ONE of Woking & Sam Beare Hospices’ most devoted supporters, Tina Stephens, is about to bring to an end 13 years and £60,000 of fundraising.
Tina said: “I became involved with the hospice because I lost my mum, Ann, there in 2004, and the care was second to none. It really was like they were caring for their own mum.
“Until you need the hospice you don’t truly understand the amazing work that they do, and that made me think that I should do something to help.
“Then one day I went up to Katz Castle in Cobham to lend a hand, and I was put on the jam stall. It just flew out of there, so I thought that maybe here was a way to raise some money for the hospice.
“I make my own jams and chutneys, and sell them at the local fairs and farmers markets. I’m really lucky in that I’ve got a fabulous greengrocer, Ray in Leatherhead, who lets me have ingredients at cost, and will often not charge me at all.”
“But I’ve just turned 50, and it’s quite a physical undertaking, lifting 20-25 boxes in and out of the car several times a day. I’m only little, and I was younger and fitter when I started doing this.
“I’m up at 6.30 every day to make the jams, then I work full-time at Vincent Flooring in Walton-on-Thames. It can be 9.30 at night before I can really sit down and relax.
“But both my parents were gone by 60, so you start to become more aware of time. I’m really pleased to have done it all though, I could never have donated this much out of my own pocket.”
Tina’s fundraising efforts, though, have gone far beyond her preserves.
“Myself and my good friend Mollie Lake have thrown ourselves out of a perfectly good plane to raise money for the Woking hospice,” Tina said. “It raised over £1,250 from me.
“The hospice organised the event and we went down to Salisbury to a company called GoSkydive, and they paired me with a really nice guy whose nickname was Jam Boy. I took that as a good sign.
“Mollie and I also did an abseil down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth for the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice, a charity close to Mollie’s heart. I raised nearly £500.”
Tina will be at Ripley Farmers’ Market on Saturday, and then is booked for West Byfleet and Chertsey before returning to Ripley next month.
“Ottershaw Christmas Tree Farm have always been kind enough to let me set up my stall there, and that will be my last one, on 15 December. After that I’ll need to get my own Christmas shopping.”
Tina’s efforts were recently recognised by the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices when she was presented with flowers at a volunteer event held at the hospice by one of the trustees, Tony Jarvis.
Phil Wormley, director of fundraising at Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, said: “On behalf of everyone here we would like to say a huge thank you to Tina for her many years of support.
“It is a quite unbelievable amount of money to have raised through her hard work and commitment to the charity. Tina and her delicious jams and chutneys will be very much missed by our staff, volunteers and supporters at our community events.”
And what will life hold for Tina after jam? “The first thing I’m going to do is clean my house and put all the jars and pots away! I’ll probably still do a few local events, but not on the same scale as before.
“It will feel like getting my life back, although, who knows, after all this time I may find that I actually don’t have a life!”
To find out more about Woking & Sam Beare Hospices or to donate, please visit www.wsbhospices.co.uk
For the full story and interview get the 14 November edition of the News & Mail