£99,000 children’s charity bid to celebrate Dame Vera Lynn’s 99th birthday

The countdown has begun to forces’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn’s 99th birthday next year – with the launch of an appeal to raise £99,000 for her pioneering Sussex-based children’s charity.

For the past 15 years Dame Vera’s Children’s Charity which runs the School for Parents at Ingfield Manor School at Five Oaks has supported more than 600 children with cerebral palsy and their families.

This week, Dame Vera said: “My school means so much to so many children, please support the appeal.”

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And organisers revealed that the appeal is already supported by TV presenter Gaby Roslin, who will be visiting the school and meeting the children and their families.

The Vera 99 Appeal provides the opportunity for the wider community to get involved, make a donation and send Dame Vera a personal birthday message.

A special book containing the messages will be compiled and presented to her on the special day - March 20, 2016.

The charity supports children like Ruby, who was born prematurely and endured a number of serious setbacks resulting in a diagnosis of four limb cerebral palsy with additional disabilities including epilepsy.

Medical practitioners suggested Ruby would never be able to speak or walk however since attending Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity for three years and receiving the specialist one-to-one attention she needed, Ruby can now say lots of words and is able to stand and take steps.

Readers of this newspaper and its website are being urged by the charity to join in the birthday fun.

You can:

1 Sponsor one of our children, £10 a month will help pay for a session

2 Organise your own fundraising event such as a Christmas Mince Pie and Mulled Wine evening, quiz, dress down day or cake sale with your friends or colleagues

3 Sponsor a birthday balloon for £25 and add a message. The balloons will be on display at the charity’s spring ball at the Felbridge Hotel in East Grinstead on Saturday March 19 and afterwards at the School for Parents

4 Make a bid at our online auction of an original signed picture of Dame Vera Lynn by renowned artist Lindsey Bex

The charity has set up a dedicated Appeal page on Just Giving and donations can also be made via a text to donate. Anyone wishing to get involved, make a donation and send Dame Vera a Birthday message can also contact the fundraising team on 01403 780444 or email [email protected]

A fundraising thermometer will be in the school’s reception to chart the appeal’s progress and regular updates will be featured on the charity’s website and social media sites - as well as this website and its associated newspapers.

Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity provides an early intervention service for families of young children with cerebral palsy and other similar motor learning disabilities using Conductive Education, an holistic learning process that encourages the child through play to develop more typical posture, muscle tone and movement patterns and actively participate in solving the challenges of daily living.

Every family is offered a weekly three hour small group session of Conductive Education where children learn with and through their parents and with other children with similar needs and where the focus is on achieving success.

Appeal organisers said: “Our ethos of active learning through play addresses all aspects of the child’s development using fun activities, games, songs and stories to evoke the child’s interest and motivation and build their capacity to learn.

“The positive ‘can do’ attitude fostered in the groups encourages children to have a go at various activities and receive the appropriate help they need to enable them to succeed.

“The skilled team work to increase the child’s physical abilities and help with simple life skills such as active sitting, standing, stepping, walking and manipulation skills and the small groups facilitate time for each child to communicate and learn from others.

“Our emphasis is to provide effective support and advice to parents helping them actively participate with their child’s learning and development, understand and appreciate their child’s abilities and achievements and empowering them to make informed choices about their child’s future needs.

“All the services we offer are provided free of charge. We receive no statutory funding and rely entirely on the support of the community to raise the £480,000 needed this year to ensure that this vital and much needed service can continue.”