Outstanding Contribution Winner

Judy Francis

Judy founded Thorpe Hall Hospice's Luncheon Club more than two decades ago and has been successfully running it herself ever since. The bi-monthly lunches attract a wide range of people and through membership fees, raffle ticket sales, the sale of second-hand books and plants, and donations, they have raised an incredible £300,000.

A women's group approached Judy, keen to come into Thorpe Hall to hear about the history of the Cromwellian building and the work of the hospice. Judy pushed the boundaries, as always, and organised an afternoon tea for the group. It was so successful that the event became the inaugural Thorpe Hall Afternoon Tea - now a regular fixture on the calendar, attracting around 90 guests each month.

The teas are held in the Great Hall and the Parlour. The tables, laid out with beautiful china crockery which Judy has begged and borrowed, literally groan under the weight of the cakes and pastries. Teas are now fully booked four months in advance, and there's a 'reserve list' - it's probably easier to get a table at the Ritz! The delicious food is prepared in the kitchens at Thorpe Hall and the Teas bring in around £800 a month.

Judy knows and loves Thorpe Hall but recognises the limitations of the building. She readily joined the Public Appeal Committee, aiming to help raise the £6 million needed to build a new hospice. Her passion secured the support of the owners of Walcott Hall, a beautiful mid-17th century mansion house who named Thorpe Hall as their chosen charity for this year's open garden event. Judy enlisted the help of over 30 volunteers to help on the day making teas, running stalls and selling raffle tickets, raising more than £6,000, raising the Thorpe Hall profile, and building very worthwhile relationships.

Judy's enthusiasm and energy are boundless - she is a wonderful ambassador for Sue Ryder and clearly demonstrates all our Values and Behaviours. She has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for us, but her true worth is priceless.