Chick appeal’s win during Covid-19

Despite being hit by lockdown restrictions the Francis House Easter Chick appeal 2021 proved to be a winner and raised a remarkable £30,000.

Woman wearing mask holding box of knitted chicks.

Rachel Astill with a box of chicks for John Delany Motors.

As a result of the limited number of schools, offices and business venues remaining open, hospice organisers took the difficult decision to scale back the appeal and concentrate efforts on selling the large numbers of chicks left over from last year.

Loyal supporters were however encouraged to knit and sell their own chicks in their local area.

National knitting magazine ‘Let’s Knit’ featured the fundraising appeal by reproducing the Francis House knitting pattern in their magazine and urged readers on their website to still get involved.

Each hand crafted chick is filled with a crème egg, and with dozens of supporters and supermarkets still keen to help, more than 18,000 eggs were sourced and donated enabling the hospice to fulfil orders in time for Easter.

“We were absolutely thrilled with the response to our appeal this year. With all the uncertainty in the air, we didn’t think anyone would find time for our chicks this Easter. But we needn’t have worried – the chicks were as popular as ever and dozens of supporters generously offered to help however they could! Our fundraising team is still operating on a skeleton staff so we desperately needed those extra pairs of hands to make it all happen."

Rachel Astill, fundraising officer at Francis House

Husband and wife Rita and Phil Andrew were the first to step up as volunteer ‘chick stuffers’ by tirelessly filling thousands of chicks from their home in Northwich.

Didsbury mum Rachael Calvo soon followed suit, continuously collecting and returning chicks by the crateload to help the team keep on top of the mounting orders.

Among the businesses happy to help were family run garage John Delany Motors of Stockport, who bought 200 chicks for their staff and customers.

Director, Brittany Delany said: “We were proud to support Francis House in their annual Easter Chick Appeal. As non-essential shops were closed, we helped to distribute the knitted chicks to support the local charity and enjoyed giving a little “eggstra” to our customers at Easter.”

Woman holding box of knitted chicks

Sarah Walker Sargent delivered and sold hundreds of chicks and raised £1,500.

Finance director, Sarah Walker Sargent, also came to the rescue by delivering and selling hundreds of chocolate-filled chicks after teaming up with her friend Kirstie McGrath, founder of local community group Helping Hands Bramhall.

Sarah said: “Ever since I was young, I have always been surrounded by stories of the amazing work that is achieved at Francis House. I have always tried to promote their work as a charity wherever possible and make regular donations, I got involved in the chick appeal around four years ago.

“We set ourselves a target of raising £500 and quickly became inundated with sales as we were offering to hand deliver.”

The fundraising soon became a family affair with Sarah and Kirstie’s children helping to stuff the chicks with crème eggs and assist with deliveries. Between working and home schooling they managed to raise almost £1,500.

Supporter gallery

Rachel said: “We want to send a huge thank you to everyone who came to our aid this year, making the appeal a great success under very difficult circumstances. We are looking forward to next Easter when we hope our fantastic body of knitters will be keen to spring back into action, ensuring we have plenty of stock for a bumper year!”

Each fluffy chick or bunny sold for £1 or £2 each and the money raised goes towards the £12,900 a day needed to provide care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and support for their families.

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