Windy end to 28 years of Chippenham charity sales
Charity stalwart Margaret Spackman held her last ever plant sale at the weekend after nearly 30 years of fundraising.
Grandmother Mrs Spackman, 72, has raised thousands of pounds for charities over the years but is having to call it a day because of rheumatism and asthma.
But she said the last sale, held at the weekend, was her worst ever.
She said: “What a disaster. The wind ripped the tent to pieces and all the gazebos were blown away.
“What with road accidents around Chippenham and Japfest, the traffic was so backed up it took some people 45 minutes to get here from other parts of Chippenham.”
Many visitors did battle through the traffic jams and Mrs Spackman opened again on Sunday despite the lack of tents, after cramming all the plants into her summer house.
But she still has a lot of plants left, including shrubs and hanging baskets, which she will continue to sell from her home at 6 Mount Pleasant, Bristol Road.
She said: “I wanted to go out with a bang and I did, but not the right sort of one. I am sad about it because I shall miss it.
“Thanks to all my brave helpers and all those who donated raffle prizes and plants, nearly 1,000 this year.”
The event takes much of the year to organise and Mrs Spackman starts writing to ask for raffle prizes seven months beforehand.
She worked as a seamstress at Chippenham Community Hospital and started the sale at a hospital fete in 1986.
She said: “I was amazed what I got when I asked around. I made £325 that first year, which then was an absolute fortune.”
The sale later moved to the Bridge Centre, but because of the rent she moved the event to her own back garden in 2000.
Her sales have benefited the Bobby Van Trust, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Dorothy House, as well as her own disabled charity Pins and Needles.
She said: “I’ve made a few thousand over the years.
"The things I am most proud of are getting a special seat to lower disabled people into the swimming pool, and getting a seat fitted into a young lad’s car to let him move between his car and wheelchair.
“And there was a 19-year-old lad who uses a wheelchair and works in a lab in Bath. The money paid for a specialist frame that meant he could stand up on his own in the lab for the first time.”