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Fundraising group celebrates legacy of Jamaican aid

PROVIDING SUPPORT: Erma Lewis

WITH MORE than 20 years providing support, materials, aid and training to under-resourced areas all over the world, the Jamaica Hospital Appeal Fund (JHAF) will be moving into its third decade in the same vein.

It will be using its annual fundraising ball to offer support to a young Jamaican man who has been left paralysed.

INJURED

The event will take place at The H Suite in Edgbaston, Birmingham on September 21. Dean Reid, who lives in Buff Bay, Jamaica, was brought to the attention of Birmingham resident Erma Lewis, JHAF founder, during a recent trip to the Carribean.

Lewis told The Voice: “During my visit in November, Dean was badly injured in a hit
and run collision and was in need of motorised wheelchair. I was contacted by the Mayor of Portland to see if we could help him.

“My trustees and my- self discussed his situation and the best way forward. We made
contact with the Food for the Poor, organisation which has dealings with mobility companies in America, and a motorised chair will be provided for him.”

JHAF was established in April 1998 just weeks after Lewis witnessed the loss of life and destruction caused by the ood which hit her birth town of Portland, Jamaica.

Three years later, a car accident prompted her departure from nursing and she reveals that working with the recipients of JHAF’s generosity aren’t the only ones bene ting: “I used to be admitted to hospital at least three or four times a year before I started the charity but was hardly ever there after starting it!


Erma with one of her first awards, a Recognition of Achievement prize from Birmingham City Council, which she received in 2002

“There is much more happiness in giving to others than receiving things for yourself. When I see the happy faces of the people when we donate the items to them, it makes all of this worthwhile.”

IMPRESSIVE

Lewis and the JHAF’s achievements include donations of clothing, books, toys, furniture to medical equipment, wheelchairs and sewing machines totalling an estimated £3 million. She has garnered an impressive array of commendations and awards over the years.

These include a Woman of the Year award from the city newspaper in her adopted hometown, and a Recognition of Achievement prize from Birmingham City Council and the BBC.

Celebrity support has also come in from Lewis’ sporting namesakes: Lennox Lewis, former world heavyweight boxing champion, and 2000 Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis have donated autographed wares such as boxing gloves and posters, which were auctioned to raise funds for JHAF.

At the time of writing, Lewis was invited by the Honourable Dr Christopher Tufton, the Minister of Health, to the official opening of the Cardiac Centre, Bustamante Hospital for Children, the first of its kind. Lewis and JHAF helped raise thousands of pounds towards.

She concluded: “It is a pity I will not be able to go because of scheduling conflicts – I was over there very recently. We graciously accept the honour and will send a local representative to the reception.”

For more on the JHAF visit ermashospitalfund.org.uk and for tickets and other information about the fundraising ball, email erma.lewis@btopenworld.co.uk.

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