A FUNDRAISER for the Friends of West Dorset Women’s Refuge has been hailed a success.

More than 100 people went along to the cabaret and cake afternoon at Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis last Sunday (November 25), and raised hundreds of pounds for the charity.

The friends aim to raise funds to support the women and children living in a local refuge and provide them with festive food, as well as basic necessities such as bedding, towels and toiletries.

Margie Barbour, treasurer of the friends committee, said: “We were delighted at the turnout for the occasion – over £600 was raised and the presents for the families and hugely useful household items overwhelmed us.”

Actress Hermione Norris, of Coldfeet and the crime thriller series Innocent, read poems and an extract from the novel, Handmaid’s Tale.

The audience were also entertained by local musicians, Hazel Williams, Julie Newall and Rene Wyndham.

Tee Francis also read to of her own poems reflecting both the dark and lighter side of being female.

As a finale to the performances, Katie Bielec, You First service manager, spoke about the work of You First as a front line agency tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence, and the role of supporting women and children escaping from abusive partners.

Amanda Streatfield, chair of the friends group, emphasized how important this support work is during the Christmas period, which can be a stressful time for families with very little.

She said: “Being able to give presents to each other, donated and provided by the generosity of local people, makes all the difference and enables mums and their children to have some of the Christmas treats which so many of us take for granted.”

The Friends of West Dorset Women’s Refuge is sponsoring a tree during the Christmas tree festival in the United Church from December 4 to 16, where cash donations can be given.

For more information or to donate, email friendsofwestdorsetrefuge@gmail.com