CHERRY TREES MONTHLY SURREY ADVERTISER COLUMN - 12 Summer 2020 isn’t the way any of us had hoped it would be. All the excitement around outdoor events, festivals and sporting fixtures have given way to a gulf of unplanned for empty calendars. Glastonbury, The Epsom Derby, Wimbledon, Reading Festival – whatever it was or wherever it should have been taking place, we’ve all seen each of them fall away across the weeks one by one with organisers rightly having to make difficult but necessary decisions to put people’s health first. It’s been the same story in the charity sector. Fundraising events for not for profit organisations across the board befalling the scythe of COVID cancellation. When Rishi Sunak announced the £750M support package for UK charities to apply for back in April, it was a move welcomed by many in the charity sector knowing events would take a hit. At Cherry Trees our events and fundraising calendar has an estimated shortfall of around £93,000 this year making Rishi’s mop up measures greatly needed. But where we have had to say goodbye to a summer of charity golf days, the wet, wild and very soapy It’s A Knockout in Shalford Park and all the usual community run fetes, concerts and coffee mornings there has also been a miraculous will at work at Cherry Trees to find another way. With each twist and shift in what we were allowed to do, the public mood, and watching what people have been up to right across COVID, we at Cherry Trees have kept pace and revolutionised what we can do, how we go about it and how we can be active in our fundraising. We have ridden the crest of what was wanted and when, keeping pace with our community at large. Just a few months back everyone was at it – virtual quizzes –via zoom or Facebook live sessions for a little sofa social time and a chance to ‘see people’ from behind closed doors. So we did it too. Capitalising on this appetite we advertised ‘the event’ on our website, ran a risk assessment, transformed Cherry Trees art room into a makeshift ‘studio’, streaming Fundraisers turned ‘Presenters’ via Facebook Live. What a response! People joined us from all over the UK, importantly raising vital funds with donations rolling in across the weeks – a big boost and all actioned in just a fortnight’s planning. Hot on the heels of the quizzes, up the learning curve we went again. Events matured into niche expert talk’s lead by supporters in our community. Virtually we’ve taken people to a Surrey Hills Plant Farm to find out about growing Dahlias, whilst this month we hosted ‘events’ at the High Clandon Estate Vineyard with virtual tours of the chalk flower meadow, a sharing of ecological information about the viticulture of the grapes grown there. A further talk on the methods and best practises for growing sparkling English wine complements the seasonal feel for socially distant talks. At Cherry Trees we are rounding off July, supported by our Patron Sibylla Tindale and her husband Bruce (owners) of High Clandon Vineyard. We have been invited to provide afternoon teas, served in keeping with government guidelines at the National Open Garden Scheme Open day on Sunday 26th. Visitors from the 18th July to 2nd August can enjoy an outdoor, socially distant art exhibition ‘Art and Sculpture in the Vineyard’. Over 150 pieces of art and sculpture from the very best of Surrey based artists sit ready, in situ on the lawns flanked by the vineyard that has won these two charitable and respected business owners international wine awards. In keeping with the times, booking is by timed slot only. Head to www.ngs.org.uk to avoid disappointment. Donations at the door made to Cherry Trees – yes please. A sparkling glass of Surrey Hills made 2015 Endymion Cuvee amidst a wildflower meadow? Let’s drink to that, but at a distance. All money raised across the fortnight helps benefit the continuation of respite services for children with disabilities and their families.