Monthly Archives: November 2015

Charity of the Week – Demelza Hospice Care

Demelza logo

Demelza House was set up by Derek and Jennifer Phillips and named after their daughter who had worked at a children’s hospice prior to her death. After visiting the hospice facility she had worked in her parents wanted to establish a place to bring cheerfulness and affection to children in similar need in their local area. Demelza House was formed in December 1994 and opened in 1998.

The ethos of Demelza is to “add life to days when days cannot be added to life” and they aim to help the families make the most of each moment while creating precious memories. Hospices are no longer about lives without hope.

Demelza supports hundreds of families across Kent, SE London & East Sussex whilst providing specialist expert care for babies, children and teenagers as well as their families. They work hard to take away the stress that the families feel and bring fun back into family life

Having a child with a disability can mean that families miss out the things that others take for granted so, for example, the family can swim together in the wonderful hydrotherapy pool. It’s important to support siblings and to help them realise that there are lots of people who have a sick brother or sister and they can still have a childhood.

Hydrotherapy pool

“I was one of the first to try out the new hydrotherapy pool. I love the pool as it is the only way now I can manage to walk by holding onto the bars. The warm water really relaxes me and helps me to feel free.“


The staff work closely with the children and young people during the transitional period between childhood and the teenage years. They support them on shaping life after Demelza and offer advice; what shapes the support is the wants and needs of those young people.

Unfortunately the young people who are referred to Demelza are not expected to reach adulthood and their families are supported through bereavement as well as treatment if they need it.

“We stayed for seven days completely smothered with care and understanding.  Staff were there to talk us through the worst days of our lives. They made phone calls, dealt with about 200 visitors, brought us tea, sandwiches, crisps, cakes, they never grumbled. They organised everything, it was astounding.”



A bereavement weekend is held in the summer and families come back to remember their child or children, share their experience with others and have fun.



Care doesn’t stop for high days and holidays and is free of charge. Apart from a small amount of Government funding, the people of Kent supply most of the money needed for Demelza to function on a daily basis.

Dan O’Connor who took part in a Polar Circle Marathon in Greenland said this about why he was raising money for them:

“I chose Demelza as it is a brilliant charity which does not have the financial and marketing capability of larger multinational charities. Every small donation will directly help a child and their family as they fight a battle that no child should have to fight.”

In order for Demelza to keep on supporting children and their families they will continue to rely on public donations. There is a charity shop in West Wickham on the High Street so if you’d like to make a donation you can do so there. If you’d like to know when the shop is open to accept donations (or buy something!) then you can ring them on 020 8776 2333.

You can find Demelza on Twitter, Facebook and they have their own website.

Community Group of the Week – Bromley Common Allotment Garden Association (BCA)

bromley-common-allotment-logoBromley Common Allotment Garden Association (BCA) run two allotment sites in Bromley – Turpington Lane (formerly known as Grub Meadow) and Holy Trinity.

They are a friendly people whose history as a group of growers dates back to 1942 though the Turpington Lane site has been allotments since 1926.

Sarah Pearce, who took on her allotment in 2011, says that Tuprington Lane has some of the best facilities in Bromley including toilets and mains water – quite a luxury apparently! They have a Sunday Trading Store so people in the local community can buy garden products each week.

All allotment sites in Bromley are self managed which means that all the BCA plot holders get together regularly through the year for working parties. With the help of a dedicated site manager the general maintenance of the allotments and the upkeep of the sites are managed that way.

The plot holders of BCA recognise that allotments are much needed green space but that they also nurture friendships, aid mental and physical health and provide some of the cement that is needed for the community as a whole.

BCA have a wide range of plot holders – families with young children, older people and novices and they grow an equally wide range of fruit and vegetables. As well as the normal range of fruit and veg you would expect there are grape vines and kiwi fruit growing on the allotments and water melons were produced last year!


“It’s a wonderful experience to grow food and see wildlife even if the British weather is a bit of a challenge at times!”

The original hutIt’s the 90th anniversary of the allotments next year and during that time they’ve seen the community through WWII and rationing yet they are now under threat so as well as celebrating the plot holders will are also campaigning to save this much needed green space.

Currently there is a waiting list at Turpington Lane but there are vacancies at the Holy Trinity site. You can find BCA on Twitter as @DigTurpington as well as on their own website.

Charity of the Week – Free Cakes For Kids Bromley

Free cakes logoFree Cakes for Kids is a charity that is based on a simple idea: baking cakes for families who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child. The cakes are baked by volunteers who donate their skills and time and also the ingredients for the cakes and bake them at home. In the past seven years it has grown to nearly 60 groups and has many volunteers across the country.


Free Cakes For Kids in Bromley is always looking for volunteers to bake a cake for a child in the area. The process is simple – apply to be a baker then when a referral comes in everybody gets the details in an email. You don’t have to promise to bake huge amounts of cakes and it’s not about being an expert it’s about baking something special for a child who would otherwise go without a cake to mark their birthday.

Cakes ii

Being able to give a child a special cake for their birthday lessens, in a small but much needed way, the divide between the those who have and those who have not. Having a cake made especially for you makes you feel special and appreciated. It’s easy to request a cake for a  child who may have little joy in their life and the bonus is that you feel good too.

Cakes i

A recent project has seen the network of bakers providing 360 cupcakes a day for five days for Bromley Children Project. That’s 1,800 cup cakes in less than a week! I can’t imagine just how that was done but where there’s a will there’s obviously a way!

“Sometimes it’s the only gift that people get. We are privileged to be part of that.”

If you can donate some ingredients such as sugar, flour and other non perishable items then please tweet them. If you’re a business who is looking to support a charity then there can’t be another one that’s so feel good!

You can find Free Cakes For Kids Bromley on Twitter, Facebook and on their own website. The national website has a map where you can find the other groups across the UK.

Charity of the Week – Friends of Bromley Road School, Beckenham

FOBR logo 1I had a tweet hinting that @FofBromelyRd were a really dynamic PTFA group and so I spoke to Clare Cassano, one of the “friends”, about them.

Tell me about Bromley Road School

Bromley Road School is currently undergoing some changes. Until recently it was an infants only school but has now converted to a full primary school and has children from age 4 to 11. Our playground equipment was originally purchased some years ago to cater for younger children. This has now been removed and plans are in place to replace with new playground furniture including a climbing wall, a tyre crossing, swinging grips and spiders net so that there is something for everyone and will encourage the children to get active both during their PE lessons and at play time.

I saw on your web page that there is something called jolly jars, what are they?

Jolly jars are little gifts or prizes that the children have been tasked with putting together during their half term holiday in preparation for our Winter Wonderland Fair taking place on 29 November. They take an old jar and fill it with little toys, sweeties or anything else they think might be appealing, then decorate with ribbons, tinsel or something else festive for one of the stalls at the fair. These have proven really popular in previous fairs. They’re like a festive version of a lucky dip.

What’s the connection between cakes and own clothes day?

The own clothes day on the 27th November is to remind children, their parents and carers that it’s cake donation day. This is in aid of our fair which is being held on 28th November where we run a small cake café which has also been very popular in the past.

How strong is the support of the community?

We have a small number of parents and carers who get together often to co-ordinate all of the PTFA’s activities, but all the parents and carers of children at Bromley Road School automatically become members of the PTFA when their child joins the school.

The jolly jars and cake days are really good ways of enabling parents/carers who are keen to be involved but unable to make a more regular commitment to get make a contribution to the PTFA’s work.

We’ve had some great support from some of the local businesses in Beckenham too who have provided prizes and donations for our raffle. The PTFA have helped to engage with these local businesses and have them join and be involved in the school community.

Your Chair has a terrific reputation, who is she?

Belinda is our Chair of the Friends of Bromley Road and she is a superstar. Her passion and creativity really drive the group forward. She’s a real doer and if she’s not generating to do lists and keeping us all on track then she’s probably face painting or making crafts to sell. She’s a really visible presence in the playground and is great at engaging with new parents/carers and getting them on board.

What’s special about the Friends of Bromley Road PTFA?

It is that we want to help enhance student life at the school and create unique experiences for our children as well as supporting the school. The past year has seen some terrific events including picnics on Beckenham Green, a fancy dress school disco and the Summer Fair. Our second hand uniform sales are such a good way for families to supplement their children’s uniforms.

With the proceeds of the Summer Fair and raffle we were able to purchase a special workshop which was about dinosaurs which included a life-size animatronic baby T rex visiting the school – we think that’s pretty special!

Friends of Bromley Road School are on Twitter, Facebook and have their own page on the school website.