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Close Burnham Market community come together to support charities





A tight-knit community based at the Sutton Lea sheltered scheme in Burnham Market has come together to raise vital funds for a host of charitable organisations.

The group, who mostly live in the 31 properties managed by Freebridge Community Housing, meet up once a week in their North West Norfolk-based communal area for coffee mornings and other themed events.

That helps them raise more than £100-a-month for good causes, which is then donated to their chosen charity of the month.

A handful of the community group based at Sutton Lea, including Martin Bawden (third from left) (61765738)
A handful of the community group based at Sutton Lea, including Martin Bawden (third from left) (61765738)

They raised £2,254.50 in 2022 and have already made donations to charities such as Crisis (homeless charity), MacMillan Cancer Support and the Tapping House Hospice, with the RNLI, Air Ambulance and Hearing dogs, as well as organisations that support Motor Neurone Disease, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Chronis/Colitis and Parkinson’s Disease, next on the agenda for them in 2023.

The group are headed up by chairman Martin Bawden, who is a therapeutic support officer in Outwell and a resident in one of the Sutton Lea properties.

“All of the money we raise here comes from the weekly coffee mornings,” said Martin, who was homeless before Freebridge found him a bungalow at Sutton Lea. “When we have an event, we do a raffle and that funds everything we do.

Martin Bawden proudly stands in front of letters received from the charities the Sutton Lea group have donated to (61765736)
Martin Bawden proudly stands in front of letters received from the charities the Sutton Lea group have donated to (61765736)

“It also allows us to do trips out in the bus, with residents going free. But sometimes they bring friends, who pay for the journey – which also funds our next trip and feeds into the pot we can donate.

“We’ve given money to so many different charities and organisations. I’m very proud of the people here, we do a lot for others but also look after each other, too.”

Martin, who proudly displays letters from the charities the group have donated to on the communal area wall, is equally as chuffed by the way the residents care for each other – including how the ageing population are embracing technology to protect themselves.

“We’ve built this up since lockdown really,” added Martin. “As well as the coffee mornings, we do various other things, like seated exercise.

“We also arrange monthly social events, such as the Platinum Jubilee, Halloween and a big Christmas bash. That’s helped in creating a proper community environment here.

“What I’m most proud of is our WhatsApp group. Most of the residents on Sutton Lea are a part of it – and that ensures that we are all connected if somebody needs help.

“That covers small things like taking somebody to the shops to helping each other make hospital appointments and picking up medication.

“We’ve built such a strong bond as a community. There are only 31 bungalows here, but the community is very special.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without committee members Rowena May and Carol Connor, as well as the members themselves.”



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