A group of hidden heroes have been quietly helping local children and families who are going through the toughest of times for 18 years, raising tens of thousands of pounds for Bluebell Wood.

The charity’s North Sheffield Support Group have been passionate supporters since the hospice itself was nothing more than a distant dream. Their journey began after hearing a talk on the ambitious plan for a much-needed facility to serve families in South Yorkshire and beyond.

In 2003, husband and wife teams Ann and Peter Clarke and Robert and Christine Godber formed Bluebell Wood’s North Sheffield  Support Group. The group, which now has 19 members, have been fundraising for the hospice ever since. Now they’re all itching to get back to work for Bluebell Wood when it’s safe to do so.

In the meantime they’ve been busy baking cakes to help raise awareness of the charity’s #LetsPledge campaign where people are encouraged to pledge their time to the charity, however they’re able and when the time’s right for them.

Ann Clarke, originally from Oughtibridge but now living in Dore, co-launched the support group in 2003 after joining supporters to lobby MPs in Parliament for more funding for hospices.

“I felt this was something we desperately needed and wanted to be part of it. Straight away I became a volunteer,” said the 82-year-old great grandmother.

“I began helping to raise funds and increase awareness by giving talks – and that’s what I’m still doing, 18 years on.

“In those early days, people had no idea what the plan for Bluebell Wood was, or even what a children’s hospice was.

“It’s thankfully very different today, but it’s still so important to encourage people’s support.”

The support group, who have all become firm friends over the years, regularly volunteer at hospice events, collect donations at football matches, hold stalls at various fayres and events as well as giving talks to other groups about Bluebell Wood’s life-changing work.

But, for the first time, they’ve had to sit out their busy schedule of summer events this year. 

“The summer months are one of our busiest times of the year and we’ve all really missed not being able to help.

“We’re hoping that by autumn, which is our busiest time of the year, we’ll be in a position where we can get back out there again.”

As well as helping to support families through some of the most difficult times they’ll ever experience, Ann says the group get a great deal from volunteering.

“You get so much back from being a Bluebell Wood volunteer,” Ann explained.

“It really brings people together. I have met wonderful people doing amazing things to raise money, made many friends and been to lots of interesting places and events. It’s helped to keep me young at heart.

“But what makes it even more worthwhile are the families who have been helped by Bluebell Wood. I’ve met many over the years and their gratitude for the understanding, love and support they have been given are my enduring memories.”

Sally Baker, Community Fundraising Manager at Bluebell Wood said: “Our support groups are at the heart of Bluebell Wood and we would never have achieved all we have without their hard work, dedication and passion.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved with the North Sheffield Support Group, and all our support groups over the years for all you’ve done for Bluebell Wood.

"You really have changed lives, and we can’t wait to welcome you back when the time’s right.”

Bluebell Wood’s North Sheffield Support Group are Pauline Higbid, David & Enid Bishop, Jean Whitfield, Sue Murdoch, Robert & Christine Godber, John & Sandra Barrand, George & Ann Evans, Susan Wilkinson, Dave Townrow, Gaynor Carter, Wendy Nutbrown, Steven & Linda Knight and Peter & Ann Clarke.

You can pledge your support to Bluebell Wood, and help change lives, here