Earlier this month, on the 5th of December, the 25th edition of the Victorian-themed Whalley Pickwick Festival was held. This year some of the festival’s activities such as live pipe and brass music, children’s entertainment and a giant’s ferris wheel could not be set up as planned due to the severe weather conditions. Nevertheless, most fundraising activities at the festival were successful and well-supported by all visitors.
Optima got involved in one such activity – a charity stall selling delicious goulash and small traditional Christmas Gifts. The stall’s organiser, HCPT Group 72, aimed to attract funding for a week’s holiday at Easter time for a group of disabled and disadvantaged children.
(Above: The team of volunteers at the HCPT stall before and after the festival opened)
HCPT provides respite holidays for these children to the pilgrimage site of Lourdes. Group 72 is a Blackburn-based charity and joins with the hundreds of other groups from all over the world to meet up at Easter. The group takes around 12 children from the local area each year but over 1,300 children in total make the trip to Lourdes from all groups worldwide. Dr Michael Strode first took 5 wheelchair-bound boys to Lourdes back in 1954 – he wanted to give them a happy fun filled holiday. They stayed in Hotel accommodation, rather than in the institutional hospital dormitories. All of the religious aspects of Lourdes were experienced along with a trip to the PyreneanMountains to create for these children a unique experience where faith, great care and a foreign holiday all came together.
(Left: Optima’s Mark Lane preparing surprises for the stall’s visitors)
At the Whalley Pickwick Festival, Optima supported HCPT’s stall in two ways. The company covered the cost of the beef used to prepare the tasty goulash. More important, however, was the wholehearted involvement of Optima’s sales engineer – Mark Lane. Mark, along with his merry group of volunteers helped the stall to sell out and raise more than £300. Mark explained that the activity‘s success exceeded his expectations, given the tough start on that day: “The day started badly with over 80mph gusts of wind threatening to close the event but it did eventually calm down just before we set the stall up. The evening was a great success, with over £300 raised for our charity. On behalf of HCPT, I would sincerely like to thank Optima for their support, family and friends who volunteered on the day and all the members of the general public who bought portions of our 100% British Beef Goulash on the night. We’ll be back again next year!”