Leave a legacy and create lasting memories

27th June 2024

Daphne Woodward was a community champion in every sense and after she died in 2014, she left a legacy to ensure local families who were in need of support, could spend some quality time together.

We are privileged to manage the Fund in her memory and the stories we receive from families who have benefited from her generosity, are heartwarming, like the one from Lucy and her daughter who were able to go to Butlins on their first holiday together.  They both have mandibulofacial dysostosis, also known as Treacher Collins syndrome, which is a rare syndrome characterized by underdeveloped facial bones.

On day one of their stay in Butlins, Lucy sent a message to Home-Start Essex saying, “Thank you so much, we have just woken up this morning and have one very, very excited girl!!!”.

When they returned from their holiday, Lucy wrote: “We had the best time ever, thank you so much. I feel my daughter and I have bonded and grown stronger more than I knew was possible! The memories we’ve made are so special and as she’s going to school in September, it was perfect timing – thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Lucy and her daughter are just one of 65 families to date, who have benefited from Daphne’s Fund which gives grants throughout the year to Home-Start organisations in Essex, allowing them to offer families the opportunity of taking a short UK respite break or day trip. This has helped them to create memories, strengthen family bonds and return feeling refreshed from life stresses, such as post-natal depression or bereavement.

Philip George, who is a former trustee of the Trust, said, “The Trust was established under the will of Celia Allen, a very close friend of Daphne Woodward. Initially, it was quite modest, but some years later Daphne herself died and left a significant part of her estate to the Trust.

“The other trustees and myself then decided that greater expertise was needed to properly look after the fund. We approached Essex Community Foundation, and we were thrilled that they were prepared to take the trust over.  In the ten years since then, the fund has gone from strength to strength.”

Daphne Woodward

Daphne Lilian Burley was born in 1926 in South Kensington.  The family later moved to Colchester where Daphne attended the County High School for Girls.  Sadly, her plans to attend Six Form College were cut short following the death of her father and instead, she applied for a job in the Colchester Public Library, where, over the next 42 years, she would qualify as a librarian, become Chief Assistant and develop the library’s recorded music collection.  In 1952 she married Fredrick Woodward who worked as a local government officer.

After her retirement in 1984 and Fred’s death in 1988, Daphne’s involvement with the Lion Walk Church led to her becoming a qualified and valued lay preacher.  She was very artistic and used her talents to raise funds for various local charities, including St Helena Hospice and Home-Start.  Her interest in local history also saw her qualify as a town guide.

A bequest from her good friend, Celia Allen, who she had met through Home-Start, prompted Daphne to set up a trust to help struggling families.  The Fund in her name now supports Home-Start organisations in Essex, allowing them to offer families who have at least one child under 5 and are under stress from issues including post-natal depression, isolation and bereavement, the opportunity of taking a holiday. Such opportunities can create precious memories, strengthen bonds and help families to return feeling refreshed.

If you want to make a difference in your local community and support the issues and causes that mean most to you, please contact us or email Perry Norton – perry@essexcf.org.uk to have a conversation.