Eight-hour relay at Braintree care homes unites community to raise over £1,000 for Covid relief in India

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Residents from two Braintree care homes took part in an eight-hour relay with children and churchgoers from the local community to raise over £1,000 for India as the country grapples with the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Residents from St Mary’s Court and The New Deanery, along with children from Scallywags Day Nursery and parishioners of St Mary’s church in Bocking, each took turns covering part of the care homes’ six-acre gardens, handing sanitised batons to each other to continue the event from 9am to 5pm. 

Jo Whitehouse, Activities Manager for Sonnet Care Homes, said: “I’m overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to take part and raise funds for India as it struggles with Covid-19, from a one-year-old child to a 106-year-old lady.  

“The relay was a massive success, with everyone being able to do their part, no matter how big or small, in collectively covering the extensive distance over eight hours.” 

Jo was inspired to help raise funds for India’s Covid-19 relief after watching the devastation on TV with her son, seeing it as an opportunity for St Mary’s Court and The New Deanery to get back into fundraising after being unable to do so because of social distancing restrictions over the past year.  

Jo got in touch with Reverend Rod Reid of St Mary’s Church and Scallywags Nursery, who immediately took interest in the idea, and set up a JustGiving page for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which represents 14 charities that quickly respond to overseas disasters. 

Jo designed flyers appealing for participants and donations that Reverend Rod and Scallywag Nursery helped distribute. Daniel Robinsons & Sons Funeral Directors then decided to take part through their connection with the church. 

Reverend Rod said: “It is through our shared sense of community and close working relationship with the care homes that Jo approached me about raising funds following the distressing and upsetting scenes of the Covid crisis in India. While many, many miles away, we still wanted to do something to help. 

“The idea of the continuous eight-hour relay came forward and seemed the perfect way to both raise money and awareness, but also to do so while following the Covid restrictions in place here at the time.” 

A number of care home residents including Margaret, aged 106, were able to take part in the event, with the steel batons ordered by Jo being sanitised between each pass, and the whole event taking place outdoors while maintaining safe social distancing. 

Simon Beresford, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at the DEC, said: “Having only just extended our Coronavirus Appeal to India, we’ve been overwhelmed already by the amazing generosity shown by the UK public towards suffering communities. 

“I want to say a heart-felt thank you to all who took part in the relay at St Mary’s Court and The New Deanery. What a great example of a community working together to make a difference. These funds, along with all the other donations we’ve received, mean our member charities on the ground in India can scale-up their response and provide more life-saving support and services.” 

Visit www.donation.dec.org.uk/coronavirus-appeal to donate to the DEC and www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sonnetcarehomes-stmaryschurch-dec-india to support Jo’s fundraiser. 

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