Willow blog

Willow Marks Fifteen Special Years

December 12, 2014

Willow marked fifteen years of delivering Special Days to seriously ill young adults in the company of local dignitaries and good friends, old and new, on the evening of Friday 5th December. The evening was hosted by The Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury in the grand, historic Hatfield House. Willow Co-founders and Life Presidents Megs and Bob Wilson and the Willow team thanked supporters personally for helping the charity achieve so much since it was founded in 1999.

More than 70 loyal supporters, including the charity’s original trustees and staff, donors, fundraisers and the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Fergus McMullen enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies in the grand Marble Hall, which has hosted royal banquets, state dinners and private audiences.

Lord Salisbury welcomed guests, saying: “As close neighbours, we have been aware of Willow’s work for many years. The difference the charity makes to so many young lives is outstanding. Learning of the many heartfelt Special Days organised by Willow is inspiring and to meet you, the people that make it happen, is humbling. There can be no greater pleasure than to open one’s home to those who understand, at the most difficult of times, the importance of family and friends.”

In the past year alone, Willow will have arranged 980 Special Days for young adults diagnosed with a life-threatening condition and more than 10,800 Special Days since the charity was founded by Megs and Bob, in a small back bedroom from their home in Brookmans Park, as a lasting memorial to their daughter, Anna who died of cancer aged 31.

Megs said: “Many of our first trustees, volunteers and staff are here this evening and it makes me smile to think not only of those early days but also what the charity has gone on to achieve. Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought that Anna’s legacy would go on to make such a real and positive difference to so many young lives. Thank you to all of you who have been with us on this journey. 

“You must know that Willow would not be where it is today without your support and enthusiasm. We are extremely lucky to have such wonderful and enthusiastic supporters who, year on year, throw themselves into events, corporate partnerships and volunteering as well as all manner of challenges and activities. You, not Willow, make Special Days possible and on behalf of every young person who has and will benefit from your support, thank you.”

Willow beneficiary Jackie Scully and her parents, Ann and Eamonn, also attended. Jackie had her Special Day after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she said: “Cancer forced me to recognise that I was so busy trying to live my life, I’d forgotten what it was to enjoy it. That’s why, on May 23, my fiancée and I stepped onto the Orient Express for a day touring the English countryside. This is one journey we will never forget. This one day showed me just how important it is to make every day count. Since that moment, we have made the most of our time together.

“Willow changes lives, not just days. 2014 wasn’t the year that tried to take my life away. It was the year, thanks to Willow, that I got my life back.”

View the photographs