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Sheltered housing scheme smashes £10,000 fundraising target in colleague’s memory

2 September 2014

Residents and staff at a sheltered housing scheme in Birmingham have created a lasting legacy for a loved former colleague, after exceeding their £10,000 fundraising target in her memory. 

Chiswick House, which is managed by Optima Housing, has been fundraising for its chosen charities since 2008, during which time residents and staff have organised a variety of activities to raise money. The latest event was held in memory of community stalwart Pearl Bayliss, who had worked at the scheme for more than 50 years.

More than £1,000 was raised on the day through bring-and-buy stalls, jewellery stands and putting Optima and contractor Axis staff in the stocks. This took the total of money raised beyond the £10,000 target. 

Pearl Bayliss had worked as a cleaner at Chiswick House since 1962 and was highly thought of by both residents and colleagues. Following the death of her husband Len, people at the scheme decided to raise money for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, where he had been cared for. Sadly, Pearl too passed away in May, and the event was changed to be hosted in her honour.

Julie Monaghan, scheme manager for Optima, which is part of WM Housing Group, said, “Everyone here was devastated when Pearl passed away. She was very popular with all our residents and was always full of energy. We were determined to make it a day that did her proud, and through the hard work of everyone at the scheme we raised a fantastic amount of money.

“We think it’s really important to support charity initiatives, both locally and nationally. I’m really proud of everything we’ve achieved at Chiswick House and the difference that our donations will have made to peoples lives.”

A plaque was unveiled in memory of Pearl, and a rose was planted in her honour. They money will be donated to Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice through her husband Len’s butterfly trust.

Pearl and Len’s daughter, Tracey Whillock attended the event to celebrate the long-standing contribution her mother had made to the lives of those living at Chiswick House.

She said: “We are delighted with how much money was raised. Everyone worked really hard to make it a special day and we want to give special thanks to Julie, who worked tirelessly to make the event a success.

“It was a wonderful day and the community spirit really shone through. My sister and I unveiled the plaque for my mum. It was very emotional but we’re both really happy she’s being remembered in this way.”

Each year, residents at the scheme decide on the charities they would like to support and ways in which they can raise money. So far, they have made donations to the British Legion, Help For Heroes, Macmillan and many more worthy causes.

Rhianna Cooper, community fundraiser at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: ““We are delighted to receive this donation from Chiswick House. The money will make a real difference to the patients of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice and their families.

“To put it into context, a donation of this size could provide a family with 400 hours of palliative care from one of our specialist Hospice at Home nurses, or alternatively 34 days of care at our Day Hospice facility. A huge thank you to all of the residents and staff.”