After more than 40 years of fundraising, a Hemyock couple have decided it is time to take a break. Brian and Margaret Wheaton have raised £22,058 for the Cullompton and Exeter-based charity Vranch House, which provides physiotherapy for children with significant physical difficulties. Their son Kevin lost his life to cerebral palsy on March 18, 1966, when he was two. Kevin Peter Wheaton had been born on February 22, 1964. Annual fundraising events in his memory have been organised since to boost proceeds for the charity that cared for him.
Coffee mornings, jumble sales, tombola and bring- and-buy sales have been hosted by the Wheatons, who described support for their efforts as "fantastic."
At the time of Kevin's death, little help was provided by the Government, and that is what prompted the couple to help the charity provide its much-needed service.
Mr Wheaton, 69, said: "We had always felt that the children couldn't help themselves to a certain extent and raising money to help provide physiotherapy was something we could do for them."
Mrs Wheaton, who celebrated her 70th birthday on November 12, said: "The support we've had has been fantastic and it has always been the same. People are very good.
"The village is brilliant for raising funds, it doesn't matter what anybody does here but there is always money about."
The bring-and-buy sales are popular events as only good quality second-hand gifts, like unwanted Christmas presents, are accepted. Mrs Wheaton has also gained a great reputation for the cakes she makes, which has helped to keep visitor numbers up.
A total of 69 people came to an event in February last year, which was hosted at the Wheatons' bungalow in the village and raised a total of £726.
Mr Wheaton, who retired from Lloyd Maunder in 2004, said: "It has been a lot of hard work over the years, but if you don't put that hard work in you wouldn't raise the money."
Mrs Wheaton said: "On the actual day we are polite and pleasant but perhaps underneath you could be fit to scream. It has just given us something to aim for, instead of getting sad and depressed. We never had any other children."
Vranch House School in Exeter was formerly known as the Exeter Spastics Society and this centre was opened in 1969. It has places for 25 day patients and has 1,400 out-patients on its books between the ages of two and 12.
Mr and Mrs Wheaton will host their final sale at 2pm on Saturday, February 23, and a cheque for £2,200 will be presented to the charity's chief executive, Colonel Graeme Wheeler.
The couple will continue to support the charity in Cullompton and the school in Exeter by donating to them any gifts they may receive in the future.
Mr and Mrs Wheaton would like to thank everyone who had attended the fundraising events, given donations or items for sale, all their loyal helpers and anyone who has helped in any way to raise funds for the charity.