Community spirit demonstrated at fête for mum Mandi

A community came together in aid of a mum who has Motor Neuron Disease (MND) and the charity which supports her and her family.

Saturday, 16th June 2018, 1:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th June 2018, 6:18 pm
Enjoying the sunshine

The fundraiser, held on June 3, aimed to raise awareness of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and all the charity does to help those who are afflicted with this disease.

Chilgrove based Mandi Simpson is the beloved wife and mother of two young children (six year old Ruari and eight year old Niamh) at the centre of this fundraiser. Three years ago, Mandy was an avid skier, walker, and actively engaged in outdoor pursuits with her family. In 2015, Mandi went to the doctor thinking she had sprained her ankle and by January 2016 she had been diagnosed with MND. Now she uses a specially adapted wheelchair. Just recently the disease progressed further and Mandy has now lost the power of even her hands, which means she can no longer operate her motorised chair. Whilst maintaining full-time employment, Mandi’s husband, David, is not only a hands-on father, cook and carer, but, as the illness progresses, is also physically doing all that is necessary to continuously adapt their home to one more suitable for Mandi’s needs. The MND Association has been of incredible support to this family.

“Is community spirit still alive? Ask Mandi whose aunt, in conversation, relayed the story of her niece to a small group of friends who came up with the idea of holding a craft fair in the village hall selling cream teas, handcrafted gifts and jewellery,” explained Dr Sharon-Michi Kusunoki, an event volunteer. The fundraiser also featured stalls, a tombola and a raffle.

Mandi and her family

Sharon continued: “Mandi is lucky to be surrounded by a supportive family, although it is sometimes difficult to explain to young children why Mummy is unable to wrap them in a warm embrace, or why she sits in the chair all day and cannot get out to help Daddy. This is a difficult situation for anyone to bear, much less a child.

“At the fundraising event, we raised almost three times the projected amount and it was a lovely atmosphere all around. The value of community is so important today, especially when such a role is oftentimes overlooked and eradicated by the pressures of bureaucracy and two-tier systems. We are all thankful to everyone who helped and also to Mandi for showing us what can be achieved if we look outside of ourselves to work together for the good of others.

“This event was subsidised by a raffle with amazing prizes generously donated by some of the local businesses. A group of villagers knitted small colourful squares which were made into beautiful patchwork bears, people, not only from Chichester, Bognor Regis and our local villages, but also from Angmering, Farnborough and Portslade, donated cakes, plants, jams, and came to work on the stalls for a family they did not know personally, but about whom they cared. The cream tea was a huge success, and all of the cakes, so lovingly made, were sold, and there was a constant stream of people despite two other major events going on in the vicinity.

“People were actually speaking to each other without a mobile phone in sight. Even the headtacher of West Dean School stopped in and ended up helping to blow up balloons and to lend a hand wherever necessary. So too, did one of the governors of Singleton Primary School who was on her feet all day not only providing lovely baked goods, but bringing and managing the stall selling kitchenware. There were also numerous others who did not necessarily know one another, but stepped in to help and worked tirelessly to ensure that the event would be a success.”

Picking up some raffle tickets
The community came together in support of Mandi and the MND Association
Indoor activties at the fête
A plant stall at the fundraising event
One of the patchwork bears created from squares knitted by local villagers and sewn together by Vivian Mills. The baby with the bear is Ivy Odin, who is a little over 4 months old
One of the stalls at the fundraising event