Two schoolgirls who penned an apology after a sale they held for Trinity Hospice raised only £4 got to meet their heroes today.
Best friends Elouise O’Loughlin and Abbie Waters, both nine, tried to sell home-made slime and old toys up and down Holmfield Road in Bispham for more than five hours last weekend, but made just two sales.
Abbie, who lives on Cornwall Avenue in Bispham, had hoped to raise £50 for the hospice, which looked after her grandma and Elouise’s great-granddad before they died.
She said: “My nan used to go to Trinity a lot, so we decided to raise some money for it. They help out a lot of people when they are down or can’t cope on their own.
“Our aim, because we are in Bispham and not many people come where we live, was to raise £50.
“We were out there about five hours, but it’s not about that. Every penny counts.”
Abbie and Elouise left a letter at the Trinity Hospice’s shop in Red Bank Road, along with the £4 they had raised, apologising for their small donation and saying: “We might not have a lot that we have raised but we have tried out very best to give you money.
“We are choosing you because you helped our nan to be brave, you told her how to fight strong. We believe everyone, every person in their world deserves to be loved some type of way, even if they don’t have a lot.”
The note touched the hearts of staff, who appealed for the parents of the girls to come forward.
The letter was shared far and wide, and inspired more than 100 people to make their own donations to Trinity Hospice to ‘top up’ the money Abbie and Elouise had made.
At the time of going to print, an online fundraiser set up by Kieran Drinkwater had raised almost £1,600 and has attracted national media attention.
Abbie, who goes to Layton Primary School, and Elouise, who goes to Bispham Endowed, were given a tour of the hospice after classes finished, and tucked into homemade cake, and orange juice.
Staff wept as the pair met patients, who thanked the duo for their efforts. Elouise, who lives with her family in Holmfield Road, said: “We got to see where the money goes and it was very inspiring.”
Abbie added: “I think it’s just amazing how we can start off from £4 and raise so much money from people what we don’t even know.
“If they can help my nan it can help everyone.”
Patient Debbie Morrison, 57, of Poulton Old Road, Layton, said: “I think it’s brilliant young people are aware of what’s going on in the world around them.
“They are role models to their friends.”
Hilda Holding, 87, of the Prom in St Annes, who is in the hospice with cancer, added: “I think, for little girls like that to raise money off their own back, is wonderful .”.
Hospice sister Cathy Whittaker said: “I was amazed by how well they had done. I didn’t realise until yesterday just how much had been raised. They are need to be proud because what they have done is amazing, is lovely and overwhelming.
“We get some funding from the [local NHS] but we have to raise £5 million [every year] to keep going so it’s a huge thing. The fact people take the time to do it is lovely.”
Both Abbie and Elouise have their own personal links to Trinity Hospice.
Abbie’s grandma Christine Lea, who died in June 2017 from COPD, a progressive lung disease, aged 61, was helped during the last few years of her life.
And Elouise’s great-granddad, John Webster, who also died in 2017 at the age of 83, also received vital care from the hospice.
Elouise’s mum Vicky, 31, said: “Great-granddad had dementia. The nurses cam and gave him all of his care until he passed away. It makes them feel at ease.
“The nurses, to them, are like family. They don’t just give them the medication, they sit and talk with them and do activities with them if they are able to.”
Abbie’s dad Mark, 40, said: “Abbie’s nan was diagnosed for quite some time and had been helped by Trinity.
“Towards the end of her time she and the hospice nurses had built a nice relationship up.
“On the day she sadly passed away the nurses came to see us and attended the funeral. We feel, and her nan felt, that she had made some great friends and had bonded with the nurses.”
He added: “I didn’t know when the girls asked me to take them to Trinity Hospice if it was £4 or £40 they had raised.
“The news is often gloomy nowadays so it puts a smile on your face. “Vicky, a legal secretary, said: “Elouise couldn’t believe it when I told her how much they had raised. She thinks it’s absolutely amazing.
“Their letter was a letter of apology because they had only raised £4, so we can’t believe it that so much has been raised.”
The hospice’s outgoing medical director, Dr Susan Salt, who is leaving later this month to train as a priest, said: “The first we heard was that the letter had gone viral, and we heard about these lovely two young ladies who had tried their best to raise money for us, and had written a beautiful letter.
“It has really shown us how much support there is out there for everything we do.”
Trinity’s clinical director, Nicky Parkes, said: “What these two young girls have achieved is truly incredible. They really are the talk of the hospice this week, and everyone is so touched by what they have done.
“Every single penny we receive means so much to us and our patients – it means we can be there for everyone who calls on us for help across the Fylde coast. But for the community to have got behind these amazing girls and turned their £4 into so much more is just heart-warming.
“We can’t wait to welcome them in and show them just what a difference they have made. Very well done to them both, and to their families who much be so incredibly proud.”
Carina Walker, manager of the Trinity Hospice Shop in Bispham where the note and money were handed in, said: “When I received the girls’ donation and their letter it bought a tear to my eye. What these girls have done, completely on their own, shows sincere kindness, thoughtfulness and true compassion for the hospice and its patients.
“I just knew I had to find these girls so we could say a proper thank you.
“They have done so well, and I know everyone at the hospice – both staff and patients – is so proud of them.”
Kieran Drinkwater, 31, a civil servant who used to live on Westmoreland Avenue, Blackpool, but now lives in Northern Ireland, set up the online fundraiser to help Abbie and Elouise after hearing their story.
He said: “Carina at the hospice posted the letter on a local Blackpool page and it was shared by a couple of my friends, and when I saw it it was really heartwarming and really touching and it struck a chord with me.
“On the back of that I decided that I wanted to do something.
“It was an incredible gesture and I wanted to help them out. “
You can find the fundraiser online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Kieran-Drinkwater or by clicking here