How many of us wake up feeling grumpy and resentful at the day and on another brimming with gratitude for our lot…? Life and the human condition make us like that, and occasionally we have the opportunity to peep into the life of other less fortunate souls and it is a hard heart that doesn’t appreciate the difference.
Many of you may have heard of Association Violet (AV) set up in 2019 by David and Suzette Jeapes with the initial aim of raising funds for their beautiful grandchild Violet, born with very complex physical needs and needing lifelong support.
I can’t quite recall when I got involved, sitting in on meetings and graduating to hosting fundraising Tea Parties in 2021 and 2022. With the support of many generous donors and volunteers, the events were utterly exhausting, fulfilling and financially worthwhile, they with other AV events, have generated funds to be proud of.
Our dedicated AV committee were tasked with identifying worthy recipients to allocate funds raised. Violet received the money for her all-terrain wheelchair from our anonymous benefactor, and so our thoughts were focused closer to home. With its share of youngsters with incapacitating disabilities, the French Government appears less inclined to help severely disabled children with items of necessity or benefit – often classed as ‘luxury or fun’. The concept of charitable help seems more familiar and altruistic to Brits.
Recently, Suzette met with Marie Charrier, the Aunt of baby Louis who was born with many complex needs and whose sad death led her to create an Association ‘Pour Louis et Toi’, to help other families with disabled children.
Largely with support from the French community, this Association specifically raises funds to help support 6 local children, two of whom we had the privilege to meet with their parents, chez Marie.
With initial butterflies settled, the warmth of their welcome was palpable. We introduced ourselves to the families, as best we could, with our somewhat limited French. Also present was a French journalist and we were immensely grateful for Marie’s son, Baptiste, for his periodic considerations, deep breaths and translation services. With nerves under wraps, we managed a relaxed exchange, centred on the services, therapies and equipment needs of the children.
Gabin, a very likeable, cheeky character, has cerebral palsy with spasticity and moves around in a wheelchair. He has undergone neurosurgery in Nantes with extensive postoperative hospitalisation, and is scheduled for further surgery on his hips. Gabin needed special wheel attachments (considered a luxury), to reduce the considerable strain on his arms when mobilising. Association Violet (that’s you folks…) were able to provide Gabin with the final 1,000€ required
Diego, age 7, suffers from Type 1 Glutaric Aciduria, a rare but serious genetic condition, in which the body can’t process certain amino acids and causes a build-up of proteins in bodily fluids. He cannot speak and there is no cure. Diego goes to Spain twice a year for 15 days of intensive physio and there is no support for his parent’s travel or accommodation costs of 3,000€ per trip. We learned that payments for accommodation near a speciality-centre, are not covered by the state, neither is fuel. As a result, some parents are often in a state of privation where essentials are lacking and meals are intentionally missed or unavailable. At the heart of all of this, are parents desperate to access the best treatment for their children and be with them.
On this very special, emotionally charged day at chez Marie, we donated a total of 5,000€ and it was an uplifting thing to do on behalf of you, our supporters. Sure, the increasingly inclement weather may see us huddled indoors but we, at Association Violet, very much hope that when you see an AV event advertised (Garden/Tea Parties, Bingo, Sponsored Walks, (look out for ‘The Return 2023’(!), Barn Dance, Gift Hampers….etc), you will continue your support for us and this local group, that we have now embraced as our own.