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Gloucestershire Business News

Happy birthday to the Pied Piper Appeal

A charity which has raised more than £6million to support sick and disabled children in Gloucestershire since its foundation by hairdresser Peter Hickman in 1992 is celebrating its birthday.

The Pied Piper Appeal was initially established to raise money to build a new Children's Centre at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. 

Today it still enjoys a close relationship with the NHS, especially in these tough times, sending in materials and supplies for the nurses and families on the ward.

Pied Piper has also extended its reach to provide equipment, hoists, sensory play areas, IT equipment and minibuses for the SEND special needs schools in the county. 

Every month, under normal circumstances, the charity arranges for children with life limiting conditions and their families to make memories on Wish holidays. More than 25 Wish holidays were granted in 2019.

Paediatric mental health is another growing area of focus for the charity. Pied Piper has been able to initiate and deliver projects such as the Family Room at Wotton Lawn and the children's outpatients at Evergreen in Cheltenham.

Pied Piper now also pays for four children a week to have respite care at The James Hopkins Trust, using profits raised at its Brockworth-based charity shop, which is planning a safe reopening when possible.

At a hospitality event before lockdown, Pied Piper raised £23,000 to buy a state-of-the-art hearing diagnostic machine for advanced hearing diagnosis that the NHS could not fund, saving children to have to go to Bristol and allowing the best possible treatment plans.

One of the next big projects is to fundraise for is a new play area at the Ridge Academy SEND school in Cheltenham, which will cost more than £40,000.

But with many postponed events due to coronavirus, Pied Piper has turned to the virtual world of Zoom and social media to seek much needed donations and keep some revenue coming in. These include a weekly sax and song quiz on Facebook Live with vice chair Julie Kent, a virtual Halloween Ball in October; Dress Up Friday and bi-weekly Saturday night cocktail masterclasses, in partnership with The Ivy Brasserie.

Peter Hickman, president, who will be 90 later this year, said: "The Pied Piper was sorely needed 28 years ago to assist the sick children in Gloucestershire, and I didn't dream of it lasting this long and being so successful."

Nick Broady, chairman of the appeal, said: "I am continually proud of the team we have at Pied Piper, especially during this difficult time for sick children and their families. We have continued to support the nurses and staff at the Children's Centre during this pandemic and thank everyone that has contributed to our Find a Fiver campaign, and other online appeals."

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