How fortunate Hft is to have a family of Heroes…
Mike, Heather, James and Sarah Stiff have, over the past 40 years found many ingenious ways of fundraising in support of various services within Hft, firstly through the High Wycombe Group of Friends and latterly the East Suffolk Group.
Throughout the physical excursions, 85-year-old Mike, has been at the side of his autistic son James, who himself has been a supported resident at Hft Herts & Essex since it opened its doors in 1984.
Together they have achieved so much. Below are just some of their incredible principal achievements:
- In 1984 & 1985 they took part in the 54-mile BHF London to Brighton cycling event raising £4,413 towards the renovation of the dilapidated greenhouses at Orford House.
- In 1985 & 1986 Mike organised the inaugural Orford House fetes, each raising £4,500.
- 1987 Lands’ End to John O’Groats. Joined by two friends, the intrepid pair, despite foreboding warnings of taking an erratic autistic young man on such a jaunt, raised £53,590 for the Herald House (Hft Bedfordshire) by cycling 874 miles over 14 days. Such are Mike’s persuasive powers and organisation, that he acquired train tickets, petrol, flights and accommodation, so that the expenses for the four adventurers totalled £100 – what value for money.
- Over a period of 20 years, having moved to Suffolk Mike sold £158k of Hft’s Christmas Cards, at an assessed profit of £81k. He was Hft’s top selling agent for 16 consecutive years.
- In 2001 the ‘End to End’ was repeated in reverse, raising a further £24,500. Mum, Heather, took on the daunting 400-mile journey to collect the intrepid cyclists from Land’s End.
- In 2005 the pair broke Hft’s Ugley Cycle Ride records with sponsorship of £5,401, conveniently handing it over the day after being eligible for fundraising prizes!
- Between 2007 and 2011 Mike penned, and self-published a 300-page book entitled You’re not Alone. Well written, it covered the family’s plight of having a severely autistic, disruptive young man in its midst. Despite his misgivings, it has sold well and Hft’s funds have benefitted by over £10k.
- In 2016, having retired from cycling, Mike and James celebrated their respective 80th & 50th birthdays with a four day, 50 mile walk from Woodbridge to Southwold raising £10k. Sarah joined the walkers and Heather acted as the mobile canteen!
- The quartet have recently completed a one day, 20 km (26,069 paces) sponsored walk entitled ‘Mouth to Mouth’ encompassing the rivers Orwell and Deben. Currently, Hft has benefitted with £6,119.63 towards revamping Ugley’s storm damaged Garden Centre.
Hft’s Herts & Essex, Regional Manager Adolf Kamusoko said:
Not only are Mike and his family tenacious fundraisers and media ambassadors for Hft, but during the pandemic they have been, with our families, led by Mike, magnificent supporters of my team. Everyone, including residents, have had a large Easter Egg these past two Easters with Mike’s greatest acclaimed coup being, through persistence, obtaining F.O.C. 132 Ferrero Rocher’s 32-piece Collection Boxes. Hand written by Mike and Heather, each staff member’s present had a Christmas gift tag attached. A family of Heroes!
Watch this space in 2026!