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Tracy Claridge’s legacy lives on through Catching Lives fundraising 

Tracy receiving a Kent Association of Local Councils (KACL) award in 2020 for services to Benenden village

Funds are being raised for Catching Lives thanks to the legacy of a former volunteer and avid supporter of the charity. 

Tracy Claridge, who sadly died in 2022, first volunteered at the day centre one Christmas Day before helping with our night shelters. 

Tracy, a sommelier who lived in Cranbrook, found creative ways to fundraise through his vast networks such as the rugby club, local churches and pubs. 

The next event to raise money for Catching Lives in memory of Tracy will be donations to ride the bucking bronco at the 20th Cranbrook Apple Fayre, a family event in Cranbrook High Street on Saturday 7 October.  

Stuart Cleary, event organiser and close friend of Tracy, said: “Hopefully we will have a constant stream of people willing to make a fool of themselves in aid of a great charity. 

“The event will be a last hurrah before Winter kicks in. It’s October, the apples are in. There will be lots of food and cider. There will be a real carnival atmosphere.” 

The apple fayre promises pagan celebration and has a different theme each year. This year the theme is 1970s Spain and entertainment will include a Spanish flamenco dancer and jazz bands. Spanish food will be on offer. 

In the spirit of Tracy’s sense of adventure, runners and wheelbarrows with foam-covered bullhorns will also replicate the running of the bulls in Pamplona. 

Stuart added: “Tracy was constantly thinking of ways to do charity with a big chunk of fun. As a 6ft 4 rugby player, he was a larger-than-life character. No matter how hard you tried you just couldn’t help but love him. He was just one of those guys. 

“Catching Lives is just such a good Kentish charity with the very best intentions proving that people can get back on track with a bit of help.” 

For further information search Cranbrook Apple Fayre on Facebook

Any funds raised will go towards a wider campaign by Benenden community and St George’s Church, where Tracy was a church warden, to raise £15,000 a year in his memory towards specialist mental health support at Catching Lives. 

Paul Hewitt, a friend of Tracy’s who is also a kitchen volunteer at Catching Lives, said: “The fundraising campaign is a way of the community showing its appreciation for everything Tracy did and stood for. 

“The idea of fundraising for a mental health professional resonated immediately as Tracy had experienced and overcome his own mental health issues.” 

Fundraising events have included London Christmas Lunch for ‘wine trade mates’, the Benenden Fireworks Fund, wine tasting, takings on the gate of the Benenden Fete 2022 and 2023, a concert at Benenden Girls School, a tennis tournament, St George’s Church Charity Fund and a ghost story telling evening in the pub. 

The community’s efforts raised an incredible £13,700 for Catching Lives in 2022 and £4,400 so far in 2023. 

Not only this, but for many years, the Benenden community collected donations including clothes, sleeping bags and rucksacks for Catching Lives. 

Tracy was first introduced to Catching Lives by his friend Gerald Duff, father of James Duff, Trustee of Catching Lives, who also very sadly passed away in 2022. 

Paul added: “Tracy supported many causes and was driven to fight against what he saw as social injustice. He felt passionately that homelessness was a huge social injustice and the personal connection through Gerald and James made him even more passionate in his support.” 

Tasmin Maitland, Chief Executive, said: “Catching Lives is so grateful to the Benenden and Cranbrook community for their determined efforts to raise money for our charity in Tracy Claridge’s memory. Tracy was such a well-loved member of the community and it’s wonderful for his legacy to be continued in this way. Mental health support is a vital service offered at Catching Lives and £15,000 will go a long way in providing this to our clients.” 

If your community would like to raise money for Catching Lives, please get in touch via press@catchinglives.org. You can donate to Catching Lives via our JustGiving page. Thank you for your support.

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