Willow was founded by former footballer and broadcaster Bob Wilson and his wife Megs, after their daughter, Anna died of cancer aged 31. It’s the only national charity to provide psychological and emotional support for seriously ill young adults, aged 16-40, through the provision of unforgettable ‘Special Days’.
Through their experience with Anna, Bob and Megs realised the excitement and anticipation leading up to treat – as well as the day itself, and the happy memories afterwards, could deliver tangible benefits to patients. So they decided to help others achieve their dreams. From filling a dying young mother’s garden with snow, so she could see her children throwing snowballs, to fans meeting their idols or taking a limousine to a West End Show……Willow has fulfilled more than 11,000 Special days. Mary has been a patron for 14 years since Willow started.
Founded by Andy and Zoe Clark-Coates, The Mariposa Trust supports people who been affected by the loss of a baby – during pregnancy, birth or infancy. They organise”Saying Goodbye” memorial services at Cathedrals and Minsters throughout the country, enabling people to mourn openly, sometimes for the first time, for the children they have lost.
Action for Children (formerly NCH) has been supporting the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people in the UK for almost 150 years. They currently work with more than 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers tackling issues such as neglect and abuse “For as long as it Takes”. Mary is a regular host of their Spring Ladies Lunch – the most recent of which raised £85,000.
DCT was founded by Mary’s former colleague and friend Emily Crossley and her husband Nick, after their son Eli was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Their mission is to raise enough money for global scientific research to “Beat Duchenne in Ten”. They believe, with the right funding, doctors will be able to find a cure for Eli and thousands of boys like him, over the next decade.
In 2003, while pregnant with her daughter, Mary competed in Who Wants to be a Millionaire, with Des Lynam. She raised £32,000 for Wellbeing, which funds research into improving the health of women and babies.
Mary is an Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust. The Trust supports 13 to 30 year olds who are unemployed, and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion. Around one in five young people in the UK is not in work, education or training. Youth unemployment costs the UK economy £10 million a day in lost productivity, while youth crime costs £1 billion every year. Many of the young people the Trust helps are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or mental health problems, or have been in trouble with the law. Their programmes give young people the practical and financial support they need to stabilise their lives. They help develop key skills, confidence and motivation, enabling young people to move into work, education or training.