The charity work of Denise Robertson continues to live on through a fund set up by a man whose life was transformed thanks to the agony aunt’s kindness.
The broadcaster and author, who was born in Sunderland and lived in East Boldon, died in March 2016 from pancreatic cancer.
The charity efforts of the ITV This Morning regular are still flourishing thanks to the fundraising roots firmly in her home city.
Lisa Seferi, who owns Pure Bliss beauty spa in Sea Road, Fulwell, was recently invited by the show to travel to Uganda with the team to revisit Fred Ssemmanda, who Denise had found on a trip with World Vision in 2004.
Denise had found orphaned brothers, Fred and Emmanuel, living in a mud hut eating white ants.
With the help of Lisa and her team, Denise raised money and built a home for the brothers in their village, Rakai.
It is so moving that Denise’s legacy lives on and we still have so much we can do.Lisa Seferi
Links were maintained and continuous financial support was provided, resulting in Fred successfully graduating from university in Uganda.
Following Denise’s death, Fred now 24, set up The Denise Foundation Uganda, a charity to help less fortunate children in memory of Denise and with the support of Lisa.
As international co-ordinator, Lisa has been committed to keeping the work of Denise ongoing through the registered UK charity and is involved in raising funds to help support children alongside Fred and a team of UK volunteers.
To mark the 15-year anniversary of Pure Bliss, a ball was held earlier in the year raising over £15,000, which has helped install three shallow wells to provide villages clean safe drinking water.
This Morning wanted to revisit the area which Denise had supported and to see the legacy that continues from the launch of the foundation.
Lisa accompanied TV chef Phil Vickery as they met up with Fred to find out how Denise and the charitable work changed his life.
Lisa said: “It was an emotional moment for both me and Fred, as he didn’t know I was going.
“It is so moving that Denise’s legacy lives on and we still have so much we can do.
“The first school we visited on the trip had no toilets and the next project is to build the toilets at the school with the money raised, our overall vision is to build an orphanage as there are currently seven children living in Fred’s house with two tiny bedrooms.
“You can sponsor a child for as little as £20 a month to pay for their education, school meals uniforms and any medical bills that they have.
“It’s a very rewarding experience and you build up a great relationship with the child and they become part of your family.”
Following the visit to Uganda, Lisa was invited to appear on This Morning with Ruth Langsford and Eammon Holmes to talk about the response the charity has had since the film was aired.
For more information visit www.denisefoundation.com with a collection box set up at Pure Bliss.