'COVID can't stop us!' - Zimbabwe school fees raised with garden party after Stevenage Day cancelled

Garden Party

SKLA committee members with Mayor Sandra Barr and Mayoress Louisa Barr - Credit: SKLA

A town twinning association - which gets a huge income boost from its Stevenage Day stall - has had to get creative after the event went virtual for the second consecutive year.

Stevenage Kadoma Link Association committee member Helen O’Sullivan was determined that the pandemic was not going to stop the charity's major annual fundraiser for school fees for the children in Kadoma, Zimbabwe - which has been twinned with the Stevenage since 1989.

SKLA garden party

Helen O'Sullivan opened her garden in Basils Road to fundraise for school fees for Kadoma students - Credit: SKLA

When she suggested that her and husband Barry would open their garden, she was met with an enthusiastic response from the rest of the committee and neighbours in Basils Road.

SKLA Garden party

Plants were up for sale at the SKLA garden party, to replace it's fundraising efforts from Stevenage Day - Credit: SKLA

The garden party held in Basils Road - shortlisted in Britain’s Friendliest Street competition last year - included a large plant sale, thanks to Waste Not Want Not which supplied plants at a reduced price.

Helen and Paula

Organiser Helen O'Sullivan (right) and friend Paula Lake - Credit: SK:A

There was also plenty for all ages to enjoy such as a Name the Teddy competition - won by Oliver Stafford who had guessed the correct name of Cuddles - a raffle, craft stall and home made cakes.

Name the teddy for SKLA

To raise money for school fees the garden party was complete with a name the teddy competition, raffles and more - Credit: SKLA

Helen told the Comet: "What was really lovely was it wasn't just about raising money, people were there for hours, sitting and chatting. For some, it was the first time they had come out since the start of the pandemic.

"COVID hasn't stopped us! The Link wish to thank all those who attended and supported pre and post event in various ways, including The Basils Road Ladies and their families, who were particularly supportive."

Garden party skla

There were plenty of sweet treats on offer at the Stevenage Kadoma Link Association garden party - Credit: SKLA

Another Stevenage resident used the event to raise donations with home made onion bhajis and cake, to support her sister's family in Kenya after she sadly lost her life in April this year to COVID.

Helen and grandsons

Helen O'Sullivan with grandsons Oliver and Harry, with Mayor and Mayoress of Stevenage - Credit: Courtesy of Helen O'Sullivan

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The event was also attended by Stevenage Mayor Sandra Barr and Mayoress Louisa Barr, which Helen said was the "icing on the cake". 

Garden party

Visitors to the garden party enjoyed socialising again, while raising money for Kadoma school fees - Credit: Helen O'Sullivan

Although the association is still supported by Stevenage Borough Council, it relies on donations from the community to continue its work to promote the relationship between the two towns.

Mayor and Mayoress

Harry and Oliver Stafford enjoying the Basils Road garden party with Mayor Sandra Barr and Mayoress Louisa Barr - Credit: Helen O'Sullivan

More recently, SKLA has also been involved in supplying PPE to Kadoma.

More than £700 was raised for the Kadoma school funds, with monies still coming in. 

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