Cashing In For 60th

HELPING children is second nature to Ann Hawkins of Belloc Road, Wick.

She has been a lollipop lady for 27 years, as well as being a child-minder and Beaver leader, and loving grandmother.

So it came as no surprise to her friends and relatives when she asked them to make donations to the Chestnut Tree House Appeal to build a children's hospice, instead of giving presents for her 60th birthday.

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And Ann was delighted with her 80 generous party guests, who boosted the appeal by 521.

"I hadn't had time to open my cards during the day, and when I did in the evening, I couldn't believe how much money there was it just kept coming and coming," she enthused.

She particularly wanted her friends to donate to a charity which helped children: "The new hospice is going to be wonderful. I was so pleased when I first heard it was going to be built. Judging by the progress they have made so far, I don't think anyone could have done a better job," she added.

Fundraisers have 1.3 million left to raise in order to complete building work on the fabulous children's hospice near Angmering that's about a quarter of their 5 million target.

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And, judging by the level of support for the project, fundraising co-ordinator Paul Morris and the team are confident this will happen.

He thanked Ann for her selfless efforts and paid tribute to her, and the many other people whose donations continue to flood in.

"We really appreciate Ann's kind gift. Since I arrived here two months ago, I have been staggered by the warmth and generosity of the local supporters.

"I think the future of the children's hospice is in good hands, thanks to their continued support."

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Both current and former pupils of Flora McDonald and Wickbourne Infant Schools will know Ann as the chirpy lollipop lady in Wick Street, where she has patrolled for 17 years, after spending 10 years round the corner in Courtwick Road.

And she also enjoyed a few years as a leader for 5th Littlehampton Beavers, and spent eight years as a child minder.

Her husband Stan has been a volunteer in the St Barnabas' charity shop in Wick Street for three years.

He was thrilled with Ann's decision to invite donations: "When she told me, I thought it was a marvellous idea," he said.

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Building work is well underway at Chestnut Tree House, set in four acres of land donated by Lady Sarah Clutton.

Children at the hospice will enjoy the best facilities and round-the-clock care from a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, and Chestnut Tree House should be providing respite care on a non-residential basis as soon as summer, 2003.

And if everything goes to plan, children will be able to stay at the hospice from the following October.

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