Couple raise £100k to aid Craig

PUBLISHED: 16:11 07 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:59 03 March 2010

CHAMPION fundraisers Pete and Kath Holden are celebrating a magnificent milestone after raising £100,000 to help their grandson and other haemophilia sufferers.

CHAMPION fundraisers Pete and Kath Holden are celebrating a magnificent milestone after raising £100,000 to help their grandson and other haemophilia sufferers.

When the couple held a country and western dance in 1983 in Woodbridge Community Hall, they had no idea that the event would be the catalyst for the fund-raising phenomenon.

All the 150 tickets were sold and there was so much support from the town that Mr and Mrs Holden decided to hold a regular dance. The theme has changed to 60's music and the venue will be Woodbridge Town Football Club next year but the same loyal band of supporters and the organising committee turns out month after month to raise money for the Haemophilia Society.

The elderly couple, who live next to the redundant Melton Grange Hotel, decided in 1983 to raise money after grandson, Craig Holden, was diagnosed with the blood disorder.

"He was born with severe haemophilia but we did not know about it until he was 18 months to two years old. He had a bruise on his rib cage and doctors tested him for things including leukaemia but it turned out to be haemophilia," recalled Mr Holden, 79, a former electrician at Woodbridge air base.

Craig, who was living in Barton Road, Woodbridge, and is now in Bredfield, had frequent trips to Essex County Hospital, Colchester, and to Whitechapel Hospital, London for treatment. He still has injections of a coagulant substance known as Factor 8 to clot his blood.

The danger of excessive bleeding has been ever present and this has prevented Craig, now 20 and studying at Suffolk College, from taking part in physical contact sports. But the Ipswich Town supporter is very fit and although there is no known cure for the blood disorder he can look forward to a long life.

There are 10,000 registered haemophiliacs – there were half that number when the Holden family started the fund raising campaign – and they have benefited from the money raised in Woodbridge. The donations have helped with research and treatment, the purchase of equipment and upkeep of special homes where sufferers take holidays.

Mrs Holden, 76, said: ''We mainly get people aged 40-plus coming to the dances. They are such a lovely crowd and we do appreciate all their support.

''We started late in life with the fund raising. We never had an idea about how to go about it, but then it grew on us and we have had a lot of good times and laughs.

''I can recall when we reached £50,000 and Pete said it would be wonderful to get to £100,000 and I thought we would never be able to do that.''

The Haemophilia Society, a small charity, is so pleased with all the efforts of the family and supporters that in 1996 Mr and Mrs Holden were honoured as the top fund raisers in the society.

Mr and Mrs Holden paid tribute to their committee of Paul and June Holden, Richard and Sue Edwards and Pat Payne for their support and tomorrow the latest cheque will be presented to the society, taking the total raised to £101,000.

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