Inspirational Welwyn Hatfield charity marks its 20th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 17:06 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:21 05 September 2019

Bob and Megs Wilson with Megs' new book Anna's Legacy during celebrations for charity Willow's 20th anniversary at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOO

Bob and Megs Wilson with Megs' new book Anna's Legacy during celebrations for charity Willow's 20th anniversary at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

Twenty years after Willow was founded, a new plaque in memory of the Welwyn Hatfield-based charity's inspiration has been unveiled at Brocket Hall.

Megs Wilson's new book Anna's Legacy. Picture: DANNY LOOMegs Wilson's new book Anna's Legacy. Picture: DANNY LOO

Former Arsenal footballer Bob Wilson and wife Megs have rededicated a Willow tree planted in memory of their daughter, Anna, at the stately home on the outskirts of Lemsford.

Based in Welwyn Garden City, the national charity was founded by Megs and ex-Gunners goalkeeper and TV sports presenter Bob in August 1999.

Their daughter, community nursing sister Anna, died of cancer aged 31.

Bob and Megs Wilson at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOOBob and Megs Wilson at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOO

Anna's love of live was the inspiration for Willow.

One of the Willow Foundation's first events 20 years ago was at Brocket Hall, which included planting a Willow tree in memory of Anna.

Speaking after the rededication, Willow life president Megs said: "It's hard for us to comprehend that Willow is now 20 but we're very proud of our daughter Anna's legacy and all that she has inspired.

The new plaque rededicating the Willow tree that was planted in memory of Bob and Megs Wilson's daughter, Anna, when the charity was launched at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOOThe new plaque rededicating the Willow tree that was planted in memory of Bob and Megs Wilson's daughter, Anna, when the charity was launched at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOO

"We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us reach this incredible milestone."

Since 1999, when the Welwyn Hatfield Times helped to launch the charity, Willow has provided more than 16,500 Special Days.

These Special Days are given to 16 to 40 year olds diagnosed with life-threatening conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease, cystic fibrosis and Huntingdon's disease.

The new plaque rededicating the Willow tree that was planted in memory of Bob and Megs Wilson's daughter Anna when the charity was launched at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOOThe new plaque rededicating the Willow tree that was planted in memory of Bob and Megs Wilson's daughter Anna when the charity was launched at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOO

From celebrating the end of treatment, to having a dream come true, as well as final days with family and friends, Willow has touched the lives of more than 60,000 people over the past two decades.

To mark the charity's latest anniversary, Megs Wilson has released her book, Anna's Legacy, telling the story of her daughter's illness, how it led to this awe-inspiring charity and covering its 20-year journey.

The next major local fundraiser for Willow will be its annual fun run in Hatfield.

Megs Wilson with her new book Anna's Legacy at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOOMegs Wilson with her new book Anna's Legacy at Brocket Hall. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Willow 10K will take place at Hatfield House on Sunday, October 6.

Since 2009, the Willow 10K has been a huge success with people of all ages taking part, and they have raised more than £385,000 for the charity.

To enter the Willow 10K, visit www.willowfoundation.org.uk/willow10K or call 01707 259777.

To find out about how to apply for a Special Day, or how to support Willow by fundraising or volunteering, or to purchase Anna's Legacy, visit willowfoundation.org.uk

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