Mary has been a member of our Volunteer Fundraising team (now known as the Ivybridge Supporter Group) for nearly 30 years.
Mary first heard about Dame Hannahs when her sister in law Vivienne was working at Dame Hannahs in the 1960s. Then in 1986 she moved to Blachford Manor in Cornwood and discovered that it had been the home of Dame Hannah Rogers 200 years earlier. At the time of her move she got to know Frankie Woods, then Head of Fundraising at Dame Hannahs, who asked her if she would be interested in holding a fundraising event at Blachford. This was the start of her Dame Hannahs fundraising events. She started off with a coffee morning and then the event grew into the first ever Dame Hannahs Christmas Fayre. After a few years the Wests sold Blachford so the fayre moved to nearby Flete House for a couple of years before moving on to Kitley House Hotel.
Mary had helped at many fundraising events over the years but after her other sister in law Anne became chairman of the volunteer fundraising team she asked Mary to join. There have been many highlights for Mary – serving refreshments at many Christmas Fayres, selling cakes at the Kingsbridge and Yealmpton Shows and helping at the Autumn Lunches particularly those featuring Mary Berry and Anne Widdicombe. She remembers fondly alot of other events such as the Fashion Shows, Antiques Events and the Dame Hannahs Summer Fair running the ‘Worn but Wonderful’ clothes stall. She has also baked thousands of cakes for Dame Hannahs events over the years.
Mary has been married to Paul for 57 years and they have farmed throughout their married life. They met at a sheep shearing competition aged 16 and married at 19. They have three children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren. More recently they welcomed into their home a mother and son from Ukraine.
While they lived at Blachford Paul and Mary organised many fundraising events for both Dame Hannahs and other charities. They hosted the Cornwood Show, Classic Car rally and the launch of the Discovery vehicle as well as many church fundraising events, coffee mornings, jazz evenings and carol singing.
Mary said “I have really enjoyed being part of the Dame Hannahs family and getting to know many volunteers, staff and young adults over the years. Even though Dame Hannahs no longer care for the very young children, it’s wonderful to see the help and care they give to the young adults who live as independently as they can in the bungalows. When I first became a volunteer there was nowhere for these young people to go after leaving school and many ended up in institutions which were quite unsuitable for the needs of a teenager or young adult. It’s very rewarding raising funds for this very deserving charity as well as making great friends with all the other lovely volunteers”.
Dame Hannahs Head of Fundraising, Daniel Burke said “Mary has brought so much to Dame Hannahs over the years from the instigation of our Christmas Fayre prior to joining the fundraising team to organising numerous events as well as participation in more than I can mention. While I have only know Mary for ten years she has always been so helpful, reliable and approaches everything with a can do attitude and a smile on her face. Her commitment and enthusiasm in all she undertakes has been vital to all of the overall achievement of the group. From the start it has been clear that Mary has brought so many people into the fold of Dame Hannahs by either getting family or friends involved with volunteering at events or by spreading the word and getting us new long standing supporters. We can’t thank her enough for all her dedication and hard work. Being involved with the supporter group is one of my own personal highlights at Dame Hannahs and long may everything they do continue”.