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Funeral for Fiona Hills – the charity’s first administrator

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Fiona Hills first joined founders Patrick and Joan Laurance in their spare room/office at Hill Close, Hampstead Garden Suburb in 1975. At the time Pat and Joan were running highly successful coffee mornings but were beginning to think that there was a much bigger opportunity for fundraising.

Fiona Hills (second from left) alongside Linda Laurance, Keith Graham and Deborah Potts

Fiona Hills (second from left) alongside Linda Laurance, Keith Graham and Deborah Potts

Fiona lived locally and, following a career in national journalism and bringing up three children, she was keen to be involved in something demanding. Fiona became the charity’s first administrator and was responsible for the smooth running of the office and liaised with social workers and other referrers about how to access a holiday for a family. She was also heavily involved in the Family Holiday Association becoming a registered charity, sourcing the details of personnel who became the charity’s first trustees.

In her role as administrator Fiona followed up the decisions made by a group of volunteer child-care professionals who, together with Patrick and Joan, met regularly in the Hill Close sitting room to discuss family referrals. Applications were submitted on a form developed by Fiona. She had the happy task of passing on the good news of a successful application and sometimes had to give the sad message of …”perhaps next year”. For many years Fiona studied lists of trust and foundation funds and applied successfully for grants. She liaised with national newspapers and, using her contacts, succeeded in obtaining articles in the Guardian, The Times, and women’s magazines which helped raise the profile of the charity. She was also instrumental in arranging at least one edition of Radio 4’s Week’s Good Cause.

Fiona Hills

Fiona at the charity’s 2008 AGM

Fiona was always on duty at the Summer Fairs in Hill Close and the Suburb’s Square and did a splendid job of selling Pat’s “Meals for Two” fundraising envelopes that might contain a voucher for a fish & chip supper or, if you were lucky, a dinner at the Savoy!

Fiona’s compassion for the families needing help was matched by a great witt and sense of fun. She always demonstrated great skill with words, not only in articles and the Family Holiday Association’s newsletter but also in talking with the wide range of people she had contact with in her role as administrator.

Fiona always worked tirelessly to further its progress and improve the charity’s finances. Like Joan and Patrick, she loved what the charity was achieving and always looked back on her involvement from 1975 to the late 1990s with affection and pride.