Donations to group hit by Farepak

PUBLISHED: 12:29 16 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:14 06 May 2010

n Members of the Libra Support Group with donors Noreen and Ashfaq Rehman from ACE Taxis, Sue Lashley and Becky Martin from Three Valleys Water and Barbara Follett MP

n Members of the Libra Support Group with donors Noreen and Ashfaq Rehman from ACE Taxis, Sue Lashley and Becky Martin from Three Valleys Water and Barbara Follett MP

THE smiles have returned to the faces of a group of terminally and seriously ill children in time for Christmas. The children, members of the Libra Group in Stevenage, were expecting a bleak Christmas after their £500 savings had been lost when hamper com

THE smiles have returned to the faces of a group of terminally and seriously ill children in time for Christmas.

The children, members of the Libra Group in Stevenage, were expecting a bleak Christmas after their £500 savings had been lost when hamper company Farepak went bust with debts totalling over £40 million.

With so little left in the bank the group was going to dig deep into its savings to try and make sure all the children got food parcels as presents.

If they had used their savings, trips planned for next year would have had to have been cancelled.

The Comet story last week led to an immediate response and this week the group was given almost £2,000 to make sure the children had a very happy Christmas.

Stevenage MP Barbara Follett donated a day's wages and husband and best-selling author Ken Follett gave the group £500 from the Follett Trust. Barbara Follett also donated a further days wages to the Farepak Response Fund. Three Valleys Water and ACE Taxis of Stevenage also chipped in £500 each to the Libra group..

"What the directors of Farepak did was pure wickedness," said the MP.

"When they were being interviewed on TV on Monday they showed no remorse. When I read the Comet story I felt Ken and I just had to help."

As soon as Three Valleys Water saw the appeal they immediately stepped in with a donation for £500.

Sue Pavey, of Three Valleys Water, said: "As soon as we saw the story we just had to help. We have worked closely with the group in the past on environmental projects and could not let them face Christmas without their normal presents.

"The company acted very quickly and within hours of hearing their bad news we had drawn up a cheque for the group and hope all the children have a great Christmas."

"We were so worried about not having enough money to give these children presents. Christmas is so precious to seriously and terminally ill children and their families and when we lost the money we were gutted," said Libra Group treasurer Steve Long.

"We thought the kids would be without presents then we had the wonderful news about Barbara Follett and her husband, Three Valleys Water and Ace Taxis and suddenly Christmas had arrived early.

"I am thrilled and just want to thank these people from the bottom of our hearts. Without them our group of children would have missed out on a lot.

"Now we have at least £1,500 and the kids will be smiling and very, very happy this Christmas."

Noreen Rehman, director of Ace Taxis, said: "Christmas is a time for giving and Farepak went bankrupt at the wrong time of year for these kids. We just couldn't sit back and see them lose out."

John Lewis is organising a special Christmas party for the children in the canteen at its distribution site in Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage.

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