Fundraising event for the Rural Coffee Caravan project

Royal event at Milden

Royal event at Milden - Credit: Archant

Rural Coffee Caravan, the mobile charity that offers a place for Suffolk’s most rural and isolated communities to meet for coffee, friendship and access to vital support services, benefitted from a garden party fundraising event as part of the charity’s celebrations of The Queen’s 90th Birthday.

The Lord Lieutenant for Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, cutting the unusual corgi-in-coronet the

The Lord Lieutenant for Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, cutting the unusual corgi-in-coronet themed birthday cake. - Credit: Archant

Juliet and Christopher Hawkins, of Milden Hall near Lavenham, opened their gardens for one afternoon to an audience of guests and supporters of Rural Coffee Caravan.

The event included afternoon tea in their magnificent bunting-trimmed Tudor barn, croquet and bowls on the lawn, a traditional tombola and raffle, a magician/conjurer, a display of Royal and military-interest memorabilia, plus a mint condition 1953 Rolls Royce.

The garden party was attended by The Lord Lieutenant for Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, who cut the cake (which featured a corgi wearing a coronet) to mark The Queen’s 90th Birthday and gave the loyal toast to Her Majesty.

A combined total of just under £10,000 was raised for Rural Coffee Caravan (including a grant from the Florence Cohen Trust).

Ann Osborn of Rural Coffee Caravan said: “This delightful and very successful fundraising event was a pleasure to attend, thanks to the beautiful location kindly offered by Mr and Mrs Hawkins and the superb organisational work of our patron Stephen Miles, his wife Petrina, Karin Norman-Butler and Jill Taylor. I must also thank our excellent team of volunteers, who provided vital help on the day, and many of whom had been baking cakes and scones all week! East of England Cooperative Society deserve to be thanked too, for a generous supply of 99 Fair Trade tea bags, plus Coffee Link for continuing to support our charity with regular donations of delicious coffee. We are extremely grateful to everyone for their support and fundraising efforts.”

Revd Canon Sally Fogden, Founder of Rural Coffee Caravan and chairman of tTrustees, said: “The people we meet on our village visits tell us they feel the Rural Coffee caravan is a vital lifeline. Often we are the only agency that visits them and we might be the only people they have spoken with that week. This fundraising Garden Party was one of a series of over 200 visits and special events we have organised this year to provide opportunities for rurally isolated people to come together.”

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The Rural Coffee Caravan was set up in 2003 and provides mobile support and information services to some of Suffolk’s most isolated communities, often where there is no hall or other meeting place, shop, pub or public amenities.

The charity improves wellbeing by providing a place where they can meet for conversation and information over good coffee and homemade cake.

The Rural Coffee Caravan also provides a mobile information service via its countywide network of almost 100 volunteers in host villages and its working partnerships with many other charities, community groups and support agencies in Suffolk.

The Coffee Caravan ensures those other agencies reach people in need of particular help or specialist advice, by referring and following up to see how they got on.

For more information about the work of Rural Coffee Caravan, its other events and village visits planned throughout 2016, go to