Archive for January 14th, 2011

‘It’s a Wrap’ – County Mall Crawley

Friday, January 14th, 2011

The Charity Gift Wrapping Service, ‘It’s a Wrap’ has been operating in Crawley’s County Mall for the past 11 years and over that time has become a standard feature in the area’s Christmas preparations. Each year sees regular customers return as well as new ones joining an ever growing number of lovely people wishing to have presents wrapped and in turn supporting the work of the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton.

The monies raised are specifically to help children and adolescents with cancer. For the past 2 years, this has been put towards the building of a brand new Teenage Cancer Unit and a complete refurbishment of the existing Children’s Department. On completion, hopefully this summer, ‘The Wrap’ volunteers will continue to help fund much needed facilities and equipment within the new building. The fundraising group has so far raised over half a million pounds since its inception in 1995, working first in Croydon’s Whitgift Centre and later expanding to Crawley and also The Ashley Centre in Epsom. That is an awful lot of parcels – about 176,000!!!

My husband and I first became involved after our son, Alexander died from a soft tissue sarcoma in 1996, aged 21. Wishing to turn our tragedy into something positive and seeking to have a new focus as therapy, we met a family who was setting up a charity in memory of their daughter who had also died at a young age from cancer. I subsequently became a trustee of the charity, The Lisa Thaxter Trust which enjoyed a good working relationship with the Royal Marsden until its closure in 2008, following the death if its founder, Geoff Thaxter. Having been an original idea of this family, ‘The Wrap’ was a simple but very effective way of raising money to fund various cancer projects both at local, national and international level.

The number of friends involved with the fundraising rapidly grew and ‘The Wrap’ became an annual event. It had been so successful that after the Lisa Thaxter Trust closed, we decided it was too good a venture to stop. And so…… we continue! We are the same group of volunteers doing the same job and with the same enthusiasm and commitment. We absolutely love it and get to meet such wonderful people. We try to help, not only with present wrapping but also promoting the work of the Royal Marsden Hospital and befriending members of the public when they have cancer stories to share. This is a particularly rewarding aspect of the work.

2010 in Crawley was an amazing success and we beat the previous year’s total, raising £7,465.50. This was in spite of the atrocious weather that we had to deal with, so thanks to my incredible team who worked so hard.

2011 sees us once again looking forward to the next Wrap and we always need more help!! If it is something you feel might interest you, why not give it a try? We hold workshops to show you how to wrap a present well and you have the chance to meet many delightful and like minded people, in a shopping mall that is warm, generous, friendly and encouraging. Rest assured, it can become quite addictive!

Please ring Denise on 01883 342920 for more information. It really is a worthwhile cause and lots of fun. You will be helping to make a difference to young people with cancer and that is surely for the good?

In the meantime, why not put your best foot forward and take part in the Hospital’s charity event, ‘The Marsden March’ to walk 14 miles between its London and Sutton branches? This takes place on March 27th and details can be found on

See you there!!

Denise Clarke – organiser of ‘It’s a Wrap’

Have a cuppa and find out more about your old photos

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Have a cuppa and find out more about your old photos

Is there a photograph that’s been passed to you through family generations, and you don’t know when it is from? Do you look through old family photo albums and wonder when they were taken?

If so, visit West Sussex Record Office, Orchard Street, Chichester, on Wednesday February 2, from 10am-11am, for the latest Coffee Time Session, which this time is concentrating on dating old photographs.

The Record Office holds mid-morning sessions on the first Wednesday of each month, for people wanting to learn about family history. It gives people the chance to learn more from experts, in a relaxed atmosphere over a cup of tea or coffee.

Sessions so far have included learning how to read old handwriting and introducing computer sources for family historians. Future sessions include reading old army and school records and general advice for beginners.

West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Record Office, Deborah Urquhart, said: “With television programmes such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are,’ family history is becoming one of the fastest growing recreational interests in the country.

“Nobody knows what they are going to find and it can be great fun.

“For beginners to the subject, these Coffee Time Sessions show people how to embark upon the journey of discovery, give simple guidance to anyone unsure of computers, and show them the incredible range of archive material available at the Record Office.”

West Sussex Record Office is nationally assessed as one of the top five local record offices in the country.

Tickets are £7 and need to be booked in advance. Call the Record Office on 01243 753602 or email,