A Shropshire charity has praised the county’s Businesses for Children Awards for helping it raise its profile in the year since it won an award at the ceremony.
The Harry Johnson Trust was declared the 2016 winner of the Children’s Charity Award, which recognises Shropshire charities helping to improve the lives of children and young people.
Since then, Sally Johnson, who lives in Vennington, Shrewsbury, and set up the trust with her husband Stephen, said the charity’s work has become better known in the county, meaning more support has been available for families with a sick child.
The couple started the charity after their son Harry, seven, died from double hit non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer so rare that at that time only three other children in the world had the same diagnosis.
The trust provides children diagnosed with cancer and referred to Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital with a little box, a Harry’s hamper, full of useful everyday items that families may have forgotten to pack.
It also pays for families to have a holiday in Shropshire, so they can remain near the child’s medical team as well as lots of other thoughtful gifts, such as vouchers for the hospital cafe, new pillows and toys.
Mrs Johnson said she couldn’t believe it when The Harry Johnson Trust was declared the winner in its category at the BCAs.
The charity also received £550, raised by guests at the ceremony in a ‘heads or ‘tails’ game.
She said: “When our name was announced as the winner of our category, we were overwhelmed.
“It was great to use the award to be able to publicly say thank you to everyone who has supported the trust since it began.”
Mrs Johnson said in the past year there have been many highlights including being the named charity at several Shropshire events, such as the food festivals in Telford and Shrewsbury and the Shropshire Kids Festival.
She said: “We have also been lucky to receive donations from individuals and groups who have fundraised for us.
“A highlight has been the increased number of children we have been able to help because of people’s kindness and support.”
“We had begun to exhaust our personal connection and local businesses so to be able to ‘spread the word’ about what we do across a wider audience has been brilliant.”
Mrs Johnson said the charity now hopes to become more visible in other parts of the county such as Telford, Ludlow, Oswestry, Welshpool and Bridgnorth.
She said: “Award ceremonies such as the BCAs are so important for local businesses. We all serve the same local communities and employ or use local people to operate and make progress in our individual fields.
“As a charity, events like the BCAs give businesses an insight into the work some of the many local charities do and offers potential avenues of support for them – social responsibility is a big part of business and by giving charities a platform at events like the BCAs hopefully both will benefit.”
This year’s BCAs, now in its fourth year, will take place on March 11 at the Park Inn Hotel, Telford.
Andra Brasovanu, awards co-ordinator for 2017, said: “We are thrilled that winning an award at last year’s BCAs has helped The Harry Johnson Trust to get its name better known in the county.
“The work the charity does is exceptional and we hope its success continues.”
This year there are 13 categories at the awards ceremony, which include New Business for Children and Young People, Sports Business for Children and/or Young People and BCA Shropshire Childminder plus a new award for volunteer of the year. The ceremony will include a game of Heads and Tails to raise money for the 2017 winning charity
The evening, which will be hosted by BBC Shropshire film critic and editor of Shropshire Business Today Carl Jones, will begin with a drinks reception at 6.45pm.
To buy tickets, visit the website at http://www.bcawards.co.uk/
Existing sponsors include The Wroxeter Hotel, Shrewsbury University Centre, Lanyon Bowdler, The DDC Consultant, J&PR, SJF Design and Print, photographer Ed Bagnall, National Windscreens and Pengwern Books.
To sponsor the 2017 awards, please email: businesses for firstname.lastname@example.org