Fundraising ‘will change a life’

IN MEMORY: Chris Olley, who volunteered at AFC Sudbury.
IN MEMORY: Chris Olley, who volunteered at AFC Sudbury.

Two families who came together after being affected by a debilitating condition have raised more than £4,000 to help other sufferers.

Rachel Collins, from Great Cornard, joined forces with members of Chris Olley’s family to stage a fundraising dinner at AFC Sudbury on Saturday night.

A total of 129 guests attended the event, which included a raffle and auction, and £4,300 was collected for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).

“It was an amazing night and there was such a good atmosphere,” said Rachel, whose mother, Christine Binfield, was diagnosed with the illness 18 months ago.

“I thought it would go quite well because everyone had put in a lot of effort, but it went beyond our expectations and I never imagined we would raise so much.”

The idea for the event came after Rachel, who lives in Broom Street, got in touch with Jenny Olley.

Along with the rest of her family, Jenny has organised numerous challenges in support of motor neurone disease – following the death of her brother Chris, from Bank Side in Long Melford, in December 2012.

Despite battling the effects of the condition, which can leave suffers unable to walk, talk or feed themselves, Chris volunteered at AFC Sudbury for many years and regularly went to matches.

With the help of AFC Sudbury Supporters’ Club, the families set about arranging the fundraiser and had targeted a figure of £2,500.

“Never in a million years did we expect things to go so well,” said Jenny, from Eldred Drive in Great Cornard.

“We were excited and scared about putting on the event, but it could not have gone better.”

Among the major successes on the night was the auction, which saw a signed Steven Gerrard Liverpool football shirt sell for £480.

“The money will make such a difference to the charity,” said Jenny.

“Chris used to always tell us about the different contraptions he had been given to help him and some of the them could cost £1,000.

“This money means we will be able to make a huge difference to someone’s life, because the funding the charity gets is so minimal.”

On Saturday, prior to AFC Sudbury’s home match with Romford, it is hoped Rachel’s mum, who lives with her husband and carer Pat in St Catherine’s Road, Long Melford, will be able to present a cheque to the charity.

“She is really pleased with what has been done and we are hoping to request that some of the money goes towards research and some will stay local to help people nearby,” said Rachel.

In the past, the Olley family have raised more than £10,000 for MNDA – through a 50-mile bike ride and a skydive – and it is hoped the fundraiser at AFC will be repeated.

“We will definitely be doing it again next year,” added Jenny.