My View, Mel Hewitt - A charity day to remember

Optima family fun day in Doncaster.
Optima family fun day in Doncaster.

We have been lucky enough over the last few weeks to enjoy the most beautiful summer weather.

A little hot at times perhaps, but what glorious evenings if you’re lucky enough to have a moment in the garden or even enjoying the view from an open window.

Whether you’re born and brought up in the country, town or some point in between, days out in the school holidays are often remembered with a roseate glow – even if in reality they might actually have included torrential rain and sheltering in the car.

So, whether on a bus or train in a car or under your own steam the ‘day out’ is firmly fixed in the calendar of most people.

In Edwardian times the annual outing to the seaside for the servants was much anticipated, as was the servants’ ball. Devotees of Upstairs Downstairs and more recently Downton Abbey have no doubt seen both portrayed.

I can remember Sunday School trips in the 60’s to Scarborough and to towns and cities across Yorkshire to see The Sound of Music, which seemed to be playing at a cinema somewhere for most of the decade!

For many months a very special day out has been planned by the tremendous team at Optima International.

Their fourth annual charity Gala Day to raise funds for St John’s Hospice deserved to be a triumph and so it turned out to be.

Earlier this year Optima adopted St John’s as their charity of the year and were determined to make this year’s event even more successful than the previous three, which had raised a stunning total of £12,000 for the hospice.

On the day, the sun shone and all the fun of the fair was there, the stocks with willing victims trying in vain to dodge wet sponges, hot dogs, burgers, tombola, delicious cakes and tea, fun rides and a prize draw with more than fifty prizes to be won.

Donnie Dog the Rovers’ mascot joined us, children enjoyed the rides and the face painting and will no doubt remember the gala day for a very long time.

Being part of the day with colleagues from the Hospice was a real joy.

A great day’s fun for hundreds of people doesn’t happen without an awful lot of hard work and dedication. This the staff at Optima gave in bucketfuls.

They have written letters to ask for prizes, sold raffle tickets, baked cakes, erected marquees, set the day up and cleared everything away.

In short they have worked tirelessly and with good hearts. The money raised has already and incredibly topped £9,000 and is still rising.

I am always humbled by the things people do for us on a daily basis. You can never become blasé about effort and sheer determination to support a cause so cherished by so many people.

The team at Optima are my local heroes – I’d like to say thank you to you all.

* Mel Hewitt, community fundraiser, St John’s Hospice.