The annual Alresford Watercress Festival held in May saw a record crowd of 20,000 people attending which was reflected in the record donation given to the festival’s chosen charity Abby’s Heroes.

Chief executive Sally Randall, who founded the charity in memory of her daughter Abby, was last week presented with a cheque for £4,436.19.

Pictured with Sally, from left, are Watercress Association member Simon Lawes of Sun Salads Ltd, a subsidiary of Nature’s Way Food; Watercress Festival committee chair John Cattle; Watercress Association member Tom Amery, the managing director of The Watercress Company; and Simon Evans, a member of the Watercress Festival committee.

Abby’s Heroes is a Southampton charity supporting children, teenagers and young adults, and their families, when they are diagnosed with cancer and throughout treatment.

It provides financial help to get families through difficult times when jobs may have to be put on hold in order for parents to care for a sick child, and grants to help families enjoy days out to help create memories they will treasure.

Abby’s Heroes volunteers collected donations from the crowd in exchange for fresh watercress, while celebrity chef Mark Hix auctioned off portions of watercress dishes he prepared on stage to the audience to raise further funds.

Sally said: “We are over the moon to receive this fantastic donation following the Alresford Watercress Festival. It is such an amazing day and our Purple Army of volunteers absolutely loved being there. 

“We are delighted this money will be used to support some very special children and their families across Hampshire and the south coast. We are a small local charity, and this will make an enormous difference. Thank you so much to everyone who came along and donated so generously.”  

Event and market manager Claire May said: “The army of purple-clad volunteers cheerfully collecting donations in exchange for watercress is a wonderful sight on festival day – volunteers from all walks of life, raising much-needed funds to support families whose children have cancer.”

Next year’s festival is on Sunday, May 19, 2024.