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- So Kate, Chiswick is a great area to live. Have you always lived in this part of London?
No, I come from Bristol. I moved to London and lived in Chiswick 1998-2001 before spending 7 years in Greenwich and after Chris and I had got married we moved back here when I was pregnant with Tommy in 2008 because I missed it so much!
- You’re a busy mum and balance a successful career – what do you like to do around the area when you have time?
I have two other sons aged 6 and 4 who keep me busy. I stopped working when I became pregnant again with my eldest. As well as running our charity I have recently started a campaign on Twitter in support of our parks in West London @ParkLifeWLondon.
- I’ve read that the Tommy Hollis Children’s Fund raised £45,000 in the year after Tommy’s death, how soon did you first have the idea to start the charity?
We have raised over £210k since we started the charity. My husband and I had the idea to start the charity soon after losing Tommy. There was a brief moment when we thought Tommy might survive but be severely brain damaged so it made sense to help disabled children. Tommy had a wonderful gift of making people around him happy so we wanted to spread happiness in his memory and for this reason one of the charities we support, ‘Small Steps’ in Roehampton, call the sessions we have sponsored ‘Tommy Time’.
- What activities have you been involved in to raise funds?
During the first year we had a variety of fundraisers: a day of children’s activities at Chiswick Town Hall; a quiz night and auction for which Dara Ó’Briain was the quiz master; and a meal and raffle at the Crown & Anchor. We have had stalls at an annual Christmas Party organised until recently by the NCT in Chiswick and each year we have a stall on the Sunday of the Bedford Park Festival Green Days – we’re looking forward to having one again this year on 10th June.
- How did you choose the charities that you support through the fund?
We’re a granting charity and try to support children’s charities with low overheads where the money is used efficiently to make a real difference to children’s lives helping disabled children in particular. We support local charities as much as possible but also national charities helping local children. We like to have regular contact with our charities so that we can see the results of our funding. Occasionally we support charities overseas where we have a link to ensure that there is sufficient transparency.
- I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been losing Tommy. Have you any words of advice for others who lose a child?
I would say surround yourself with the people who genuinely care for you and accept their help. Also, do what you feel is best for you and ask people to respect this but also respect the way others grieve too – everyone is different. We still remember Tommy by laying flowers at the Town Hall in Chiswick every year on 23rd February to mark the anniversary of when he was hit.
- Was there ever a danger of feeling overwhelmed or did an inner sense of “we’re going to get through this” kick in?
It was devastating when Tommy died and for a few weeks we were in a daze but the charity gave us a purpose and the opportunity to create something positive out of something so terrible.
- I remember when Tommy’s accident occurred, and feeling affected by the story. How did the Chiswick community support your family in the months after Tommy’s death?
The local support we have had has been overwhelming, not just in the months following his death but it continues. Marks & Spencer above all have been incredible – their London City Regional Team have raised a staggering £100k for us over three years and the Chiswick branch continue to do brilliant fundraising for us.
Our church, Christchurch Turnham Green, hosted a wonderful memorial service for Tommy; local businesses have really got behind our charity donating food and prizes for raffles; local schools and nurseries have raised money for us; the Duke’s Meadows Golf Club hold a tournament in support of us each year; the Scoil Reims Ceim Oir Irish dance school have an annual raffle for us; Gymboree have been long term supporters; lots of members of the community have made donations or been involved in other ways e.g. knitting ducks (the charity logo is a duck).