High flying Pat inspires WI donation

Bucks Free Press: Pat Pearce Pat Pearce

AN INSPIRING talk by a charity founder who continued her work while battling cancer ended with an unexpected cash windfall of nearly £900.

Pat Pearce spoke about her work founding the Amersham-based Dreamflight charity - which takes seriously ill and disabled children on a holiday to Florida - at the Bucks Women's Institute Annual Conference at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury.

The 100 WI members were so touched by the story of her 27 years of charity work, they had a whip round to raise a further £888 for the Dreamflight coffers.

Miss Pearce said: "I wanted to hear the other speakers so went back in. Someone told me because everyone has been so inspired, they were going to have a collection and raised £888 just like that. I was incredibly moved by that - I wasn't expecting anything."

The 69-year-old from Ballinger was awarded the MBE and carried the Olympic torch at Blenheim Palace during the relay around Britain in recognition of her work through Dreamflight.

Ten years ago she was diagnosed with a stomach tumour - and being given the all-clear after treatment made her more determined to continue her charity work.

The seeds to setting up Dreamflight were sown thanks to Miss Pearce's full-time job working as a cabin crew member with British Airways.

She was part of a team who chartered a flight for children to have a mid-air Christmas party 27 years ago.

She said: "When we came back somebody said, 'What will you do next year?' This was a throwaway line but I said, 'Let's go to Disney World'. I'd been to Birmingham and saw the Disney World Roadshow and people wouldn't let me forget that idea.

"I was asked if I could charter a flight. It was going to be a one-off trip but we've done nearly 30 since. I never dreamt it would go on like this."

Each year Dreamflight charters a Boeing 747 and takes 192 seriously ill and disabled children between the ages of eight and 14 on a holiday of a lifetime to the theme parks of Florida.

For more details on the charity go to www.dreamflight.org.

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