Hilden Grange’s charity fair
26 October 2020
A fair to remember
Forty minutes south of London, Hilden Grange Prep School is buzzing with excitement. The school is a hub of activity as pupils of all ages flit between the stalls. Today is the day of the Charity Fair. Organised by a pupil-led charity committee, the school has been preparing for this event for weeks.
“It’s a fair run by the children for the children,” explains Jessica Tait, the school’s Charity Co-ordinator. “In their form groups, they plan a stall to run with pocket money. They all go and run the stalls and year groups take turns to play the stalls.”
On one side of the hall, a crowd of children are trying to kick footballs into goal posts, while on the other they are queuing to donate their pocket money to the cookie decorating stall.
“They love getting involved and it gives them responsibility to run their own stalls.”
Evelina London cares for various pupils in the school, so Hilden Grange already had a special bond with the hospital before the school proclaimed it their Charity of the Year.
“The children knew more about Evelina London than I did at first!” Jessica jokes.
But their relationship with the hospital deepened when they met Caroline May, an Evelina London fundraising ambassador whose son Arthur is cared for at the hospital.
Caroline went above and beyond to help the children get a sense of the hospital that saved her son, going as far as attending their school fair and answering questions that the children had about her family’s experience.
Her willingness to share Arthur’s story with the students at Hilden Grange really helped them get a strong sense of the cause and inspired them to fundraise with The Cardiology Kids, a community-led fundraising group Caroline founded.
“The children really enjoyed hearing about it,” says Jessica. “Having their fundraising linked to Arthur’s experiences gave it a personal touch.”
Fundraising for the whole school community
Learning about Evelina London didn’t just inspire the students to fundraise, it invigorated their parents too.
“Many of the parents have needed the hospital for their children in the past, and some may need to take their children there some time in the future,” explained Jess. “They really connected to our fundraising this year, so they wanted to get involved.”
The PTA decided to organise something to help the school’s donations go further. Over the Christmas Holidays they hosted a special charity quiz night for the parents and wider school community.
Thanks to their efforts, they helped raise the school’s fundraising to a total of £3,685 so far.
“Evelina London sticks close to people’s hearts,” says Jessica. “Everyone was really focused on fundraising to help the children at our local hospital. It’s been very encouraging.”
Visiting Evelina London
To really bring the hospital to life for the pupils at Hilden Grange, Caroline even invited a small group of children to come along to Arthur’s next cardiology appointment.
“It’s just so friendly and welcoming. The kids loved the big blue slide in the entrance and were fascinated by the atmosphere. It didn’t feel like a hospital,” recalls Jessica. “Arthur’s consultant was so helpful and happy to talk to us during Arthur’s appointment too.”
“It was great to see the pupils at Hilden Grange at Arthur’s appointment and help them to get an idea of what we do,” says Dr Aaron Bell, Arthur’s consultant. “The pupils were really engaged, and Arthur was a star. I hope they got what they needed from the day and wish them luck with all the fundraising!”
With Caroline’s help the students were encouraged to think about all the ways Evelina London is different to other hospitals in its unique child-centred approach to care.
“It really opened their eyes to what a hospital could be,” says Jessica.
“It was fantastic to be able to visit and we love the relationship our school has with Evelina London.”
Please note, this visit was in 2019 and school visits to Evelina London are currently on hold. Once they resume, visits will be arranged on a school by school basis. This event took place before the Government's Covid-19 restrictions came into place.