The Hersham Hub Joins Harmes Turner Brown to Support Phab Kids

The Hersham Hub Joins Walton on Thames Estate Agents Harmes Turner Brown to Support Phab Kids

Throughout the course of our continuous researching and campaigning for local events and activities we’re lucky enough to get to know lots of great, friendly and professional local residents, Councillors, charities, companies and entrepreneurs.

We do what we can to try and support many charities not just by raising awareness and helping to promote and publicise fundraising events and activities across our many popular websites and social media channels (which we absolutely love to do) but also by actually trying to raise money (this mainly involves me running a lot!).

Our first attempt at charity fundraising came shortly after we ‘launched’ the website back in January 2015 and we have tried to support a different organisation each year.

I’ve been restricted by injury and missed a few races so far this year but am back fighting fit (I think).

So I have found myself giving some serious thought as to who we should support for this years charitable (running) activities!

One of the many great local companies we have the pleasure of working with is Walton on Thames Estate Agent Harmes Turner Brown in particular Steve Turner, the ‘Turner’ in Harmes Turner Brown.

Steve is extremely friendly and professional and is always happy sharing his expert property insights with us and providing useful advice and information about the local Walton-on-Thames property market for us to publish on The Hersham Hub and our sister Walton on Thames websites.

But in this one occasion I asked him about a charity that I know is very close to his own heart and one that Harmes Turner Brown have actively supported continuously for a number of years, Phab Kids.

The conversation came about because I’ve noticed on social media that Steve and Harmes Turner Brown have been committed to their support of this charity for as long as I have been following them.

We all know that Estate Agents do sometimes get a bit of a bad press so thought it was important to share just why we have decided to join Harmes Turner Brown in their tireless support of Phab Kids.

BTW – If you’re looking for a London Marathon, Royal Parks Half or Ride London 100 charity place we have details of all the available spaces that Phab Kids have at the bottom of this post.

About Phab

The first Phab project began in 1957, and for nearly 60 years the charity has encouraged and supported children and adults with and without disabilities to make more of life together.

Each year around 116 children and young people aged from 8 to 25, supported by 99 enthusiastic and specially trained Phab volunteers and carers, join us at two carefully chosen and fully accessible outdoor activity centres in the beautiful and inspiring surroundings of the New Forest and the Lake District. 

Through the challenging and exciting activities on offer and the experience of being away from home and just having great fun together, the children build their self-esteem, confidence and independence and learn new practical, personal and social skills which all helps them when they go back home – along with some great memories and new friends made. 

Most of the children and young people have physical, sensory or learning disabilities.  Some have complex needs requiring the support of a dedicated carer or two Phab volunteers.  Those disabilities can include cerebral palsy (including quadriplegic cerebral palsy), learning disabilities, social anxiety, global development delay, visual or hearing impairment, Downs Syndrome, autism, ADHD, Asperger’s, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, epilepsy, speech and language difficulties, scoliosis, arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, hydrocephalus and behavioural difficulties. 

And to fulfil Phab’s overarching aim of promoting understanding and inclusion of disabled and non-disabled people, a small number of children attending are not disabled but disadvantaged in some way, perhaps in foster care or having experienced abuse or bereavement, or they are the sibling of a child attending with a disability. 

We are also looking forward to working with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, with five more disabled people having a place on one of their very special tall ship voyages in 2018.”

We have posted a video message from Anita Dobson, broadcast on the BBC’s lifeline programme this weekend, that highlights the importance of the work that Phab Kids do – you can jump to it here.

At this point you may be wondering…

Isn’t The Hersham Hub just about Kids Activities and School Holiday listings?

The Hersham Hub idea was ‘born’ as we had just moved to the area from Wimbledon to get some more space for the family and my wife had a young baby, and another on the way and she didn’t know anyone and couldn’t find a single, central place providing information on what to do.

The information was all out there somewhere but it was a case of visiting softplays, finding posters, looking at individual websites and Facebook pages and then piecing all the bits together and then finding out if the timings, and age ranges, fit or not.

I’m sure many of you would have experienced the same frustration and I hope in some small way I have helped make this easier.

After all the house move from SW London down the A3 is a fairly popular one as families look for more space and quality of life so this could be useful for more families moving to the area to refer to so they could see what was on that day, but also a way for those providing activities to new parents to be able to engage and get in contact with them and make them feel welcome.

Back in January 2015 I was clueless with a laptop and a vague but ambitious idea about how it should be really easy to just centralise all the information about whats going on locally for parents of Under 5’s on a single web page…

1. Really Easy?
–Absolutely Not.

2. A single web page?
–The Hersham Hub now has well over 500 pages.

3. A centralised place for information about whats going on locally for parents of Under 5’s?
–I think I’ll take that as a partial win but could, and will, do better. Standing still is effectively going backwards. And i never stand still (fear of queuing).

Anyway, that was my original ‘vision’ and I randomly chose to call it The Hersham Hub.

It was as simple as that and as you have all very publicly seen this has exploded into many directions and dimensions.

Most feedback received has been wonderful, encouraging and positive.

The Hersham Hub – ‘A single web page with a list’.

Yeah, that worked out well didn’t it?…we now have 50o live pages.

Our very supportive and amazing NCT friends, all with young babies of their own, thought it was a great idea and would be a really useful community resource and gave me loads of suggestions and ideas on how to develop it and make it benefit the local community, especially new families with young children.

One of the NCT Dad’s, Dave (a great friend to this day and, along with his wife Claire, two of the nicest people you will ever meet), even contributed a blog called ‘Daddy Dave Care’ for the website – if you never had the chance to read it I would highly recommend it: Daddy Dave Care

We are still, and always will be, so grateful for those who supported us on those extremely difficult first couple of months.

You know who you are and you have our eternal gratitude –  we wouldn’t still be here without you.

So despite feeling a bit nervous and amateurish and not really knowing what we were doing but with a feeling that this was a good thing to do, my wife and I spent quite a bit of our own money on a logo, website hosting and some coloured leaflets and posters.

We both took turns either staying at home looking after 1 year old Lucas and 3 year old Emilia or pounding the freezing cold and wet streets around Hersham in the cold, wintry and windy months of January and February 2015 – I’m still not sure who got the better deal!

You probably received our leaflets through your letterbox on those cold days.

I’ve looked up the Met Office report from the time we were out pounding the streets – I remember it well!

A yellow weather alert of snow and ice was extended across the region late on Tuesday.

The forecast, covering much of southern England, was for “showers of hail, sleet and snow on Tuesday evening and overnight… likely to leave a covering of snow of 3-6cm in places”, although the Met Office said the risk across the south east early on Wednesday morning was “lower”.

Wind and rain warnings for Wednesday afternoon into Thursday morning also cover the entire south east.

Wind speeds of 50-65mph are being forecast by the Met Office.

When I look back at the style and layout of the content I was publishing in early 2015 compared to what i am publishing now I am immensely proud at our professional, technical and design development but I am fully committed to continual improvement and will always try to make The Hersham Hub better, more relevant, more helpful and more informative in every way possible.

3 years on I’m amazed that it still takes up 90% of my spare time when I’m not working or looking after the kids.

Many people ask me if The Hersham Hub is my full time job, well it kind of is, but I also have an actual full time job!

A couple of years ago Emilia once asked me if we live in The Hersham Hub – it certainly feels that way sometimes!

I think I’m getting better at it.

Many say I’m getting worse.

Whilst both points of view may have their merits please do consider I don’t keep The Hersham Hub going for financial reward and don’t ask you for political votes, in fact I don’t ask anything of you and never will.

I will keep providing helpful, relevant and engaging content.

Our first venture into charity involvement…

…came when we heard about the Neo Natal Charity First Touch.

We were so touched and inspired by the story of Molly our daughter Emilia’s friend who she first met years ago at nursery.

Alice, Molly’s Mum:

“When Molly was born she was immediately placed in an incubator and whisked into neonatal intensive care in St Georges Hospital in Tooting.

She was placed on life support and required various drugs to keep her stable.

It took over 3 weeks before Molly was well enough to have surgery and it was so scary watching her being wheeled into theatre.

Molly’s recovery from surgery was amazing and she went from strength to strength. However, she did require numerous blood transfusions, blew a hole in her good lung, developed a hole in her heart and on Christmas Day was thought to have meningitus to top it all!

She finally went home after nearly 3 months in hospital and although has daily medication for her heart is now doing really well.

Spending time in intensive care watching your child battling for life is so tough. The equipment is expensive and the staff are amazing so please help us raise money for the intensive care unit.

First Touch is the charity that gives babies like Molly a chance to live. ”

They are the only charity dedicated to the neo-natal unit at St George’s and the money raised by their supporters goes directly to fund equipment and projects to improve outcomes for the babies and their families – its not just expensive specialist equipment they fund raise for but also little things like babies blankets and Christmas stockings.

You can read Molly’s full story here.

Despite not really knowing what I was doing I managed to somehow raise £230 for the amazing charity for the neo-natal unit at St George’s Hospital, First Touch, this was raised by my first ever Half Marathon – The Hampton Court Half.

I’m so happy to say that, despite going to different schools, Emilia and Molly are still great friends to this day, as are Alice, Stella, Beth and I (Stella more so as she definitely knows her football – only joking Alice, I love you too).

So next up I have this vaguely random idea, just for laughs (and to avoid any more running!), of a fantastically fun Great Hersham Bake Off Competition which we ran in the Hersham Hub Community Facebook Group and lasted for the entire length of the final Great British Bake Off series.

This competition had the amazing community support of local Councillors Mary Sheldon and Andrew Kelly, many local business owners including Jo Everritt-Taylor (Better Body Pilates), Emma Wells (Riverside Rebels), Naomi Burroughs (Naomi’s Bakehouse), Kayleigh May Thornton (Baby Sensory), Justine Turner (Harmes Turner Brown), Katie Barnham (who runs a great baking blog thinkingaboutcake) as well as cross party local election candidates Janet Shell (Liberal Democrats) and Olivia Palmer (The Green Partyour ultimate winner!) as well as a number of friendly, fun and community minded local residents who all greatly enjoyed the competition and generously contributed to a final total of £310 for the Walton and Hersham Foodbank.

Huge thanks also to Waitrose Hersham for their generous contribution of the winners prize of a bottle of champagne!

This was the final leaderboard:

Now on a roll and gaining confidence that we may actually be able to make a difference, we were ambitious enough to attempt the Brighton Marathon through which we raised an incredible £1,160 for Woking Sam Beare Hospice – we chose this charity after a hearing the sad news that the hospice had provided such amazing palliative support for the Mum of a friend of The Hersham Hub and local Hersham resident.

Behold the flash of orange!!

And finally I was fortunate enough to be part of an amazing team which ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon last October we raised over £3500 for Tommy’s  a charity that funds research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.

So anyway, back to the question in hand as to who we should support for our various running activities later this year…(alas no further Bake Off competitions as it would feel completely disloyal the wonderful Mary Berry)

Purely by coincidence there was an episode of the BBC One show Lifeline where Anita Dobson presents an appeal on behalf of Phab, a charity that brings together children and adults, with and without disabilities, to experience group activities, communal events and excursions.

The aim is to help them benefit from the social skills and self-confidence gained from the interaction with others.

Anita Dobson is one of the presidents of Phab following the loss of Ed Stewart who was president until he passed away in 2016 and Steve has previously met with both of them at an awards celebration at the House of Lords back in 2015 to see how he and Harmes Turner Brown as a company can help continue to support the charity.

At this point, and this is something I never thought I would say, I will handover to Anita Dobson via her appeal on BBC’s Lifeline this afternoon:

Here is a little about the charity themselves:

Every year Phab provides a challenging and exciting programme of ILX Residential Projects for children and young people who have disabilities or who are disadvantaged in some way.

Through the challenging and exciting activities on offer and the experience of being away from home and just having great fun together, the children build their self-esteem, confidence and independence and learn new practical, personal and social skills which all helps them when they go back home – along with some great memories and new friends made.

Most of the children and young people have physical, sensory or learning disabilities.  Some have complex needs requiring the support of a dedicated carer or two Phab volunteers.  Those disabilities can include cerebral palsy (including quadriplegic cerebral palsy), learning disabilities, social anxiety, global development delay, visual or hearing impairment, Downs Syndrome, autism, ADHD, Asperger’s, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, epilepsy, speech and language difficulties, scoliosis, arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, hydrocephalus and behavioural difficulties.

Phab is very fortunate to have the support of some amazing volunteers who give their time and effort not only during the weeks away, but also at the required training sessions and huge thanks goes out to every one of them! 

Steve and his company, Harmes turner Brown’s, passion about supporting this amazing charity really hit home with me and its not just an example of another Estate Agent throwing a few quid into a collection tin, tick a box, stick a logo on their website and satisfy their own conscience.

There is real action and commitment behind the words.

Steve has run the London Marathon twice (Once for Princess Alice Hospice and once for Phab), and has competed in the Prudential Ride 100 4 times in support of Phab.

Peter Brown (the ‘B’ of HTB) has also run the London Marathon in aid of Phab.

The Partners of Harmes Tuner Brown have personally visited the Phab centres in the past to see the work the volunteers put in to actively improve the children’s (& adults) lives.

This year alone Steve Turner is riding the Etape du tour (a mountain stage of the Tour de France ) for the 4th time raising money for Phab in addition to riding the tour of Cambridge & Velo South!

He is also working with Phab at the Virgin London Marathon expo in April & will be in the grandstand on London Marathon day to support all the Phab marathon runners.

Throughout the year Harmes Turner Brown have been doing Cake Sales, BMX Competitions, Colouring Competitions and more all in aid of this amazing charity.

The passion with which Steve Turner and his colleagues at Harmes Turner Brown support this amazing charity has absolutely convinced me that we should join forces with them and help promote Phab Kids as much as we can.

We’ve spoken to Janine Williams, the Challenge Events Manager at Phab Kids and she was kind enough to send over some examples of Thank You’s the charity have received recently – we have posted a couple below:

We are extremely grateful to you and your staff for ensuring that Charlotte had a great week at Bendrigg.

We are also completely astonished and delighted that she completed the whole week.

We are very keen that Charlotte is given another chance to go on a week’s experience at Bendrigg next year 2018. Rebecca and all the staff are a credit to their profession.

They are hard-working, caring and put the needs of the children before their own.

They are well led and well managed and Charlotte has benefitted enormously due to the excellent preparation, attention to detail and collective personal and professional skill of all staff.

We would like to convey our huge gratitude to everyone who is involved in the Phab project! (Parent)

“Many thanks for the photos and videos of Chris’ time at Avon Tyrell!  As always he had a great time and talked all the way home about what he’d done and new friends he’d made!!! 

He was so tired that he spent most of Saturday asleep recovering!!! Once again sincere thanks to you, Janine and all your volunteers.

You all do such a fantastic job ensuring that all the participants have a great time, and challenge themselves. It’s so refreshing that that you concentrate on how much people with disabilities CAN do, and not what they can’t.

It does wonders for their self-esteem and confidence. (Parent)”

My 17 year old son, Harry,  has had the most fantastic holiday at PHAB Avon Tyrell during this August 2017.  It was an action packed week with zip-wire, swimming, disco, assault course, amongst many other fun activities.  

The course leader, Janine Williams, and all the volunteers made my son feel immediately at home and welcome when we arrived, and inspired such confidence in us as parents.  

They listened carefully to what our son’s complex needs are (Down Syndrome and Autism) and to his personal care routine, making sure that he was so well looked after during his 6-night stay.  Some of the volunteers Harry already knew from his previous week at Avon Tyrell two years ago.  

The staff and volunteers also quickly introduced him to other children on the course, making him feel part of a group of friends, with whom he would share the fun activities.  When we collected him, we could see the bonds of friendship which he had made with others and the fun he had had.  Since he has been home we have also noticed how much more happy and independent he has become, e.g. making his bed and tucking his PJs under his pillow, amongst other things!

I cannot say enough about how important this PHAB week is in our son’s life and our life as a family.  To know that he is enjoying the same opportunities as other young people of his age, the chance to have fun-time away from home on an adventure week, independent of
his parents,  and to have the camaraderie of a supportive peer group and dedicated staff is just the most wonderful feeling for us.  

We, as parents, also had the luxury of nearly a week to ourselves, to rest, recharge our batteries, and get on with all the little jobs at home that we usually don’t have time for, as we are full-time carers for our son.  

We would like to thank all the staff and volunteers of PHAB for their hard work, kindness, dedication and wonderful sense of humour.” (Harrys Mum)

This afternoon I signed up for one of the Phab Kids charity places on the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

This extremely popular run is only open via a ballot and, as someone who was fortunate enough to do it last year, it is amazing!

Running past Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square as well as in and out of London’s most famous parks is an incredible experience (and you don’t have to commit to a full marathon and thousands of pounds of fundraising to experience it!).

If you are interested in a Phab Kids sponsored place on the Royal Parks Half you can find out more details here:


They also have spaces for the following extremely popular sporting events:




With your support Phab Kids can:

  • Organise our unique Phabkids residential experiences enabling children and adults with a range of disabilities to enjoy fun and challenging activities at accessible outdoor centres.
  • Support our network of 170 clubs across England and Wales for children and adults with around 8000 members.
  • Develop new clubs where we have identified the greatest need.
  • Provide both nationally and regionally a programme of social events, workshops and training, enabling all members to benefit from networking opportunities and mutual support.

You can read even more about the lat years Phabkids projects here.

Please do consider offering your support to this amazing charity.

Finally, thank you for reading and getting this far I know I went on a bit, thank you to Steve Turner and the incredible staff at Harmes Turner Brown for their tireless support of Phab Kids and thank you to Phab Kids for giving me another opportunity to run the amazing Royal Parks Half!

Now on to the Easter Holidays Activity Guide – it really is like painting the Severn Bridge sometimes!


If your business is active in the community and making life better for our local residents please do let me know – you deserve to be recognised.

Back to The Hersham Hub homepage

First Touch – Molly’s Story

Harmes Turner Brown – Walton on Thames Estate Agents

First Touch – Family Centre Care Coordinator

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