We speak to Suzi Mitchell, founder of Taylor Made Dreams in Crowborough, about the important work the charity undertakes
Suzi Mitchell is incredibly passionate about what she does. As the only employed member of staff at children’s charity Taylor Made Dreams – accompanied by a handful of dedicated and valued volunteers – she invests her time and energy in helping young people with life-threatening illnesses achieve their dreams.
“I feel extremely privileged to do what I do,” Suzi tells us. “It’s a healing and rewarding experience working with these families, and it’s a beautiful thing to see Taylor’s legacy bring so much joy.”
In 2008, Taylor Mitchell, aged just 11, was diagnosed with a condition that changed his and his family’s world forever. After four years of fighting, they were informed that the prognosis was terminal, and that he had just two years to live.
Taylor made his own bucket list, and when two friends of the family, Julie Little and Trudy Yardley, heard of it, they began to raise valuable funds to help make it happen. It was while they were fulfilling Taylor’s wishes that Suzi made the decision to set up Taylor Made Dreams, with the goal of doing the same for other children with life-limiting illnesses.
“We’re very lucky to have the support we’ve had so far,” she remarks. “It’s thanks to this that we’ve been able to assist children with establishing and fulfilling a bucket list, provide holistic therapy and counselling to families, offer sheepskin fleeces to help prevent bed sores, commission family portraits, and provide silver, engraved dragonflies to those who devastatingly lose their child.”
The locally-based luxury children’s clothing company, Childrensalon, are one of the main sponsors of the charity. At the inaugural Crazy Jean’s Race in 2018, they made the introduction between Taylor Made Dreams and the Crazy Jean’s Events.
“Crazy Jean’s seemed like the perfect match,” says Suzi. “Having attended the event, I saw what a great, family-orientated day it was. It’s the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of what we do. Although we work across Kent, Sussex and Surrey, we’re a very small operation, and getting the word out about what we do is of the upmost importance.”
Since the very beginning, British comedian John Bishop has been patron of the charity, after he acquired a place on Taylor’s own bucket list.
“John was wonderful with Taylor,” Suzi recalls. “He arranged for him to have a box at his show, and when I told him that his brothers hadn’t joined us, he sent his chauffeur to collect them and bring them to the performance.
“When Taylor passed, I wrote to him asking if he would consider taking on patronage of the charity, and he did. He’s let us collect donations at his shows in Brighton, and he talks about Taylor and the work of the charity during his sets.”
The charity relies heavily on corporate sponsors and public figures. Taylor Made Dreams has been supported by Pure Print since the beginning, been chosen as ‘Charity of the Year’ for Sainsbury’s on Linden Park Road in Tunbridge Wells, and has worked with AXA PPP, CooperBurnett Solicitors and Fidelity International, as well as household names like Rosemary Shrager and David Walliams.
“We’re always looking for corporate partners,” adds Suzi. “Having a guaranteed monthly income means we can effectively allocate funds, and continue doing the important work that we do.”
But out of all the families they help, is there one particular moment that has always stuck with Suzi?
“I remember once meeting a young boy, aged seven, to ask what he’d like on his bucket list,” she responds. “He looked up at his mum and said, ‘We don’t need anything, do we, mum?’. After a gentle chat, the little boy asked for some green olives and white chocolate buttons.”
Now, to remind her of a child’s innocence, Suzi keeps two jars of green olives on her desk.
If you’re interested in volunteering or becoming a corporate sponsor for Taylor Made Dreams, you can contact Suzi Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org,or by calling 01892 655 533.