Volunteer Chair Mary retires from Dame Hannahs


Mary Watts is stepping down as Chair of Dame Hannahs Ivybridge Supporter Group after 11 years. She has been an important member of the Dame Hannahs family since she first became involved in fundraising over thirty years ago.

However Mary’s original link with the Trust was many years earlier when in 1945 as a little girl she was diagnosed with Polio and spent six months being cared for by the Dame Hannahs staff. Mary has been involved in raising thousands of pounds for Dame Hannahs through a variety of events and personal networking and has watched the Trust develop over the years and seen so many young people with disabilities grow up to lead busy and fulfilled lives.

Mary reflects on her time with Dame Hannahs and recalls some of the highlights:
“It was in 1990 whilst attending a Dame Hannahs Summer Fayre that I was asked to join the Fundraising Committee by the Chair and Headmaster Bill Evans. There was a great Committee full of energy and ideas. I was grateful that with my family connections to the Devon County Agricultural Show we were able to assist in Dame Hannahs being chosen as the Charity for 1995 and helped raise nearly £6,000 running a Cow Pat Competition at the show.
Unfortunately during the 1990’s undiagnosed Post-Polio Syndrome PPS ongoing from my childhood Polio prevented me from being involved in fundraising activities for a few years but in 2003 I was thrilled to be asked to sponsor the Dame Hannahs Cookbook which helped raise some funds. In 2007 I was invited to join the Supporters Group and I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity of working with our awesome Ivybridge Supporters along with some very talented, enthusiastic and inspiring Fundraising Managers and their dedicated teams.
When Anne Jenkins retired as Chair in June 2010 she urged me to take up the baton. I did so but with much trepidation and was initially elected as Chair for one year. It has been my awesome pleasure and humble honour to fly the flag for our wonderful local charity - the Dame Hannah Rogers Trust! The joyful excitement, the challenge and encouragement of knowing you’re making a difference in raising significant awareness through a variety of wonderful fundraising events including fashion shows, race evenings, antiques valuations, autumn lunches as well as manning stalls at the Kingsbridge and Yealmpton Agricultural shows, the Spirit Draw at numerous Dame Hannahs Christmas Fayres and stewarding at the Plymouth Santa Fun Run.
Amazingly after several years of nominations Dame Hannahs was chosen once again to be Devon County Show Charity in 2018. This was a great platform for raising awareness of the charity and opened up some excellent opportunities. We were given a stand in the Garden Crafts Marquee which was a great success winning a Bronze Medal, all thanks to our amazing supporters for their dedication and expertise in setting up the stand. It was also a huge privilege and challenge to seek and inspire more people, engaging with organisations such as Ivybridge & Devon Young Farmers and arranging for new supporters to visit Dame Hannahs and see first-hand the wonderful work of our charity.
A special memory of my time with Dame Hannahs was the visit of Bishop Nick that coincided with one of our young people Dan Bradbury’s birthday. It was a joy to witness his interactions with the young adults and as always Dan’s excitement and enthusiasm! There were also two very unexpected and awesome occasions when I had the privilege of being invited to a Reception given by Samantha Cameron at No 10 Downing Street in 2012 and to The Queen’s Garden Party in 2016 during her 90th year!
It has been an absolute joy to have shared this humble role with our awesome Dame Hannahs Ivybridge Supporters who have given their all in every way possible. I am so thankful to all the members of our amazing dedicated group for their endless support to me and long standing endeavours for the charity. Standing down as Chair was tough but our very special young people and wider Dame Hannahs family deserve a new person with fresh enthusiastic ideas to help raise awareness and fundraise for our remarkable extraordinary charity. The time is right for a new fresh look at the way our group embraces the challenge of fundraising and raising awareness and moving on from the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic to promote the wonderful work of our charity. My heartfelt thanks to all the Dame Hannahs family for their ongoing endeavours and to those very special young adults that Dame Hannahs has the privilege of empowering, inspiring, caring for, encouraging and supporting. Dame Hannahs will always be in my heart and mind until my dying days and of course I shall continue to give my support in every possible way to all our Dame Hannahs family”.

Dame Hannahs Head of Fundraising Daniel Burke said “In the ten years I have been with Dame Hannahs it has been an absolute privilege to fundraise and raise the profile of Dame Hannahs alongside Mary and the Ivybridge Supporter Group. Mary has led the group with such commitment, dedication and enthusiasm. Dame Hannahs could never have progressed in many ways without Mary leading the charge in her endeavours. She has been a force of nature and one we will certainly miss. As well as everything which Mary has done and achieved I feel more blessed to have gained such a great friend in the process. Now Mary has decided to take a step back, everyone at Dame Hannahs wishes her a very happy retirement but the door is always open as she will forever be a member of the Dame Hannahs family”.