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Charity champions bow out with £23k donation to Abbeyford Children's home

A couple who has called time of their incredible charity work which has seen more than £160,000 donated to different causes during the past 37-years have been recognised with a prestigious award.

Helen Marie Charity Abbeyford donation

Article date: 22 December 2022

Marjorie and Arthur Hurst from Islands Brow, St Helens, founded the Helen Marie Charity in 1985 as a lasting legacy to their daughter, Helen Marie, who passed away aged 12 after receiving treatment for a brain tumour.   

Realising that there was a lack of much-needed resources at the time in alleviating the suffering of sick children locally, Marjorie and Arthur - with the support of family and friends - began raising funds which has led to more than £160,000 being donated to local hospitals, educational settings and children's homes over the years to purchase specialist equipment, including an adapted six berth caravan for children and their families to use for holidays.   

The charity recently visited St Helens Borough Council-run Abbeyford Children's Home in Windle which provides respite for children and young people with complex health, learning and social communication needs - a service Helen Marie Charity have supported over the years - to present a cheque for £23,617, where a few surprises were in store for Marjorie and Arthur.   

As well as a number of personalised gifts from the children and young people at Abbeyford as a thank you for their generosity, Mayor of St Helens Borough, Councillor Sue Murphy, was on hand to present them with the 'Mayor's Award' in recognition of their outstanding work and dedication to helping children in the community - while a plaque has been placed above Abbeyford's summerhouse in loving memory of Helen Marie, who always looked to help children less fortunate than her.   

The charity will no longer be actively fundraising, with Abbeyford benefiting from the last of the remaining funds which has so far gone towards purchasing new iPads and the rest to be spent in consultation with service users.    

Looking back on their long service to charity, Marjorie said: "In life, Helen Marie enjoyed supporting children and young people in the borough with illnesses and disabilities and as a charity, we have continued her good work so that her name lives on, while enhancing the wellbeing of children and young people in St Helens with disabilities."  

Councillor Nova Charlton, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, who was among those in attendance for the presentation, said:    

"Marjorie and Arthur's determination to fundraise to keep their daughter's memory alive is an incredibly inspiring story which has led to a significant amount of money going towards improving the lives of so many children in our borough, including right here at our outstanding Abbeyford facility.   

"On behalf of St Helens Borough Council, my sincere thanks go to Marjorie, Arthur and all the trustees at Helens Marie Charity for their duty in helping us achieve our priority of ensuring all children and young people have a positive start in life."   

Hilary Brooks, Director of Children's Services at St Helens Borough Council, added:  

"The Helen Marie Charity has been a fantastic supporter of children's services over the year - particularly Abbeyford Children's Home, the staff from which do a fantastic job of looking after the children and young people in their care.  

"This generous donation - a significant amount of money - will further enhance positive experiences at what is an already outstanding provision."