Not once when Hannah was given that small cuddly toy did she ever think that something so big and exciting as a charity would come of it. For the first few months, Hannah and Willberry’s heads were spinning. People were so kind and supportive and donations flooded in to help Hannah with purchasing a wig for herself, as she lost her hair due to chemotherapy, and some vital equipment to aid her independence, as the type of cancer slowly continued to strip her of this. All too soon, there was hardly a wrist in Somerset not sporting a #kickingcancersbutt wristband!
It quickly became clear that Hannah wanted more than just this though, as in spite of being in constant pain, her first concern was for other people – people with the same diagnosis as her, and seriously ill people whose lives could be enriched, as hers is, by horses. She felt it was entirely wrong for anyone else to have to suffer in this way. As fast as the money came in, Hannah started sending it right back out again to support a host of cancer charities. There was a huge groundswell of support for Hannah and Willberry as they told their story – and they realised that this could be an opportunity to help other people learn about living with this awful disease. Hannah, together with her family and some good friends, channelled their energy and resolved to set up a formal charity, now known as Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity. The charity was finally registered on 29 March 2016, number 1166416. The charity aims to support vital research into osteosarcoma and to grant equine related wishes to seriously ill people and their families.
The support from the equestrian community and many others, both in the UK and worldwide, has been incredible. Whether it is holding cake sales, climbing mountains, racing man v horse across Snowdonia or partying the night away at Willberry events – the supporters never seem to tire in their efforts to support the charity.
We are also extremely proud that Ben Hobday (#yehboi, #v8supercob) agreed to be Patron of the charity. Ben’s own horrific experience with cancer meant that he and Hannah shared a true understanding of the importance of making the need to beat cancer well and truly known by all. We are so grateful to him for agreeing to be our Patron.
We are also honoured and thrilled to have Kitty King as a second Patron of the charity, and Kitty continues to be a source of inspiration, generosity and support to us. We consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have two such wonderful top-level athletes as part of our team.
The Charity is run entirely by volunteers. Its current Trustees, chosen by Hannah and her family, are:
- James Francis
- Rachel Francis
- June Clothier
- Miles Toulson-Clarke
- Ian Peters
The way in which the charity has taken off has exceeded all our expectations, in more ways than you can even imagine, and we know that Hannah would be hugely grateful to every single person who has taken the time no matter how big or small to support something so close to her and our hearts.
Our thanks go to every single person who helps in any way to enable Hannah’s charity to grow bigger and stronger. Your support and, of course, the incredible inspiration Hannah has given us, makes us ever more determined to continue our work towards finding a cure for this evil disease.