Budleigh charity girl upset by festive event snub

PUBLISHED: 10:00 16 November 2015

Millie Lewis. Ref exb 6349-46-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Millie Lewis. Ref exb 6349-46-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

A disgruntled teenager banned from raising charity funds at Budleigh Salterton’s late-night Christmas shopping has hit out at the ‘Scrooge’ chamber of commerce.

Millie Lewis, 14, of South Parade, wanted to hold a cake stall with the Second Budleigh Salterton girl guides as part of the annual festive event.

However, the chamber of commerce has said that if it allows in one fundraiser, it will have to let in all charity events on the night.

Chamber of commerce chairman Christine Bentley said: “Late-night shopping was introduced many years ago for the members of the Budleigh Salterton and District Chamber of Commerce to be able to say thank-you to all their customers who have supported them in the past and, hopefully, will continue to do so.

“While we have every empathy for charitable causes and give to a number of charities throughout the year, this is one night of the year and we wish to keep for its original purpose.

“We have suggested to charity raisers - and every year we have a number of approaches - that gala week is all about charity and perhaps that would be a better time in which to raise funds.”

The Exmouth Community College pupil, who knows people who suffer with cancer, was hoping to raise money for Children’s Hospice South West.

Now, Millie has been left disappointed after her efforts to raise funds for the children’s charity have been snubbed.

In an open letter to the town, she said she had lived in Budleigh Salterton since she was born and being in the girl guides had ‘opened her eyes’ to the ‘bigger picture’.

She said: “I have been fortunate enough to go through Budleigh brownies since the age of eight and have just completed my Baden Powell Award in girl guides.

“It has made me truly realise the perfect bubble in which we live, in comparison to the less-fortunate population.

“I attempt to put charity first, and do all I can, including putting together Christmas shoeboxes each year, to send to children who won’t have endless gifts to open and plates of dinner to eat.

“I was thoroughly disappointed to realise the narrow-minded community I so loved wouldn’t accept a local organisation, Girl Guides, to raise money to help others.

“As a guide, raising money to donate to the less fortunate is the focus of my guiding morals.

“Therefore, I was appalled to find myself being declined in my own lifelong, well-trusted community of Budleigh Salterton.

“All I was asking for was a cake table - which I don’t believe would affect the hardworking traders at all. I was told that if one charity came, they all would. But, to my young knowledge, charity should be unconditional.”

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