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60th Birthday Party With A Difference Raises Funds for the Ark

We always feel very honoured when people ask their friends and relatives to support us instead of receiving presents at special occasions.

Even in these times of social distancing, people are finding innovative ways to celebrate their special event online, and we are greatly humbled by the generosity of their guests.

Former Shrewsbury resident Amelia Hanratty initially wasn’t going to have a party to celebrate her 60th birthday. But after giving it some thought, she decided her birthday celebration could be a fundraising event for two charities close to her heart – us and the Many Tears Animal Rescue, based in Wales.

“I chose the Ark because even though I live in Chippenham now, I still love the town I grew up in, and the Ark does amazing work,” explains Amelia. “It seems all the more relevant now – everyone has a home to isolate in but what happens if you haven’t got a home?”

Last year, Amelia set the date for 28 March 2020, booked a venue and created a Justgiving fundraising page for her friends and family to donate online before the big day. She also planned for money to be raised at the event itself by sourcing some prizes for a raffle. Friends from Bali, Holland, Scotland, Abu Dhabi and Ireland booked their flights and people from all over Britain confirmed they’d join her in Chippenham to celebrate her milestone birthday.

“As the world began to lockdown, we soon realised it just wasn’t going to happen,” says Amelia. “I’d spent months planning this event; I had photos of every single one of my 120 friends and family who were coming, had made some amazing decorations and everyone had contributed to the music playlist.” Undeterred, Amelia took the event online.

“On 28 March, I decorated our house, and everyone was instructed to wear a sparkly top – because it was time to sparkle!” says Amelia. “We didn’t quite get 120 people joining us in the Houseparty, but we did have fun dressing up in our sparkles and seeing people online. Plus, we raised over £700 to be split between my two charities. A huge thank you to my friends and family for their generosity.”

Amelia says she is already planning to hold a 61st birthday party next year, so friends and relatives will be able to catch up in person. She is also keeping the justgiving page going until after next years party for further donations.

Karen Higgins, Chair said: "It is quite incredible that people continue to think of our charity in such challenging times for everyone. Our staff, like all care staff at the moment are working above and beyond to support very vulnerable people and the thoughtful gestures of people like Amelia mean far more than financial resilience, it boosts the morale of of our team to know that they have so many wonderful supporters. Thank you!"

We also thank all the friends and relatives who donated to Amelia’s Houseparty, and the many other individuals and organisations who have made financial donations to us over the past few weeks. Like many other charities, we are stretching resources to ensure we can continue to support the vulnerable in these challenging times.

Our amazing staff and volunteers, along with the Prince Rupert Hotel, other accommodation providers, Shropshire Council and other support agencies, are now providing a very comprehensive 24-hour residential service, as well as continuing with outreach services.

We strongly encourage any business or organisation which may have an excess of personal protective equipment (PPE) to contact the Council’s PPE coordinator via It particularly needs gloves, aprons or goggles.

Council will then distribute to us and other social care providers, to ensure all our key workers who are providing support and care are properly protected. As a reminder, for the safety of our staff and volunteers, and the wider public, The Ark Shop will remain closed until it is safe to open.

Due to sanitation reasons, we are unable to accept donated items at this time.


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