26 people attended a private lunch event at Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice on Friday 28 April, hosted by the Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Giles York. Guests included Deputy Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Maureen Marsh; Chief Executive of West Sussex County Council, Nathan Elvey; Chief Fire Officer of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Dawn Whittaker; Deputy and Assistant Chief Fire Officers of West Sussex Gavin Watts and Neil Stocker as well as officers and staff from Sussex Police and Chestnut Tree House.
Giles York and Chief Officer colleagues took part in Chestnut Tree House’s ‘Get Festive’ campaign in December, wearing Santa suits to help serve Christmas dinner in the staff restaurant, and at the end of 2016 the Chief Constable officially announced that he had chosen Chestnut Tree House as his Charity of the Year for 2017.
Since then Giles York has given his team at Malling House – the headquarters of Sussex Police in Lewes – a list of different ways in which they can get involved with the charity, from ‘Get Festive’ and ‘Bag it and Give’ to volunteering days and events. Most recently Sussex Police devised an April Fool’s Day prank, with a news story that Chief Constable Giles York was in training for the World Conker Championships – the reveal was another way to spread the word about Chestnut Tree House and talk about it as their Charity of the Year.
After Giles York welcomed guests and talked about why he is supporting the charity, Hugh Lowson, Chief Executive of Chestnut Tree House thanked Giles for his support.
Hugh Lowson said, “We are very grateful that Chief Constable Giles York has chosen Chestnut Tree House as his Charity of the Year. It costs over £3.5 million each year to offer all of our care services and less than 7% of this comes from central government. Without the support of individuals and organisations in the local area it would not be possible for us to continue to provide the specialist care services that help so many children and families.”
Linda Perry, Director of Children’s Services then spoke to give an introduction to Chestnut Tree House and outline some of the challenges the charity faces going forward. Linda also invited guests to attend a tour of the house with some of the fundraising team.
Chief Constable Giles York said, “I am delighted to be supporting Chestnut Tree House and hope to be able to raise funds and increase awareness for the charity throughout 2017. The work that they do – at the hospice itself and in the community across East and West Sussex – helps 300 local children and families, and really makes a difference to so many people’s lives. We’re looking forward to throwing ourselves into fundraising this year!”
Chestnut Tree House provides care and support to around 300 children with life-shortening conditions and their families across Sussex. The cost of providing this vital service is over £3.5 million per year, yet the hospice receives less than 7% central government funding so relies heavily on the support of individuals and the local business community to continue providing vital care to local children and families.