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Disabled teen who brought Phil and Holly to tears and laughter launches new fundraising campaign

A severely disabled 13-year-old boy whose fundraising helped to save the outdoor activities centre Lake District Calvert Trust from closure has launched a new campaign to highlight the importance of legacies.

Oliver Voysey last month collected the Prime Minister’s Points of Light award having previously brought Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby’s This Morning viewers to tears through his inspirational fundraising on behalf of the Lake District Calvert Trust.

When he was just two days old, Oliver suffered a brain injury which resulted in him suffering sight loss and developing cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, and learning difficulties. Despite this, he completed a range of against-the-odds challenges as part of his “Oliver’s Calvert Army” challenge, eventually raising over £250,000.

Last year as the pandemic escalated and lockdown was imposed, many charities decided to stop legacy marketing activities – although the Law Society reported a 30% increase in demand for Wills.

Oliver and mum, Sarah

Oliver’s mother Sarah, herself a former charity fundraiser, says that despite the horrific human cost of Covid-19, legacy fundraising has never been more important.

“The pandemic has resulted in a devastating loss of income for charities such as Calvert Lakes, with fundraising activities severely restricted,” explained Sarah.

“For Calvert, every legacy, large or small, makes a massive difference and translates in to joyous, life-changing experiences for thousands of disabled children and adults.

“Oliver’s legacy has been to create his Army and what we want to do next is to encourage people to remember the Calvert Trust in their wills. That way, we can help other families create memories thanks to other legacies. We want more people to benefit from this incredibly special place.  Calvert have given Oliver experiences we didn’t think were possible.”

Demonstrating the point, a recent £100,000 legacy to the Lake District Calvert Trust paid for essential refurbishments to the centre in advance of its reopening in June.  The Covid-19 lockdown had previously forced Calvert Lakes to close its doors, resulting in lost income of £1million.

Other legacies play a vital role in maintaining Calvert’s unique facilities and specially adapted equipment such as its wheelchair-accessible high ropes course – the first of its kind in the UK, fully accessible multi-sensory hydrotherapy pool, zip wire, sailing dinghies and accessible bikes.  There’s also a riding stables with indoor and outdoor areas, viewing gallery, lifts and electronic hoists. 

The Calvert Trust offers all sorts of outdoor activities for people with disabilities

Giles Mounsey-Heysham, Chairman of the Trustees at the Lake District Calvert Trust confirmed the importance of legacies to the charity.

“Although through very sad circumstances, the legacies we have received recently will have a massive impact, aiding the recovery and continuation of our service in the longer term for many thousands of people with disabilities.  Our services are needed more than ever now because of the pandemic,” he said.

Fundraising Manager at the Lake District Calvert Trust, Jennifer Scott expressed similar sentiments.

“Legacies, small or large, make a lasting difference.

“For Calvert Lakes, they are a hugely important part of our fundraising drive, providing funding for essential developments and enabling us to continue our service in the long term.

“As a charity, we are reliant on the generosity of those who believe in our aims. We welcome support which enables those with the most complex and profound disabilities to experience the joy and life-enhancing benefits of the Calvert experience.”

Asked what she would say to anyone considering leaving a legacy to the Calvert Trust in their Will, Jennifer adds:

“Please don’t ever underestimate the difference you can make to the many thousands of children and adults with disabilities that benefit from a visit to the Lake District Calvert Trust. Any legacy, large or small, can making a lasting difference to their lives.”

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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