Newsletter No. 1 – May 2016

Since last year a lot has been going on with Allegra’s Ambition & we thought we should summarise it all together in a “newsletter”. We have sent it to as many people we could think of who have supported us this last year, but are bound to have made some omissions – so please feel free to forward it on to anyone who is interested. We do have a website www.allegrasambition.org.uk which we keep reasonably up to date – we also post much more regularly on Facebook & Instagram. If you are not on social media you can view these posts via the Allegra’s Ambition website (on the pages behind the Home screen e.g. if you go into the ‘CONTACT’ tab.)

Since the New Forest Marathon & the many other walks & runs that happened on the 13 September 2015, so many people have taken on incredible challenges & raised money, as well as love, for Allegra’s Ambition. Allegra would love them all & they are a very touching way of expressing the gap her loss has left in our lives – we cannot ever thank everyone enough but

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH AGAIN.

The one thing we have learnt is that it is not true that there is nothing anyone can do – everything, however small really makes such a difference. Many people, as you can see below, have made big efforts and made a big difference – in the example they have set and the funds they have raised. They have been amazing – we are deeply moved and grateful.

We are sending you this “newsletter” to let you know:

  • For Allegra: What people have done/plan to do soon
  • From Allegra: What gifts have been made to date.

For Allegra: What people have done/plan to do soon

Soon after the New Forest Marathon last year several families took part in The Gower Triathlon in Wales. This is an Olympic distance event set in the stunning location of Port Eynon. The main event involves a 1,500m Swim, a 37k Bike course and a 10k Run. There is also a sprint event. The team wore bright pink t-shirts raising awareness for Allegra’s Ambition & Josie Smailes raised £1,358 and James Turner raised £1,205.

 1  2

In January, Hayley Gaj, who was a housemistress & PE teacher at St Swithun’s School set herself the challenge of climbing to the Base Camp of Everest unaided. She took with her some Pink Prayer flags that had been signed by many of Allegra’s friends & family. She posted some amazing photos of her journey on which she was accompanied by Philemon, one of Allegra’s favourite teddies – he had quite an adventure. Having reached Base Camp, Hayley went on to summit Kala Pattar at 5,545m. Philemon tied a single pink shoelace to the prayer flags on the summit. En-route they stopped at the graves of Scott Fischer and other souls who have lost their lives on the mountain. Hayley’s climb was entirely self-funded and she raised £1,951 for Allegra’s Ambition. In addition, Hayley took with her some donations from girls at St Swithun’s & from Allegra’s Ambition of hats, gloves, blankets, sports equipment, water purifying tablets, candles & work gloves to distribute to some of the victims of the Nepal earthquake last year.

Also in January, Julie Montagu, a celebrated yoga teacher & cookery writer (but most importantly mother of one of Allegra’s best friends, Emma), led a Flow in the Dark Yoga evening in aid of Allegra’s Ambition. 80 yogis attended an evening organised by The Well Scene and, with the raffle and donations from tickets, Julie raised a total of £575. Julie has also dedicated her latest book Eat Real Food to Allegra.

In March, George Garnett, an old Pilgrim’s school friend of Vere’s ran the Liverpool Half Marathon raising £2,830. Suz Crichton-Stuart, who lays claim to the infamy of being the first person to canter with Allegra on Twinkles, was inspired to run her first (Surrey) Half Marathon raising £570. Just last w/e Allegra’s cousin Charlie Brooksbank did a 12 mile Tough Mudder dressed in a bright pink morph suit – we are looking forward to the photos…. He has raised £1,540. A schoolfriend of Honor’s, Clemmie Rydon, chose to ask for donations to Allegra’s Ambition in lieu of birthday presents to raising £330. And a young boy called Barnaby Grant, who is in Year 3 & never met Allegra, organised a cake sale for Allegra’s Ambition

 3  4

The boys of JDN, Vere & Luke’s house at school ran the Eton College steeplechase (between 3 & 7.5 miles) blazoned in pink T shirts, raising £3,175. Forty boys ran – practically the whole house excluding those who were injured or away. This is a great example of the resolute support that they have given to Vere and Luke since they lost their sister – the strong turnout of friends from JDN for the New Forest Marathon event is another.

In terms of sheer numbers, the greatest support for Allegra’s New Forest Run came from her school, St Swithun’s – the girls, the teachers, the parents – everyone. Since then, St Swithuns have continued to think of Allegra and support her charity. We were recently invited to speak to the whole school to update them on our progress and the school made Allegra’s Ambition one of their chosen charities for the year. So far they have raised £1,300 from a quiz night, advent service collection & cake sales. A number of her friends have also expressed interest in being further involved in the charity which we are very enthusiastic about.

Sport Hampshire generously selected Allegra’s Ambition as their nominated charity at their Annual Awards evening in March. Shoonagh & Dominic Hubble kindly agreed to speak on our behalf & raised £928.

In 2013, Allegra donated several inches of her hair to an incredible charity called www.littleprincesses.org.uk/ which makes real hair wigs for free for sick children. A number of Allegra’s friends have followed suite, including Lucy & Alex Kellock who also raised £863 sponsorship for Allegra’s Ambition.

Looking ahead the plans & ideas keep coming:

Amanda Howard, Allegra’s indomitable godmother, has managed to inspire a team of six to take part in the Caledonian Challenge in June, a 24 mile extreme trek across the Scottish Highlands http://www.caledonianchallenge.com/. You can support Amanda by clicking this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Amanda-Howard4.

Emilie Janssen plans to climb Mt Kilimanjaro this summer: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/emiliejanssen2

Georgia Sugden, who played lacrosse with Allegra at school, & is now at university is gathering a team to take part in a Tough Mudder in September https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/10friends

Aggie Roberts West & Maddie Boissier are organising a “Dance for Leggy” for Year 8s in June. Also on 25 May Fitique Alresford are holding an evening with The Performance Chef. All ticket sales proceeds will go to Allegra’s Ambition.

The HH Pony Club have kindly made Allegra’s Ambition their charity for the year & will be fundraising at their ball on Saturday 28 May. TO BUY TICKETS @ £65 per person contact catherinerussell25@yahoo.com or hhponyclub.dc@gmail.com

 5  6

From Allegra: What gifts have been made to date

Over the last few months, we have spent time meeting people who run other charities whose objectives have parallels with Allegra’s Ambition

We would really like you to be involved in the charity – who better understands what Allegra would think is right than people who loved her, her friends – or people who just believe in the way she lived her life.

So far we have done a few relatively small things. We have bought football shirts & goals for the slum in Haruma, Nairobi, Kenya where the charity EdClub (www.edclubmovement.org) operates. We also donated some items for Hayley Gaj, Allegra’s former teacher, for her trip to Nepal to give to victims of last year’s earthquake. In addition, we are forming a partnership with the Ebony Horse Club based in Brixton.

Although the donations are small in size, they have had a big impact. The children in Haruma come from very poor families – the football shirts and goals were the present these children most wanted for Christmas. When they received them, they were so happy and surprised that they called a meeting of the whole community (about 300 people came) where they had speeches, prayers and hymns of thanks to God. They then played 3 football matches, one after the other, to celebrate – where each of the two teams for each match, used the same shirts – one after another!

This gift passed the Allegra test – Allegra had been to Haruma and cared about the children. The gift made a difference and is part of a greater story of support started by Allegra’s godmother, Alice Macaire, when the community were about to be evicted from their homes and continuing with initiatives like the EdClub project founded by the Macaires. Allegra had given a presentation at St Swithuns about EdClub the week before she died and now 30+ girls at St Swithuns are involved in the charity. No money was wasted – no administration fees or marketing costs – every single pound went to buy goal posts and shirts. When you think about all this, suddenly it is not so small at all – not for these children.

7 8

More recently we have begun a partnership with the Ebony Horse Club (www.ebonyhorseclub.org.uk). The Ebony riding school is in the middle of Brixton surrounded by some of the most deprived areas in South London. It works with the local schools and council to target the young people who most need help. It starts with riding lessons and caring for the horses but it offers much more than that. It aims to improve their lives – with remarkable results. Ebony is very keen to organise events outside London (for most of the children, they have no other opportunity to get out).

The idea of organising a local event for Ebony children was warmly and enthusiastically shared by the Hampshire Hunt Pony Club. As a result, funded by Allegra’s Ambition and relying on the kindhearted offers of the venue and pony loans by HH families, we plan to host a day on 22 July for up to 30 children to come for a country riding expedition to Herriard Park. It will be a day to celebrate & remember Allegra as well.

We have also agreed to fund the cost of creating a paddock from a small part of the park next to the riding school which has been offered by Lambeth Council. The purpose is for the horses to have somewhere to graze when they are not working. Ebony’s horses have NO other grazing – only a woodchip paddock. This will not only improve the horses’ quality of life but it will extend their useful working life and it will also allow people using the park to see horses in a more natural environment. It is to be called Allegra’s Paddock & we hope to invite HH Pony Club members & anyone else interested to come to its opening later in the summer so that they can also see the incredible work that Ebony does in the Brixton community.

Early days but a lot has gone on already as you can see – We are so grateful to you all for your support & love.

THANK YOU.

#forallegra