From heartbreak to financial woes, Denise Robertson had seen her fair share of problems during her time as resident Agony Aunt on ITV’s This Morning. Little could have prepared her, however, for the shocking living conditions she witnessed whilst visiting Uganda on a trip with World Vision in 2004. It was on this visit that she encountered two orphaned brothers, Fred and Emmanuel, who lived in a mud hut and survived on white ants.
Deeply moved by her encounter with the two young boys, Denise knew she needed to act on her return to the UK. With the help of her friend and Pure Bliss Beauty Spa founder Lisa Seferi, Denise raised enough money to build a home for Fred and Emmanuel in their village of Rakai.
Over the years, links were maintained with the two boys and continuous financial support was provided, resulting in Fred successfully graduating from university in Uganda. Forever grateful for the profound impact Denise had upon his life, Fred, now 24, set up Denise Foundation Uganda following her passing in 2016. Aiming to help less fortunate children like himself and his brother, the charity is in memory of Denise and the impact she had upon the community.
As international co-ordinator for the charity, Lisa is actively committed to keeping Denise’s work alive, and has been heavily involved in raising funds alongside Fred and a team of UK volunteers. To mark the 15-year anniversary of Pure Bliss Beauty Spa, a charity ball was held earlier this year which helped raise over £15,000 for the foundation. This fundraising helped to install three shallow wells to provide villages with clean, safe drinking water.
Wanting to see first-hand the legacy that has continued since the launch of the foundation, ITV’s This Morning made a trip to Uganda to visit the area which Denise had so fondly supported. Lisa also joined the trip – accompanied by TV chef Phil Vickery – to catch up with Fred and find out how Denise and her charitable work changed his life. Following her visit to Uganda, Lisa was later invited to appear on ITV’s This Morning on the sofa with Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes to talk about the response the charity has had since the film was aired.
Speaking of the experience, 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. I can’t thank enough all of our clients, sponsors, trustees and anyone else who has contributed in any way to make Denise Foundation Uganda the success it has become. Denise would be extremely proud.’
Since filming, the foundation has received an overwhelming response from the public and generated 30 new child sponsorships. However, there are still 60 children on the program who are still awaiting sponsorship.
If you want to help support the cause, you can sponsor a child for as little as £20 a month. This helps pay for their education, school meals, uniforms and any medical bills that they have. Alternatively, there is an option to set up a direct debit from £3 pound a month to pay for scholastic materials for non-sponsored children to help them with their schooling. There is also a GoFundMe page on Denise Foundation Uganda website, as well as a collection box in Pure Bliss Beauty Spa, Sunderland.