Bumper fundraising effort in Swanage to get #Willdoes bus on the road

A launch date in early 2022 has been set for a mobile youth centre based in Swanage, that’s been converted from a double decker bus, thanks to the local charity #Willdoes.

The charity that supports young people and their wellbeing was founded in 2019 by Lesley Paddy after the tragic death of her 14 year old son Will.


It has now raised more than £60,000 to buy the double decker and to completely refurbish it into a community bus for young people.

While it will be based in Swanage, the idea is that it can travel across Dorset helping as many young people as possible.

Willdoes bus

The design for the #Willdoes Bus

In August 2021 Lesley and the charities trustees, Julie Dyball and Jane Mumford, went to see the bus as it starts its journey to becoming the #Willdoes Community Bus for young people.

In August 2021 Lesley and the charities trustees, Julie Dyball and Jane Mumford, went to see the bus before it was refitted

The double decker bus has been completely transformed

The bus has just finished being completely transformed and will offer a safe warm space for young people to meet with each other as well as youth workers, counsellors and medical professionals.

The charity, which is working closely with Dorset Council, is hoping to launch it in February 2022, once all the staffing arrangements are in place.

A number of large charity events including golf days, 10k walks, tractor runs and equestrian events have raised significant amounts of money but there’s also been lots of smaller events that have all added up.

During the Covid pandemic holding charity events has become difficult, but not to be defeated, people in Swanage have come up with ingenious ways to raise money for #Willdoes.

Will Paddy

Will Paddy who died when he was just 14 – the inspiration behind the #Willdoes charity

Bring and buy stall outside a house
Sarah Brookes

Sarah Brookes opened her Swanage front garden for a bring and buy sale

“Such a smashing idea

Local resident Sarah Brookes decided to hold a bring and buy sale in her front garden on Kings Road West. It started off as just a small idea in spring 2021 to raise a bit of money but ballooned into a major enterprise. Sarah said:

“I felt that the bus was such a smashing idea that I wanted to do something to help.

“I asked people to donate items including unwanted books and dvds. But silly me, I hadn’t realised that the charity shops were still closed due to Covid restrictions and with so many people with time on their hands, I was absolutely overwhelmed!

“I had some really good quality items donated like bikes and garden furniture and ended up making £3,000 from other people’s junk – just amazing!”

Sarah’s son Marek chipped in as well, raising £80 by playing the piano in Harry Ramsdens for people eating their fish and chips.

Hilary Thraves Tea party fundraiser for the charity Willdoes

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary member and chair of the youth committee Hilary Thraves

Tea party fundraiser for the charity Willdoes

Enjoying a fundraising tea party (left to right) Lesley Paddy, Swanage and Purbeck Rotary President for 2021 Deidre Selwyn, Hilary Thraves, Jenny Hynan, Sarah Brookes and Marek

“The charity touched my heart

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary member and chair of the youth committee Hilary Thraves came up with the idea of hosting ‘cuppacake’ tea parties in her beautiful garden. Hilary said:

“The charity touched my heart and I knew I wanted to help but it was difficult with so many restrictions.

“You couldn’t meet with people outside your bubble in your house but small gatherings outside were allowed, so I invited friends to drink tea and eat cake in my garden over the summer.

“After a winter of lockdown it made me realise just how much I had missed socialising and it really was a great boost.

“The idea took off and some of those who had come to my garden hosted their own tea parties and it all added to the funds.”

The tea parties raised £1,200 and Swanage and Purbeck Rotary topped up the amount making a total donation of £1,500.

Hilary Thraves, Lesley Paddy and Chris LeFevre hand over cheque for Willdoes

Hilary Thraves hands over the cheque to Lesley Paddy, with new president of Swanage and Purbeck Rotary for 2022 Chris LeFevre

Tea party fundraiser for the charity Willdoes

The quality of the cakes helped raise more money

Another son taken at a young age

A further £3,000 was raised by the outdoor concert in memory of Henry Searle at Prince Albert Gardens.

The musical event that took place in September 2021 was a tribute to local man Henry Searle who sadly died from a brain tumour – another son taken at a young age.

concert in memory of Henry Searle

The concert in memory of Henry Searle raised a fantastic amount for #Willdoes

“So fantastic over such a difficult period”

#Willdoes founder, Lesley Paddy said:

“I’m so grateful to everyone who’s raised money for the charity and all those who’ve helped take the idea of a mobile youth centre and turn it into the Willdoes double decker bus. It has so much potential to really help young people.

“When I first saw the back seats on the top deck, I just knew that it would make a great space where they could come and talk about any worries. I remember, it’s always the place where you would chat with your friends on the way home from school.

“It’s been made possible by some very generous donations and grants, but also by some amazing fundraising – it’s been so fantastic over such a difficult period.”

It’s expected that the #Willdoes bus will be officially launched in February 2022 and will be based in the Main Beach car park off Victoria Road in Swanage, next to the skate park.

#Willdoes is still raising funds to cover the running costs of the bus and to support other projects.

Further information

More about the charity #Willdoes and information on how to donate is on its website

Share this story

Contact us

Do you have anything to add to this story?

We like to keep everything up-to-date, so if you know more, please help us by getting in touch.


Top stories

Locals aim for global success in Swanage pub takeover A group of Swanage friends who liked their local pub so much that they bought the tenancy are ready to return the Globe to its former glory. 2 weeks ago New funfair ride divides Swanage community 3 weeks ago Swanage fun park ride removed after controversy 3 weeks ago Man in Swanage has jaw broken in violent assault 1 month ago Miracle as school pupil survives 60 foot fall from Old Harry 1 month ago

Most recent

Swanage skatepark campaign hits first target The generosity of Purbeck residents has helped Swanage Skatepark Community Project achieve its first £20,000 funding target. 7 hours ago Swanage to give Blues music legend fitting send off 1 day ago Secrets of Purbeck’s smuggling past revealed in new book 2 days ago Flying the flag in Swanage for Coastwatch life savers 3 days ago Purbeck bans sale of new build properties as second homes 4 days ago