Party in the Paddock makes 'epic' return
- Credit: Karyn Haddon
A much-loved charity festival has made its triumphant post-pandemic return, raising thousands of pounds for disadvantaged children.
The sell-out Party in the Paddock festival saw more than 500 attendees swarm the Robin Hood and Little John in Rabley Heath on Saturday, and has raised more than £8,500 for danceaid.
The Codicote-based charity’s mission is 'dancing to make a difference', raising vital funds to educate, equip and empower orphaned, poor and disabled children in the UK, Africa and Asia.
Danceaid founder Laura Wilson couldn't fathom the success of the festival, especially after a difficult 18 months without fundraising - a fact which moved her to tears.
"It was epic!
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"The sun shone - like it really, really shone - and we had a lot of blue sky. We were absolutely blessed beyond belief."
With emotions still running high, she added: "I've worked out in all sorts of places in the world where, what you see would move most people to tears, and I've always maintained composure. But, on Saturday, I couldn't - I was that moved by the support of everyone.
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"The support and the sunshine... it felt like an out-of-body experience. I wish I could go back and do it again and actually realise that this is real."
This year marked the fifth and biggest instalment of Party in the Paddock.
"Off of the back of Saturday, I'm totally buzzing and really excited for next year!" she exclaimed.
After raising £7,000 at their last Party in the Paddock in 2019, Laura was ecstatic to announce that a "mind-blowing" £8,516 had been raised at the 2021 event.
Every penny of donated money will now go to supporting disadvantaged children, as danceaid's Party in the Paddock sponsors covered all costs of running the day festival.
"This money can do a lot, and it's never meant more.
Laura added that the small number of monthly donors, as well as the responsible board of trustees, have helped keep the charity afloat during the pandemic.
"Our reserves have been utterly drained. The support that we've been able to offer children now - well, they need us now more than they've ever needed us before.
"We're now able to bolster some of our projects back up. Instead of just running a feeding programme, we can go back to offering an actual building that the children can come and see our councillors and volunteers in, and get the support that they really need - rather than just having, for example, food dropped to their doorsteps.
"Every person's money was actually a donation to the charity."
"Proud and exhausted" Laura is hoping that after coming back with a bang, she can drum up interest for future Party in the Paddocks and other fundraisers.
To support danceaid's work, visit danceaid.org/donate.