Ty Olwen fund-raising girls invited to open new-look Swansea Clarks store

TWO little girls, who have raised hundreds of pounds for a hospice, have been invited to officially open a revamped Swansea city centre store on Saturday (Jul 20).

Ten-year-old Georgia Maunder decided she wanted to raise money for Tŷ Olwen hospice when her beloved grandfather, Tony Maunder, was diagnosed with cancer and needed respite care at the Swansea hospice.

Her best friend nine-year-old Grace Mackenzie was only too happy to lend a helping hand and between them the two have already raised more than £360 for the hospice, mainly selling their home-made cakes and friendship bracelets.

But now Clarks shoe shop at the Swansea Quadrant shopping centre, has agreed to invite the two girls to officially open their newly revamped store and let them use the opening to carry on their fund-raising efforts.

“Basically it started because her grandfather, Tony, was diagnosed with cancer in late February,” said Georgia’s mum, Samantha Maunder, of Summerland Lane, Newton.

Sam, who works for a bank, explained: “Tony went into Tŷ Olwen about March, April time for three weeks originally and Georgia and Grace went to visit him.

“Georgia’s always done cancer research runs and always been aware of these things. The hospice has a lot of volunteers and people running the hospice shop and so Georgia decided she wanted to raise money for the hospice.

“She and Grace made friendship bracelets which they sold at their local youth club and in 10 minutes they had raised £15.

“That started the bug and it escalated from there. Her grandfather went back into the hospice and died in June. It was fantastic the way they looked after Tony and the family.

“Tony was in Tŷ Olwen twice and they were outstanding, the work they do is phenomenal.”

When another relative launched a sponsorship drive for a planned walk up Kilimanjaro, Georgia took advantage and set up tables at the launch so that she could sell more home-made cakes and bracelets.

Father–of-three, Tony, was 74 when he died. He was a postman and self-employed carpenter, and had nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren. “Georgia used to go bird watching with him, she was very close to her grandfather,” said Samantha.

While Tony’s death devastated the entire family, Samantha and husband Chris, found that while younger daughter Jasmin, seven, cried a lot, Georgia dealt with her grief by throwing herself into the fund-raising.

Georgia has taken part in the Pink and Blue Mumbles walk for Wales Cancer Research and she and Jasmin will take part in the Swansea Race for Life on Sunday.

Andy McIlvaney, Deputy Manager of the Clarks shop in the Quadrant, said: “The efforts made by Georgia and Grace for charity have been fantastic and that’s why we have invited them to officially open the store.

“For two young people to work so hard for others is a wonderful example and we hope they are able to raise plenty of money on Saturday when they will be collecting at the store.

“Ty Olwen is such an important charity for local people and we’re delighted to be able to help Georgia and Grace support it.”

The new store will open on Saturday morning at 9am and will be the most advanced and up to date in Wales with a special addition to Clarks famous fitting service which now uses an iPad link to the standard gauge for even greater accuracy and improved service.

Andy added: “It’s a major investment by Clarks in the store and in the Quadrant and Swansea and with 30 people employed there it makes a significant contribution to the local economy.”

“I’m very excited about being asked to open the Clarks shop,” said Georgia, who attends Newton Primary School where she has just passed her Grade 1 violin exam with merit and plays in the school orchestra.

“I’m a bit nervous too, but it’s definitely worth it for my granddad.”

Samantha added: “When I told Georgia and Grace they were going to open the shop they were absolutely chuffed, really excited. I said ‘are you sure, there will be a lot of people there?’ and they just said ‘Yes’. It’s quite worrying just how grown up they are!

“It’s nice though, that when they come home from school they are not watching TV or playing video games but making cakes and bracelets.”

The 20-bed Tŷ Olwen Hospice is a purpose built specialist palliative care unit which forms part of the Abertawe Bro Morganwg University Health Board Cancer Directorate.

It also includes a day-care centre, and facilities for outpatients, counselling support and teaching.

Ty Olwen – “The House of Olwen” – is named after Mrs Olwen Morgan the first chairperson of the Fundraising Committee in 1978, who worked tirelessly to raise the £500,000 to build the unit. It was opened in 1982 by the Duchess of Kent.

Ian Kirkpatrick, Manager of the Quadrant Shopping Centre, said: “Ty Olwen is a wonderful local charity whose work touches the lives of so many people in this area and it’s a brilliant effort by these two young girls to support it.

“Clarks are an important part of the retail offer here at the Quadrant and this latest major investment by them follows other major commitments by other retailers which amount to a massive vote of confidence not just in the Quadrant but in Swansea as well.”

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