Redhill and Reigate fundraisers stunned at money raised after pop star helps out

Two East Surrey fundraisers who decided to hold a coffee morning to support a cancer charity ended up bringing in £10,000 after it ballooned into a huge event.

Abby Garner from Redhill and Linda Arnould from Reigate led a group of friends who hoped to raise a few hundred pounds at most when they agreed to host a small event in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care.

But the fundraiser took on a life of its own after the friends asked Bunn Leisure Holiday Park at Selsey, West Sussex, where they all own caravans, whether they could use a few tables at one its entertainment venues to host the event.

Staff at the park offered their support and helped spread the word among owners and holidaymakers.

And with pop star Billy Ocean, who was performing at the park, lending his support by posing for photos and offering a signed shirt for auction, things really started to take off.

Male caravan owners, led by Chris Russell, arranged to dress as ladies to collect money and got themselves sponsored to push a “Cinder-fella” on a bed on wheels through Bunn Leisure’s three holiday villages.

Local businesses contributed to raffle prizes worth a total of £3,000, and on the day supporters turned up in droves at the park’s Solent View lounge bar.

When the cash was counted, the team of friends were stunned to find they had raised more than £10,000 for the charity – with more still coming in.

Abby, who owns a caravan at Bunn Leisure, said: “I had a vision that we’d get maybe 30 or 40 people and raise a couple of hundred pounds. I thought if a few of us got together we could do our little bit.

She said: “We decided that rather than have it at someone’s house, we needed a venue, so I asked Bunn Leisure whether we could have a corner of their Solent View bar. “They said yes straight away and from that moment it exploded.”

She continued: “The staff got involved and we decided to open it up to more people. They put posters up and told all the caravan owners about it and put it on Bunn Leisure’s Facebook page. “As word spread, it just grew and grew and grew.”

She said: “We were selling raffle tickets at the park when Billy Ocean was there. He had his photo taken with us in our Macmillan shirts and donated signed albums.

“We had raised about £5,000 before the doors even opened thanks to the raffle tickets and sponsorship for the bed push. “And on the day we raised that much again.”

She said: “We were stunned that from such a small beginning we had raised so much. I would like to thank each and every person who did something to make this happen.”

John Bunn, managing director of Bunn Leisure Holiday Park, said: “Abby owns a caravan here on the park and is a regular visitor, and when she asked for help, we were all too pleased to do everything we could to help her raise money for this worthy cause.

“I’m delighted the team have raised so much and pleased that we were able to support those who put so much energy and effort into this extraordinary fundraiser.”

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