ARMED Forces charity Help for Heroes has paid tribute to a Banbury fundraiser, who has decided to step down from her tireless work at the age of 92.
Dorothy Westcott began supporting the charity in 2011, by sending off a week’s pension. But what began with a heartfelt gesture, evolved into a community-wide movement that saw her surpass fundraising goals – she raised more than £62,000 – and make an indelible impact on her community.
Her initial gesture was motivated by her grandson’s service as a lance corporal in the Queen’s Company Grenadier Guards, in Afghanistan, after which she felt a deep calling to support our Armed Forces.
Help for Heroes’ Supporter Experience Manager, Trevor Fudger, paid her a heartfelt tribute. He said:
“Through snow-covered industrial estates, supermarket collections, and the placement of collection tins in various establishments around Banbury, Dorothy, alongside her 85-year-old blind husband, Ken, embarked on a remarkable journey of resilience and determination.
“The response from our community was overwhelming, and Dorothy became a beacon of hope, known affectionately as the ‘H4H lady’.
“She has made the difficult decision to bid farewell to the active pursuit of fundraising, a decision influenced by the challenges of transportation that naturally accompany the passage of time.
“Now, as Dorothy takes this well-deserved step back, we want to express our deepest gratitude for her unwavering dedication, boundless energy, and the countless hours she dedicated to supporting our cause. Dorothy’s impact extends beyond the impressive £62,000 she raised: it resides in the unity and spirit of giving she cultivated within our community.
“Thank you, Dorothy, for being an inspiration and a guiding light. Your impact will resonate within our community for years to come. As you transition into this new phase, we celebrate your accomplishments and thank you for being the driving force behind so much good.”
“With my grandson out in Afghanistan, I felt helpless back here in the UK and knew that I had to do something to support our Armed Forces. Initially, I sent a week’s pension to Help for Heroes, which then gave me the idea of trying to raise some more money, setting a target of £200. In that first week, I raised £1000.
“Local supermarkets allowed us to collect in store and took in our collection tins. We have taken as much as £900 in one day in store and, with more and more collection tins then being placed in doctors and dentist surgeries, shops and pubs, we were always busy with 17 spread around Banbury.
“News bulletins would show the tragic effects of war and the public were passionate in their support of our Armed Forces, proudly wearing Help for Heroes wristbands and lapel badges. Pubs would hold raffles; village halls organised coffee mornings and cake stalls; and incredibly, Karl, a local villager, held three concerts raising £5,000. People were so kind, and their generosity was overwhelming.
“I took the decision to ‘call it day’, as without transport, it had become too difficult to get around to our wonderful supporters. As I look back to attending the Help for Heroes National Awards and being awarded the prestigious medal for ‘outstanding fundraising and support for Help for Heroes’, I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of my time collecting, and very proud that, in total, I collected £62,000.”
Help for Heroes champions the Armed Forces community and helps them live well after service. The charity helps them, and their families, to recover and get on with their lives. It has already supported more than 30,000 people and won’t stop until every veteran gets the support they deserve.
The charity supports veterans, and their families, from any branch of the UK military – regulars or reserves – irrespective of length or place of service, and locally embedded civilians (and their families) who worked alongside our Armed Forces.
To get support, please visit: helpforheroes.org.uk.