Radlett-based professional performer and entrepreneur Rosanna Harris has founded a charity to support children with long-term health conditions.
The Birthday Dreams Foundation, launched in October, brings to life the birthday dreams of seriously unwell children otherwise unable to celebrate their special day.
Rosanna explained: “I’ve worked in children’s entertainment for 10 years and I run a performing arts business. It got me thinking that there are so many children out there who can’t celebrate their birthday properly. I want to be able to give those children something, like a gift, trip, or an experience.”
Despite only recently establishing the charity, Rosanna has already started making her vision a reality.
She said: “Last week, we worked with a little girl who couldn’t leave the house, so we brought the birthday party to her. We got in balloons and birthday treats, working with some fantastic suppliers I know through my work to make it happen.”
Rosanna has written to hospices around North London and Hertfordshire to ask if they know of any children to benefit from the charity’s work.
She said: “The plan is to get the name out there. Right now, we’re contacting all the hospices we can think of, but we’re hoping that people will just come forward with nominations in the future.
“I’ve wanted to do it for years. I roped in my personal assistant, Louise, who’s got 20 years of experience working with children, and my mum, who’s a businesswoman with a lot of experience setting up non-profits. Louise, mum and I wrote to the families of all the kids I work with to to tell them what we were doing.
“We even got a load of them involved when we staged a 5km walk to raise the money to formally register the charity.”
The 5km walk, which took place in Bushey on the last weekend of October, also acted as the foundation’s launch event. Attendees brought balloons and Rosanna, Karen and Louise cut a ceremonial ribbon in celebration.
Rosanna said: “We had about 70 people come down, including Louise’s dad, who is 69 years old and suffers from multiple sclerosis. He did the whole thing on his mobility scooter!”
The charity walk raised more than £13,000.
Rosanna added: “A lot of it was the kids. There was an eight year old who raised £1,000 and a 13 year old who raised the same, both from Radlett.
“I aim to have kids involved in the fundraising, so it’s always about children supporting other children.”
Some of the money raised went towards funding a last-minute birthday party for a little boy who had recently undergone heart surgery.
Rosanna said: “No one had planned a party for him because, well, they didn’t know if he’d be healthy enough to celebrate.
“But the surgery went really well and we decided to pull something together.”
Drawing on her experience in the performing arts, Rosanna explained that her next fundraiser in January will be a children’s concert.
She said: “We actually ran out of tickets in 24 hours. Otherwise I’d share the link.”
To find out more, please visit the charity’s website at www.thebirthdaydreamsfoundation.co.uk