Ten years on for fledgling Wealden group

editorial image

Members of an East Sussex group that has raised more than £137,000 towards the fight against cancer are celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Cuckoo for Cancer - previously known as the Heathfield and Horam Group of Friends for Cancer Research UK - has come a long way since the first coffee morning that led to the foundation of the fledgling fundraising group. Over the last ten years the 12 members have organised rock festivals, open gardens, quizzes, a fun run and dance to raise money for Cancer Research UK, the country’s single largest funder of cancer research.

Fundraising first began in 2000 when Dorrie Ostle, from Horam, hosted coffee mornings in memory of her daughter Jenny, who died the previous year.

Cuckoo for Cancer member Sue Mosey said: “Jenny was a special person who touched many people’s hearts. She was also a good friend of mine and when her mum felt it was getting too much for her to organise I offered to take it over with the help of another friend, Daphne Symonds. The group formally started in 2004 and we called ourselves the Heathfield and Horam Group of Friends for Cancer Research UK, not a name that easily tripped off the tongue, and initially we kept to the same coffee morning format.”

Sue also had a personal reason to become involved as her husband, Graham, had been diagnosed with cancer. At the time the couple owned the Hidden Spring Vineyard at Horam and they decided to take a giant leap from coffee mornings to a rock festival and in 2006 staged Vibes from the Vines at the vineyard. Following the success of the inaugural event the group began organising an annual large-scale fundraiser.

“We had a barn dance in 2007, a fun run and dance in 2008 and another rock festival in 2009,” said Sue. “Since then we have scaled down events to leave ourselves less financially vulnerable and we have also changed the name of the group to the more concise Cuckoo for Cancer. We still hold at least one musical event a year and help with the food for the Heathfield Show sponsors’ marquee, the Arlington Bluebell and Farm Walk as well as run quizzes and open gardens.” So far the group, whose motto is ‘having fun as we fundraise’, has raised £137,544 for Cancer Research UK.

Sue said: “We each have our own reasons to support the charity, some of us have had cancer ourselves, others know someone who has coped with this disease. We know that improvements in treatment are happening all the time and we are proud to say we are helping, in a small way, to make these changes possible.”