5 favourite Essex things: Avril Mills BEM

Avril Mills

Avril Mills - Credit: Archant

Avril Mills BEM, founder of The Dream Factory charity in Ilford shares some of her favourite things about her life in the county

Avril Mills BEM is the creator of The Dream Factory in Ilford, which brightens the lives and encourages hope for children and young adults aged three to 25 years who have either life-limiting or life-threatening conditions, or who suffer from severe disabilities. Avril was inspired to set up the children’s charity by her son, Oliver, who died of Leukemia at the age of nine and who expressed the wish to grant dreams for children when he grew up. She has lived in Essex for more than 30 years.

Favourite restaurant

I really enjoy going to Zaikaa, an Indian restaurant in Epping High Street. They always offer great customer service and provide a very reasonable buffet on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. It is an ideal place to go with friends and family.

Favourite day out

I love visiting old Leighon Sea during the spring and summer because it is such a beautiful, picturesque old fishing village. I like walking through the cobbled streets to see the variety of cockle sheds, quaint tea houses, fishing boats, craft shops which stretch along the shoreline and the high street, it is lovely. I then like to sit back and relax outside one of the pubs and watch the sea.

Favourite memory

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I have lots of beautiful memories as I have lived in Essex since 1983. One of my fondest memories was when we used to have carnivals and floats travelling through Epping High Street with lots of schools joining in the parades. My children, Emma and Oliver, went to Epping Upland School and I dressed them up as the King and Queen of Hearts one year. However, this was many years ago when Oliver was in remission from leukaemia. Another favourite memory of mine was when I received my BEM from The Queen. I went to Ingatestone Hall with my family to receive my medal from the Lord Lieutenant of Essex. It was a very proud day for my family and I.

Favourite hidden gem

I like to go to the Kings Oak Beach Club in High Beach during the summer months, obviously weather dependent! If the sun is shining, it is a lovely place to relax and to listen to some great music.

Favourite café

I love walking around to keep fit, especially in Epping because it is a beautiful place and there are plenty of people I know to say hello to. I sometimes stop at Dada Café for a fresh panini or juice because it is really cosy in there and it is run by a husband and wife who are always very welcoming.

Get in touch

The Dream Factory, South Eastern House, 62 –70 Fowler Road, Hainault, IG6 3UT, 020 8501 1234 www.yourdreamfactory.org

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