Welcoming fundholders and supporters to Ingatestone Hall

26th April 2024

We welcomed our Patron, Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, David Hurst, the High Sheriff of Essex, and around 90 of our fundholders, donors and supporters to Ingatestone Hall, an impressive venue built in the 16th century, for the first of our two Spring Receptions of 2024.  The second reception will be held in the beautiful Layer Marney Tower in their Essex Barn on 8 May.

We have been holding these events at Ingatestone Hall for over 25 years and we are so grateful to our President Lord Petre for hosting us in his home.  The evenings never lose their appeal, partly because the venue is so special, and because they are a great opportunity for us to bring people together to share the important work of the local voluntary sector in Essex.

Our Chair of Trustees, Nick Alston CBE DL updated guests on our activities, including that we have already given away £2.3 million this financial year and the planned programme of engagement events that we have been holding with our partners and supporters to help inform our next strategy that we are currently finalising, and which will take us through to 2030.

Hearing first-hand from our fundholders and grant partners is always one of the highlights of these events and this year guests heard from Jill Elms who explained how she was involved in setting up the Maypole House Charitable Fund with us.  Also speaking on the night was Sue Fishpool from Accuro, a charity based in Bishop’s Stortford.  Sue gave a heartwarming presentation about their work and explained how the support and respite they provide is a lifeline for children and adults with learning disabilities, and their families.

Maypole House Charitable Fund

Maypole House Charitable Fund was established with us in 2014 after a group of parents who all had children with disabilities, and after years of fundraising, could not fully realise their dream of building a respite centre.

Jill Elms was one of the parents involved.  She spoke from the heart about her son Tim who was born with Hydrocephalus (water on the brain) in 1984 and some the challenges that she and her husband Bob and other son, Andrew, had to manage.

Jill said, “We enjoyed many happy times with Tim, but family outings could be quite difficult, and we had two sons with very different needs. We wanted to find somewhere that Tim could be himself and enjoy activities that suited him, and also give Bob and I some respite and space to work, spend time together and with Andrew.”.

Jill was introduced to local Charity called ResCU (Respite Care in Uttlesford), which had been set up by a group of parents who were all seeking a safe space for their children who had disabilities and to give themselves respite breaks. She joined their management committee, later moving onto being Chair and a Trustee.

ResCU became Maypole House, which was to be the name of the new Centre they wanted to build and the charity set about the task of serious fundraising.  However, following the 2008 financial crisis, and other challenges they were unable to move ahead with the building and the Trustees took the decision to close the charity.

Jill said, “It was very sad to make this decision, but looking back it was the right one.  We also recognised that we could have built the centre, but we would not have had the money to run it.  Not long afterwards we were introduced to ECF, and we felt it was the perfect home for the charity.

“We may not have been able to realise our dream as we intended, but we are still doing what we set out to do which is to give much needed respite and support to children, young people and adults with disabilities, and their families.”

We continue to work with Jill and two of the other original Trustees of the Maypole House charity, Debbie and Maureen, to award grants annually. This year, the Fund has reached the amazing milestone of having given £250,000 to voluntary organisations in Essex and the Fund will continue awarding grants annually.


Accuro is a small charity making a big difference in West Essex which has received support from the Maypole House Charitable Fund. They support around 200 children, young people and adults with disabilities by providing activities that are fun, safe and inclusive, giving much-needed respite to families and carers.

Activities include day trips to the Zoo, bowling and the cinema, as well as regular youth, holiday schemes and adult social clubs throughout the year.  All of this is achieved by three full-time members of staff, 64 club staff and a further 11 volunteers.

Sue Fishpool, fundraising manager at Accuro said, “Our services help to reduce social isolation and empower our members to feel more independent, confident, happier and healthier.  We provide a wide range of social and leisure opportunities that enables them to develop life skills, build self-esteem and make friends.”.

2024 marks Accuro’s 40th anniversary and what initially started as a local support group in Saffron Walden for parents and children with disabilities has grown into a charity that provides vital support and changes lives for the better.

Our funding, including grants from the Maypole House Charitable Fund, is helping them to continue offering their services across Uttlesford, Harlow and Epping Forest.

To view all of the photos taken at the event, click here.