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Life Chez Dee Episode #19: Support Small

I’ve just read a very sad post on social media about a lovely lady who ran a lovely little teashop locally here in St Anne’s, who has had to close. Too many other cafés; too many people going to the big chains supporting them rather than the small independents. I actually gave this gorgeous little teashop, known as Alice’s Tearooms, a mention in my “Tea” blog fairly recently. I cannot imagine how heartbroken this business owner is, having put her heart and soul into turning her vision into a reality, and having all this destroyed by lack of support locally; and I’m sorry for the town too, because we’re now one less lovely little independent cafe.

It’s so sad; yet people are still supporting the big boys. Supporting your supermarket café, or supporting the big chains will not keep lovely little independent shops and cafes in the high street. They really need your support. Yes if you want to go to the big organisations once in a while, fine; but don’t be going on a regular basis to meet with friends. Meet at a local café; chat to the owners who are, believe me, extremely grateful for your business, and often support you in other ways, as you chat about things, stuff, life. And they’re lovely people, get to know them; it’s personal.

Giving small shops and businesses your custom means that they can save up for that holiday, pay for their kids football or dance lessons; rather than lining the pockets of the directors and shareholders of massive companies.

And to be honest it’s not just shops and cafes who need your support. It also brings me on to something far closer to home and far more personal. I set up The Edward Dee Fund as a small charity after the death of my child. I know this is a journey for me; I am still coping with the grief, the loss and the trauma of losing Edward, and yet I have a calling; a drive to do … something … for my child … for me …. for others; a drive and determination to get the word out there so that another family doesn’t have to go through what we did. I work tirelessly to raise awareness, even having to give up a part time job as the charity work I was doing was more than a full time job, and I really couldn’t juggle part time work too.

I have been supported by many, many businesses with my fundraising efforts, all happy to support a local family and a local charity, by providing raffle prizes time and again, taking a collection box, putting out leaflets and posters; and I’m always more than grateful for your support.

I have also been supported on an even bigger scale by several companies since founding The Edward Dee Fund; support which has been given to me personally. As I didn’t have an income, there were some really lovely people who came into my life and offered to support me financially to do the work I do. Stephen Beverley of Windmill Financial Services was the first person who put his trust and faith in me; followed shortly after by Sarah Crowther of Holistic and Beautiful Candles; Dawn Attewell of Therapy House; David Cox of Cox Motor Group; and Shannon Kuspira of Bite Club. All knew how much I was throwing into this charity; all knew, understood and valued the work I was doing.

Some of those businesses have been unable to continue their sponsorship, but continue to support myself and the charity in other ways still; but two of those businesses continue to support me financially. Stephen Beverley, Windmill Financial Services, and Cox Motor Group have continued their support. I have told them many times how grateful I am, but I will say it time and again … I will never forget the help and support you have given me, and will be forever grateful to you. Not only because of the financial help you have offered, but because you listened, you understood what I was trying to achieve, you put your faith and trust in me and believed in me, and I will carry on all the good work I’m doing to make you proud to support me. You have made such a difference to the lives of so many people by allowing me to raise awareness, fund research projects and do so much in the community; but you have made a massive difference to my life, more than you will ever know.

It hasn’t been easy setting up a charity, and running a charity pretty much single handed, whilst juggling being a busy mum, and still continuing to deal with my own grief.

And here again I go back to the point of supporting small and supporting local. The charity doesn’t have paid employees; we don’t have someone in marketing; design; accounts; admin or armies of volunteers – there’s me, and my husband when he’s finished his day’s work, and is indeed even at home rather than away on business. That’s it. So thank you to those who helped design my leaflets; to Debbie Redman who designs my posters; to Tim Igoe who has designed, maintains and hosts the Stones for Edward website; to Dickon who helps enormously in so many ways from running errands, sorting out merchandise, making flags Blue Peter style and then shouting about how wonderful it all is as soon as he gets on the PA system. There are lots of people I ask to help, there are people who offer help at big events, or sporadically for odd jobs, and it’s more than appreciated because day to day it’s pretty much me doing everything else.

I make a lot of noise, but often it’s not enough. Social media is a busy place, and sometimes it’s hard to be seen, noticed, and heard.

Sharing things, talking about the charity, telling your friends, nominating for awards and pats on the back, suggesting to the big company you work for, getting your school involved with an awareness day, thinking about doing a coffee morning, wearing a vest for the charity if you’re doing a running race …… all these things are so important and are of enormous help; and I thank each and every one of you who does this, yet reiterate that so many more could help, if only by suggesting me and talking about me. I will always do what I do, and there is no doubt about it, I couldn’t have achieved all I have without the support of so many.

So my plea is for continued help and support, talking about me and getting the name of the charity out there, turning up to events, donating, sponsoring. So many people doing what they can even if it’s the smallest amount to help, because lots of people doing many things to support, has a big impact.

So I leave you with this thought, please support small businesses, small ventures, small charities; because from these small beginnings, bigger things grow, and greater things happen; and you can help make it so.

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