More than 100 people attended the 2019 Chestnut Tree House Business Awards ceremony at South Lodge Hotel on Thursday.
Held biennially, the awards were created to recognise outstanding businesses and individual employees and thank them for supporting the children’s hospice, near Arundel.
Sarah Colbourne, head of fundraising, said: “Last year, we celebrated Chestnut Tree House’s 15th birthday – 15 years of caring for children and young people with life-shortening conditions in Sussex and south east Hampshire.
“Without the ongoing support and generosity of our local community, it would not be possible for us to continue providing the care that is vital to so many children and their families. Businesses large and small are a huge part of that and we would like to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of our supporters for everything that they do for Chestnut Tree House.
“We received a lot of entries this year and choosing the winners was definitely not an easy task.”
Winners and grand finalists were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including outstanding team work and innovation. There were more than 80 nominations, which were narrowed down by a panel of judges. In addition to the eight awards, a special Corporate Legacy Award was presented.
Chestnut Tree House opened its doors in 2003 and currently provides care and support to around 300 children with life-shortening conditions and their families across Sussex and south east Hampshire, both at the hospice and in families’ own homes.
The cost of providing this service is more than £3.9million per year. The hospice receives less than six per cent central government funding, so relies on the generosity and support of the community to continue providing vital care to local children and families.
Outstanding Individual Fundraiser
Winner Jamie Alderton, a Chichester gym owner, first visited Chestnut Tree House in 2017 and was inspired to take on his first challenge for the charity – running backwards for 24 hours. With the aid of his large social media following, Jamie smashed his original fundraising target, raising almost £18,000 before Gift Aid, and is now in training for his next charity challenge and world record attempt – to box jump the height of Mount Everest in 24 hours.
Grand finalists were Sarah Hurst and Lorrie Maslen.
Fundraising Team of the Year
Winner AJW Aviation, based near Horsham, has supported Chestnut Tree House for nine years, contributing in a number of ways. Last year alone, the team raised and donated more than £12,000, bringing the total to £45,000 since 2010. The company aims to engage all staff in fundraising activities and last year the team organised a range of events, including cake sales, quizzes, a collection in the canteen and a golf day. Three members of the team also took part in the Chestnut Tree House abseil at Arundel Castle.
Grand finalists were Airwave and Barclays.
Most Innovative Fundraising Idea
Winner Dometic, which has a base in Chichester, nominated Chestnut Tree House as its charity of the year in 2018, than set about coming up with a fundraising event to engage staff and the wider community. The firm organised an Irish barn dance, where the supply chain manager led the dancing for three hours. The event raised £7,800 but also raised awareness of the work of Chestnut Tree House to new prospective supporters by getting the whole community involved.
Grand finalists were David Page and Penguin Ventures.
Outstanding Voluntary Project
Winner Adam Kerry from Sandhurst and his friends pushed a Darling Buds of May-style lorry for 20 miles last August, raising money for charity in memory of Adam’s father, Tony. The lorry push raised an incredible £34,380, which was donated to Chestnut Tree House and the Stroke Association. The team also wanted to increase awareness for Chestnut Tree House, so wore branded t-shirts and caps, and displayed charity banners on the lorry.
Grand finalists were Blue Dawg and Sophie Mitchell.
Outstanding Small Business
Winner The Green Tree Gallery, in Haywards Heath, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2018 by adopting Chestnut Tree House as its charity of the year. The year-long campaign set out to raise both funds and awareness and included an exhibition themed on the charity, entitled Through the Eyes of a Child. The company also collaborated with photographer Sophie Mitchell, curating an original exhibition featuring two Chestnut Tree House children. Their enthusiasm and commitment helped spread the word about Chestnut Tree House and also raised more than £2,500.
Grand finalists were Bramptons Butchers and Portslade Health Centre.
Outstanding SME Supporter
Winner Knockhatch Adventure Park in Hailsham started supporting Chestnut Tree House in 2017 and has committed to supporting the charity on an ongoing basis. Their current fundraising total exceeds £6,000 but the support goes beyond that. Staff have also invited the hospice’s community team to visit during its regular care sessions for local children, completely free, and the team regularly go the extra mile when Chestnut Tree House children and families visit.
Grand finalists are Bennett Griffin and Watsons Associates.
Outstanding Corporate Supporter
Winner Shoreham Vehicle Auctions in Lancing chose Chestnut Tree House as one of the charities to benefit from a car and van auction In 2011, which raised more than £1,900 for Chestnut Tree House. This figure doubled the following year and the event kept on growing, raising a massive £34,000 last year. To date, the company has raised more than £134,000. The auction goes way beyond financial rewards – raising awareness of Chestnut Tree House to different businesses and their customer bases.
Grand finalists were Green People and Vitacress.
Outstanding Long Term Supporter
Winner Teddy Bear Run was set up in 2012. It involves a group of car enthusiasts driving from Goodwood Motor Circuit to Chestnut Tree House every December to deliver teddy bears, and money raised, to the hospice. The first Teddy Bear Run was made up of 30 cars but it now exceeds 120. Last year, it raised £16,000 but it goes beyond that as it offers children at Chestnut Tree House a truly special experience to see and sit in the cars.
Grand finalists were Creative Pod and South Lodge.
Corporate Legacy Award
This new award was introduced to recognise the incredible commitment shown by construction company Willmott Dixon, both in terms of fundraising and offering time, skills and experience over the past five years. The organisation prides itself in existing to have a purpose beyond profit and has committed to making a meaningful, sustainable and positive impact on society. This is evident in its ongoing support of Chestnut Tree House.
Roger Forsdyke, managing director, construction in the southern counties, said: “Engaging with Chestnut Tree House is really meaningful to us. We all understand the work that they do and we all understand how important it is, so it gives us a real purpose beyond profit. If all you do as a team is work for money, it’s not that satisfying. So, working for something else really makes us a better team.”
When Willmott Dixon chose to support the children’s hospice in 2014, the original goal was to raise at least £6,850, the amount Chestnut Tree House needs to raise every day to pay for all the specialist care services. The team smashed this target, raising enough to pay for one week of care. In 2015, it paid for two weeks of care, which it then exceeded in 2016, 2017 and 2018. By December last year, Willmott Dixon had raised more than £700,000 for Chestnut Tree House.
But for Willmott Dixon, it is about more than fundraising. In addition to spending days volunteering within the grounds of the hospice and at the charity’s retail distribution centre, staff have organised a Digger Day for the children and even made and donated a short film, which enabled Chestnut Tree House to trial TV advertising. Individual members of the team also support the charity through their own fundraising endeavours, including running marathons.
Sarah Colbourne, head of fundraising, said: “I’ve seen first-hand how the Willmott Dixon team push themselves on challenges. They throw themselves wholeheartedly into everything they do and really go the extra mile to raise money for Chestnut Tree House. The amount they have raised over the years is incredible but their legacy goes way beyond that. Willmott Dixon have taken the time to really understand and engage with what we do and the children and families we care for.”