An evening dedicated to charity champions raised an amazing £16,000 towards work supporting bereaved children.
The 2022 Harry’s Wonderland Ball saw 180 guests enjoy dinner and entertainment, as well as a charity auction, the celebration of the new champions of the charity, Harry’s Rainbow, as well as a moment of reflection where those guests who have known the pain of losing a child were able to mark the occasion with a remembrance card and candle.
Odette Mould, who founded the charity after the death of her five-year-old son, Harry, in 2009 said:
“We are absolutely delighted with the fundraising total, it’s an amazing amount and some fantastic auction items very much helped us on our way to that total. The event is held every five years or so, mainly to celebrate our chosen champions – people who have done so much to support the charity in so many different ways.”
Although Harry’s Rainbow came about following the death of a child, the charity’s purpose is to support children and young people in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas who have lost a parent or sibling. When Harry’s parents were considering how they could help others in the light of their own loss, they remembered that much of the support they had sought themselves had been mainly aimed at parents, rather than children, and was not available locally, meaning they had to travel to get the help they needed.
“Harry’s twin sister Jessica really struggled after her brother died, but children grieve in a very different way to adults, and it was Jessica’s situation we focused on,” explained Odette. “Small children can often appear outwardly accepting and getting on with their lives, doing the things they like, but they are processing their loss in their own way, and that can be difficult. It’s a lot of emotion to deal with and they need support to understand the way they feel.”
Harry’s Rainbow provides information and guidance through its website and social media sites, as well as support groups, activities and trips and individual, tailored support where it is needed. It is estimated that in the Milton Keynes area alone, on average, 100 parents will die each year, leaving 170 dependent children.
Odette, who was awarded an MBE for her charity work in the Queen’s Birthday Honours earlier this year, added:
“We are buzzing from the Harry’s Wonderland Ball, but we still need to do more to raise awareness of child bereavement. When you think that it is estimated that, nationally, one in 29 schoolchildren are bereaved of a parent of sibling, that’s just startling.”
November 17 to 23 is National Children’s Grief Awareness Week and Harry’s Rainbow will once again be collaborating with The Childhood Bereavement Network to promote the week.
Local businesses, schools and individuals including Brioche Pasquier, Energie Fitness, Mercedes, Portfield School, TheCentre:MK, Mr Simms Sweet Shoppe, DHL and Argos have supported the event in the past and Harry’s Rainbow is looking forward to continuing to work with them this year.
The charity is calling on people to get involved this year. Previously, organisations and schools have baked and sold cakes, asked for donations, dressed up in bright and colourful outfits, held sponsored, fun classes and events and generally had lots of laughter and smiles, while supporting a brilliant cause.
Claire Banbury, Club Owner at Energie Fitness, Kiln Farm, said
“Rainbow Week is an important part of our annual calendar and members know to expect it! We’ve been supporting Harry’s Rainbow since we opened back in 2018 and this particular week-long event allows us to all get colourful, creative, get local kids and adults involved and help shout about the message of grief awareness. We want our members and everyone in the local community to know about the incredible work that Harry’s Rainbow does to support bereaved families and we’re very fortunate to have a charity like this in Milton Keynes to refer people to.”