in the library at Yaxham primary school  Picture: Melissa HosierCharlotte Hosier, aged six, in the library at Yaxham primary school Picture: Melissa Hosier

A charity set up to help children with brain tumours and their families has received financial support from the Aviva Community Fund, which supports good causes across East Anglia.

Finnbar’s Force, established in 2017 by Tristan and Claire Cork following the loss of their son Finnbar to an aggressive brain tumour in 2016, is one of more than 30 beneficiaries of the fund in Norfolk and north Suffolk this year.

Finnbar was five years old when he died just five months after diagnosis. He had many friends at school and in his local community around Hethersett.

The charity provides useful information such as where to access support and help, and raises money to fund further research into childhood brain tumours and specialist equipment.

The recent opening of a play park in North Walsham  Picture: John Newstead PhotographyThe recent opening of a play park in North Walsham Picture: John Newstead Photography

Crucially, it also gives families small grants (currently up to £300) in the early diagnosis period to help with the costs associated with a stay in hospital. These can include emergency accommodation, hospital car parking fees and food.

Rebecca Wright, a fundraiser and friend of the family, said: “The money from the fund – around £1,000 - will be used to help other families in similar situations.

“It’s going to give families one less thing to worry about when visiting their child or sister or brother in hospital and allows families to focus on spending time together.”

Jude Brooks, from the Aviva Community Fund team, explained: “At Aviva, we are proud to support all causes that are working hard to make a positive impact in their local area, by providing skills, knowledge and connections so that together we can build stronger communities.”

Aviva's Adam Crisp with Melanie Ruse at the last beach clean-up  Picture: AvivaAviva's Adam Crisp with Melanie Ruse at the last beach clean-up Picture: Aviva

And at Yaxham primary school, near Dereham, children are set to benefit from a £1,000 grant to buy books.

Melissa Hosier, Friend of the School and mum of Year 2 pupil Charlotte, aged six, said: “Reading is so important and the school take it very seriously, regularly asking pupils to tell morning assembly about their favourite books.”

She explained that it was difficult for a rural school of under 100 pupils to raise sufficient funds among a relatively small group of families.

“It’s great to have the money for our library, and we’re so grateful to Aviva” she added. “The books we have are well-loved and worn, and the children will get so much enjoyment out of some new choices.”

In North Walsham, meanwhile, a voluntary group committed to expanding and maintaining areas for play in the town has an extra £940.50 to publicise the work it does and attract new funding.

“We are hoping to get six new information to put up in prominent locations in the town, advertising what we do and why we’re doing it,” said Matthew Smith, founder and trustee of North Walsham Play.

“In the last two years, we’ve raised £150,000 to fund and install equipment around the town on council land. The Aviva grant was perfect for our plan to draw attention to the good work that’s going on and to attract more funding.”

On the coast, youngsters have been at the forefront of community activity – and are celebrating with adults after a near-£5,000 boost to their efforts in cleaning up the beach at Gorleston.

The money will allow organisers Melanie Ruse and Peter Kirkpatrick to buy environmental kits to provide the equipment for 100 children and adults to participate in litter cleans. The kits will be reused multiple times.

Melanie said: “Gorleston Community Beach Clean have set up only three beach cleans since November 2017, but they are attracting some 125 people. The local support and interest shown by children prompted the bid when 50 were involved in the last event in October 2018.

“We are delighted that parents are bringing children as young as three! This gave us the idea of involving schools, colleges and local youth groups such as Scouts and Guides in beach cleans and litter picks. So, many thanks to Aviva for their support.

“If we bring up children to understand why littering is bad for the environment, hopefully the next generation can make our world a better place – starting with their local area.”

Peter, chair of Gorleston Community Forum, added: “We have a great community spirit in this area, where there are lots of local projects which come about from residents’ ideas.”

Are you a cause looking for support or want to volunteer in your local community? Get involved and sign up at www.doit.life/volunteering

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