Goring family raises £40,000 for St Barnabas in memory of sister and father

A family from Goring has raised around £40,000 in memory of two much-loved members who died within weeks of each other.

Debbie and Steve Brattle have been staging annual charity nights in support of St Barnabas House, which cared for Debbie’s sister, Dawn, and father, Spencer. This year’s event saw friends and family dance to local band Murdoch’s Crazy Eyes at The Factory Live, but most of the astonishing fundraising total has been made through events held in the family’s garden.

Images of Debbie and Steve at their parties

Debbie explains how it all began. “On Christmas Eve 2015, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. My sister, Dawn, was diagnosed with the same disease the following February and they died within a few weeks of each other – Dad in the October and Dawn in December. It was a very traumatic time. Dawn was only 53 and she left behind two children.”

St Barnabas House supported Debbie’s dad, Spencer to die at home as he wished but in her last few weeks Dawn wanted to be at the hospice, where she felt safe. She spent five weeks as an in-patient, where her children and Debbie were able to spend lots of time with her.

“Before her diagnosis, Dawn had done a lot of fundraising for St Barnabas herself and after she died, we talked about organising something in her memory,” says Debbie.  “Dawn’s daughter, Rebekah, suggested a tea party. We thought we’d go one better and organise an Italian-themed evening in our garden. My husband cooked hundreds of pizzas, we had a quiz and various competitions.”

The following year, Debbie and her husband Steve embraced a Mexican theme. After that, their charity night was firmly established as a fixture of the social calendar for their family and friends. American and Disco Inferno nights followed, each event raising more money for St Barnabas House. When the pandemic put a stop to in-person socialising, they moved the event online.

“As soon as we could get back to it properly, we did a Country and Western night,” says Debbie. “We had a bucking bronco, a singer and we all did line dancing. It was quite something, more than a hundred people line dancing in fancy dress in our Goring garden!

“Doing this has been wonderful. We do a raffle and an auction every year which raise an awful lot of money. A lot of people are involved, from local businesses to friends and family. Cancer is a horrible disease and a lot of people have been touched by it. St Barnabas is our local hospice, and it has helped so many people locally. They were amazing with our family.

“Dawn was only 53 and she’d done so much for the hospice that we thought it would be fitting to do something to carry on her legacy. This is something that’s very close to our hearts as a family so we will carry on as long as we can.

“And people love it. We have friends and family ask at the start of the year when I’m having my charity night, so they know when they can go on holiday!”

Images of Dawn and Spenser.