Chatty Hatter MD Nicole Piesse Turner reveals her personal connection to the local Crazy Jean’s charity…

On Saturday June 8, we’ll once again be cheering on a selection of local businesses as they race through the beautifully scenic Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells for the second Crazy Jeans soapbox race! But while family fun in the sunshine is certainly at the heart of the big day, it’s also an opportunity to raise vital funds for two local causes that are close to our hearts at Chatty Hatter.

In particular, our fearless leader and managing director Nicole Piesse Turner’s connection to Hospice in the Weald – which joins Taylor Made Dreams as a joint nominated charity – is one of huge personal importance. In 2013, Nicole’s father-in-law Robert Turner was admitted to the In-Patient Ward at the Pembury-based healthcare facility.

“After the tremendous care they took of him, I knew that I wanted to fundraise, so my then-husband and I ran a half-marathon in his memory,” she says. “Since then, I’ve seen many people I know be touched by the Hospice, and the invaluable care and support that they offer to families – as a result, I’ve been inspired to continue fundraising.”

Sadly, her father-in-law wasn’t the only person in Nicole’s life to be affected by a terminal illness. Robert Spurgeon, a dear friend since childhood, was admitted to the Hospice battling lung cancer not long after Robert in 2018, where he would spend the last few weeks of his life.

“I’d known Robert since I was 17,” continues Nicole. “In our youth, we’d dance the night away; he had a huge passion for life and fun, and was always the life and soul of any party.

“While at the Hospice, Robert got to have his two dear dogs at his side, and his family and friends were able to spend quality time with him. He spent his time listening to the music that we, his friends, had put together for him. He was very much at peace when he passed away.”

Later that year, Nicole would regrettably return once more with her brother and sister, with plans to move their own father Michael into the Hospice. Following a number of operations to combat a severe illness, however, Michael would ultimately pass away peacefully in his own home – but the care and assistance experienced by Nicole and her siblings nonetheless made an enduring impact.

“He’d been very ill for some time, and became very weak,” Nicole reflects. “He was in and out of hospital, and my family and I were trying to get him moved to the Hospice. However, our father always liked to do things on his own terms, and true to type, he passed away surrounded by family, an hour before we were due to go to the Hospice.

“Dad never got to experience the Hospice like Robert and Robert; he would have adored the beautiful surroundings and friendly staff, and always loved to make people laugh – he was a total chatterbox!”

Having seen the difference that the Hospice made to her loved ones first-hand, there was no question in Nicole’s mind as to who she should choose as a Crazy Jean’s beneficiary. The event itself, which last year welcomed 6,000 spectators and 40 karts – raising a grand total of £21,000 – is likewise held in honour of co-founder Garry Jeffery’s mother Jean, who passed away in 2016.

Now, as we prepare to start our engines for an even bigger, better and crazier race day than before, Nicole, Garry and the whole Chatty team remain forever grateful to the Hospice for the tireless work that they do, and the substantial difference that they continue to make in celebrating life and dignifying death.

“The Hospice supports so many families, and we’re so lucky to have one in our hometown,” concludes Nicole. “Anyone who’s been touched by terminal illness, or seen the trauma that it can cause to families and friends, knows that the support that the Hospice gives before and after the awful event of a loved one dying is just amazing – and without our support, they wouldn’t be able to do it.”

To book your tickets for Crazy Jean’s 2019 on Saturday June 8, click here.