Charity status – at last

I have a page on my blog dedicated to Downham House, the respite centre that Archie attends once a week. About eighteen months ago a small group of parents set up Friends of Downham House to fundraise for the centre. This became more urgent when we learned that we were going to be losing the use of the hydrotherapy pool in the next door school due to relocation. Finally, this morning we have obtained charitable status which will make fundraising a whole lot easier.

It has been a busy week for Downham House as yesterday Donna (the treasurer) and I were in the local rag along with our two very angelic looking boys (don’t be fooled, they were causing chaos between them at the time). We were pleased with the article in that is talked about the important role that Dowham House plays, didn’t confuse us with Downham School (always a bonus) and explained why we are fundraising. What it didn’t really mention was the agony Donna and I put ourselves through doing Ten Tors for Grown Ups.

Ten Tors is a well known long distance walk held annually on Dartmoor. My last experience of Ten Tors was in 1986; one of the ‘bad’ years when dreadful conditions forced many to drop out. Our team completed without any drop-outs but apparently we were unusual. Twenty-six years later, it wasn’t any easier, and the weather was still pretty grim. We did have the advantage of being grown ups which meant we could stay in a bunkhouse in Princetown on the Saturday night and have a tour of  the Dartmoor Brewery.  However, we still had to walk 35 miles and we still ended up with blisters (Donna had a fine pair, as did Nigel – revolting photograph below), black toes (Donna) and swollen legs (me – horse fly bite I think). The original plan was for people connected to Downham House to do the walk but for various reasons it ended up being just me and Donna that had a Downham House connection. We were very pleased to be joined by friends and various random strangers (who are strangers no more!) and we were very moved by the amount of effort our team mates put into fundraising and taking part. The final total still needs to be calculated but it looks as if we have raised around £2500 – a fantastic amount and worth the blisters. Huge thanks to everyone who sponsored us.

Nigel Gifford who whizzed through the route took some fabulous photos  and I’ve made a little gallery of these along with a few of Donna’s photos below. It was a great weekend and we’re now trying to plan another challenge.

We’re currently in the process of setting up a Just Giving page. In the meantime donations to Friends of Downham House can still be made through the PayPal button on the Downham House page on this blog.

Now we have charitable status we are also very keen to find our patron. Ideally the person will have links to Devon and/or an interest in encouraging those with learning disabilities to lead full and active lives.  Video taken at the last Downham House surf day gives an idea of the sorts of great things the centre does with the kids in its care. Any ideas, for patrons, future challenges or for fundraising, please get in touch.

PS Update –  Ten Tors for Grown Ups  raised over £3000 – thank you everyone.

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