Sunday, January 31, 2016

Making Dreams Come True
– Report from January Coffee Morning

At our January coffee morning our guest speaker was Avril Mills BEM (pictured) who is the founder of local Charity The Dream Factory whose aims are to fulfil the dreams of children who have life threatening illnesses or disabilities.

Avril was the head of fund raising at Haven House children's hospice over in Woodford for 8 years but always wanted to start her own charity in memory of her son Oliver who died aged 9 from Leukaemia. She has two other grown up children.

She also seems to be quite a scrounger (as per James Garner in The Great Escape) or in Belbin’s Team Mix a Resource Investigator. She has a donated office in the Southern Electricity building on the Hainault Industrial Estate, or as they like to call it these days the Business Park, and a liveried car. And lots of Patrons, which does come in handy as we will find out shortly.

They are not national and operate in London, Hertfordshire, Essex and Kent and have a trained team of volunteers who visit the home to make sure the request is what the child actually wants, which is not necessarily what mum and dad (or guardian) think they want. Requests can be from the headline-grabbing trip to Disneyland to more unusual things like swimming with dolphins to the very simple like a new Batman duvet cover.

But the really interesting thing for me, and The Dream Factory’s KSP (Key Selling Point), is that even for those families who have the means to provide a trip to Disneyland themselves, the most difficult dreams to grant are those that do not cost any money and can be arranged through what we in Barkingside 21 call “mate’s favours”.

One such was a request from a young lad who wanted to play football with David Beckham (he's the one married to Posh Spice), who by chance was in the UK at the time and training just up the road at the Spurs (can we get excited yet?) training ground. Now looking at the list of patrons you’d think Harry Redknapp ("my missus could've scored that") but no, David just happens to be a buddy of Ray Winstone. And so it came to pass.

For more information visit the website.

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