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Strode Park Foundation and Me (well my cousin actually) …

Facebook fundraisers exist to bring people and communities together in special ways. Helen Cuthbert recently celebrated her birthday by setting up a fundraiser on the social networking platform Facebook. Here’s Helen’s story about why doing this to celebrate her birthday means so much and why as soon as she can she’ll be down to Strode Park to say thank you…

“Hello, I’m Helen, and with the lockdowns and restrictions still being in place as my birthday rolled around this year, I wasn’t going to be able to go for a meal or have a gathering. Instead, I decided to ask friends and family for donations to Strode Park Foundation.

Strode Park Foundation, and in particular Redwalls, have a special place in the heart of my family because of the care and support they gave my cousin Donna. From respite care at a young age, to becoming a founding resident at Redwalls, moving in pretty much as soon as it was built.

Donna had Type Two Spinal Muscular Atrophy and at the time of diagnosis she was not expected to live much past the age of two. Well, she proved everyone wrong, frequently confounded the medics, and was fiercely independent and determined. She would not let her condition stop her from having all sorts of adventures.  She was insistent in living as independently as possible and the amazing staff and carers at Redwalls helped her achieve this.

Sadly, Donna died in November last year aged 30 and 9 months old, whilst this was unexpected at the time, everything about her remarkable life had been unexpected. This continued with her choices of music at her funeral. We entered to ‘I am the one and only’ by Chesney Hawkes and said goodbye to her as she went to out in a ‘Blaze of glory’ by Bon Jovi, which just summed up her sense of humour.

I feel lucky that in these strange times we were able to travel down to Kent from Sunderland to celebrate her life with my Aunt and Uncle, her brothers, our Grandparents, and other family members in the way she had planned; well mostly – it was a long list of ideas.

Her birthday, 9th February, is two days after mine, so it seemed fitting to choose a charity that played such a big part in her life. I really hope this summer we, as a wider family, will get to visit Strode Park in all our football shirted glory: to celebrate her life and meet the people who became her second family. I also hope the small contribution my fundraiser provides will help Strode Park to continue being a place where life can be lived to the fullest, because that was Donna’s sole aim. She didn’t want to be defined by a condition.”

Helen is aiming to raise an amazing £100 for Strode Park Foundation and we are very grateful. You too can set up a Facebook fundraiser by simply visiting this link –

Let’s raise a glass and wish Happy Birthdays to these two inspirational ladies.

Helen - Strode Park foundation and me
Fundraiser Helen
Strode Park foundation and me
Donna and her family at a wedding