Long-term resident of Marine Court and lifelong charity fundraiser Daphne “Snowy” Snowden says she is ‘proud as a peacock’ to have been presented with her British Empire Medal, after being named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. She was awarded the medal for services to charity and the community in Littlehampton, where The Fire Fighters Charity’s Marine Court is based.
During Wednesday’s investiture ceremony, her ‘prolific, enthusiastic and unstoppable’ efforts were praised by Deputy Lieutenant Margaret Bamford: “This is a fitting honour that Snowy richly deserves, and will be warmly welcomed throughout the community,” she says.
Mrs Bamford read out Snowy’s honours citation, in which her lifetime of achievements and charity contributions were shared. First becoming a poppy appeal collector when she was 11, Snowy has been fundraising for charity in 1952. Since then she has braved all weathers and becoming a wheelchair user aged 38 to raise in excess of £140,000 for the British Legion. Having married a firefighter in 1969, she became a fierce supporter of The Fire Fighters Charity who she also raises money for, moving into one of the flats at Marine Court when Leonard died in 1994, where she has remained ever since.
Surrounded by both friends who have supported her and representatives from the charities she supports – including The Fire Fighters Charity – Snowy was presented with her medal by Vice Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Harry Goring, on behalf of the Queen.
“Without knowing, you’ve been teaching people the joy of giving. We all need somebody to do that.”
Addressing the assembled audience, Mr Goring described the ‘amazing gift’ he has learned of through what people have said about Snowy: “Without knowing, you’ve been teaching people the joy of giving,” he says. “We all need somebody to teach that joy, and you’ve filled that role.”
While she is grateful for the honour, and the way her flat now ‘looks like a flower shop’ thanks to all of the bouquets she has received, Snowy admits it took a little while for the news to set in: “When the letter first came, I thought I was going to the Tower; it was so formal, all in black, it gave me a fright! When I calmed down, I took it to a friend because I thought they had me muddled up, but no. I have been proud as a peacock, which is my family crest, and I am terribly proud to be given this award. I shall wear it with great pride, because it represents the kindness of a lot of people here in Littlehampton, where I am very proud to live.”
It is clear the wish to support charity is in Snowy’s blood; alongside her new medal, proudly adorning her chest are numerous pins sharing fundraising achievements for the British Legion and Armed Forces Veterans Charity, and on the back of her mobility scooter are two Blaze bears, our Charity mascot.
We ask Snowy where she has found the energy to keep fundraising all these years, despite personal tragedies and issues with her health: “I see it as my duty,” she says. “It’s not been the easiest road, but you just never stop. If I’m free and I can get out, I will. It’s much better than sitting around indoors moping, you have to get on with life. But I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it so much.”
As the wife of a firefighter, the idea of duty is a familiar one to Snowy. She says while her husband was out saving lives, it was her responsibility to ensure he always came home to a hot teapot: “We both had jobs to get on with; his was looking after others and mine was looking after him. I know he’s proud of me for today. He’s here with me, I know he is.”
“People like Snowy are the lifeblood of our Charity and we have a lot to thank them for.”
Dr Jill Tolfrey
Alongside all of the well-wishers congratulating Snowy were Fire Fighters Charity Chief Executive Dr Jill Tolfrey and Charity Chair Andrew Lynch.
“People like Snowy are the lifeblood of our Charity and we have a lot to thank them for,” says Jill. “We’ve known her for many years, and are delighted to see her recognised in this way.”
“Today is a wonderful recognition of a lifetime of work supporting charities,” says Andrew. “It’s clear just how much of an active and influential role she plays in her local community. We’re absolutely thrilled to be here to attend her investiture on behalf of the Charity and the Board of Trustees.”
When we ask Snowy what The Fire Fighters Charity means to her, she says this can be summed up in one simple word: home. “The Fire Fighters Charity came to my rescue when I needed them,” she says. “To feel I am among fire fighters will always mean I feel I am home.”
“To feel I am among fire fighters will always mean I feel I am home.”