The 8th July 2009 saw two of the LeeFest organisers, Edd and Pete, as well as Lee’s mum Rosie travel to Willow HQ in Hatfield. It was an eventful journey where Edd managed not to crash much to my surprise.
On arriving at Willow House we were shown the inner working of the Willow Foundation, including a demonstration of the process that Special Day applications to Willow go through. I must say that for me the experience was truly humbling.
To see the number of requests that they receive, the variety of Special Days requested (from tea on the Orient Express to meeting Rhidian from X Factor!) and the dedication with which the staff worked to make these experiences happen was mind-blowing.
The Willow Foundation is not a massive all-consuming corporate machine, it a small, dedicated team of caring people who take a personal interest in trying to bring a day of happiness to young adults suffering from various serious illnesses.
Days being requested, organised and rearranged the spaces where, sadly, the Special Day hadn’t come in time. It brought the reality of LeeFest and what we doing back with a thump.
When we met Bob and his wife Megs, we were at first a little star struck – I mean this man (despite being a Gooner and playing for Scotland ) was a goalkeeping legend – not to mention his illustrious television career. But that soon subsided. The most striking thing about the Wilsons was how human they were.
They spent a lot of time talking to Rosie about Lee and sharing experiences about their daughter Anna and they made us feel very comfortable. We then went outside to have promo piccies taken (some to follow on www.leefest.org)and to hand over our donations.
My abiding memory will be that as we handed over the (giant, comedy) cheque I felt dual emotions – pride at what LeeFest and all of you guys had helped us achieved; determination that we needed to raise even more next year and help more people through the Willow Foundation.
PS – an honourable mention has to be given at this juncture for all of the support that we have had from the Willow Foundation in organising LeeFest. Lauren and Rich in particular have been very good to us and we are very grateful for their help.
PPS – in case you hadn’t already heard, LeeFest/Stock 2009 raised £5274.76 (that smashes last year’s £2600)!
Massive. Well done to you guys, let’s beat it next year!