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Scarecrows Raise Record Funds

by Francesca Flaxton – 20th August 2020
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The 2020 Haddenham Scarecrow Festival held for two weeks in June has exceeded all possible expectations, not only in the record number of 140 entries, but also in terms of the huge sum raised for charity.

This year the Haddenham Scout and Guide Association chose to give 100% of funds raised to the Medical Detection Dogs, specifically towards their current COVID-19 detection dogs project.

During Festival fortnight, very generous donations were made via the event's Justgiving page, by BACS, via CAF accounts, by cheque and in cash, further boosted by the addition of Gift Aid. At the end of the Festival, we ambitiously estimated that the event could raise over £4000. The fantastic news is that donations continued to be made throughout the summer and we are now delighted and thrilled to announce that taking everything into account, the 2020 Scarecrow Festival has raised a staggering total of £5,175.90 – this is over 5 times more more than the event has ever raised in its 5-year history.

Representatives from the Medical Detection Dogs charity, Chris Millard, Geoff Lambert and his ambassador dog, Buddy, came to Haddenham to receive the money from Scarecrow Festival organiser, Francesca Flaxton, on behalf of the Scout and Guide Association.

Francesca said "I am hugely proud on behalf of those in Haddenham who supported this event to present such a fantastic contribution towards the Medical Detective Dogs, which will make a real difference. The fact that this was raised in such challenging times, during lockdown makes it all the more incredible".

Things are progressing very well with the charity's COVID-19 detection dogs project. The dogs chosen to work on Phase 1 have been spending lots of time in the training room learning the system so that when samples from individuals that have had the virus arrive on site they can transfer all their skills to detecting that odour and indicating when they find it. Although it seems odd to be so eagerly awaiting the arrival of a disease, this is what the charity has been working for - to make a tangible difference in real life and save countless lives with the power of the dog's nose.

You may have seen in the media that the COVID-19 dog team is now asking the public for help with the trial.  
You can help if you have mild COVID-19 symptoms and are due to have a swab test or have had a swab test conducted in the previous 24 hours. All you have to do is provide samples of breath and body odour.

If you can help, please call the team at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on 0207 927 2777 when you will be checked for eligibility, or send an email to coviddogs@lshtm.ac.uk. If accepted to participate in this trial, you will be sent a sample collection pack. 

Medical Detection Dogs is aiming to collect 325 positive and 675 negative samples – in order to confidently ascertain if these dogs can accurately detect the disease. This is a real step forward in ensuring we have plenty of samples to show to our dogs and help make the project as thorough and robust as our high standards require. 

Although next year's Haddenham Scarecrow Festival is highly unlikely to take place in such unique circumstances, the event will go ahead come what may! So, start planning your entry now and keep an eye on local media for dates and details of the 2021 Festival.

Francesca Flaxton
18th August 2020

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