Rainbow Trust's Heather Wood on her perfect Surrey weekend

As chief executive of the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary Heather Wood can find herself doing anything from attending a village fête to jumping out of a plane to dining with Mark Ramprakash!

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2011

As chief executive of the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, when it gets to the weekend, Heather Wood can find herself doing anything from attending a village f�te to jumping out of a plane to dining with Mark Ramprakash! Here, the Leatherhead resident tells us more…

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It never fails to amaze me that a small community like Fetcham gave roots to a charity that now helps around 1,200 families across England every year; families facing the unimaginable pain of seeing their child battle a life threatening or terminal illness.

It is testament to the people of Surrey that Rainbow reaches its landmark 25th anniversary this year. Having supported thousands of families along the way, it has grown into one of the UK’s most-loved children’s charities thanks greatly to the continued support on a local level.

Surrey, to me, has everything, from sophisticated towns, beautiful villages, beaches within easy reach and fantastic access to the capital; however, its sense of community spirit and the people are the main reason I feel blessed to live here.

Being a CEO of a charity is a very rewarding role, but the demands on your time are incredible. My weekends can sometimes be spent supporting Rainbow fund-raising activities – from village f�tes and sporting events to high profile glamorous fund-raisers in London. So, the rare weekends when I am not working are very precious to me.

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Chocolate ravioli…I love shopping in the towns of Cobham, Weybridge and Reigate, and when I really want to indulge myself I head to Guildford with my daughter Joanna to explore the wonderful array of boutique shops – always ending up at the Italian-inspired Cambio at the Castle restaurant, having become partial to their Chocolate Ravioli with Confit Pork.

My other passions are antiques-hunting in Shere, Dorking and Hampton or visiting the county’s impressive gardens and parks. I go to RHS Wisley at least once a month, whatever the weather. It is the perfect place for a stroll and a long, leisurely lunch. Or you’ll find me on the North Downs, or in the grounds of Polesden Lacey, in Bookham, which is just so civilised and beautiful.

And this month you will definitely find me joining in the bonfire night fun at Brockham village, which is a family favourite.

I was born and raised in Bookham, but have spent most of my working life living in Leatherhead, joining Rainbow when it was a fledgling trust, as only its second employee in 1988. It was a very different story then – working from the shed of the charity’s founder, Bernadette Cleary OBE, who has been an enormous inspiration to me.

I have had many moments over the last 25 years when I think, ‘wow, look what we have achieved’. They occur all the time, whether it is receiving a moving and heartfelt thank you letter from a family or child, or witnessing the incredible way both the public and well-known faces have taken Rainbow to their hearts – like, earlier this year, watching Hollywood actress Brigitte Nielsen, whose son was recently diagnosed with a brain tumour, talking to ITV’s Lorraine Kelly on the sofa about Rainbow’s work and urging people to get behind us.

As fund-raising gets tougher in the current economic climate, I have been known to spend the occasional weekend doing daredevil stunts in a bid to raise money. To celebrate Rainbow’s 25th anniversary, I recently completed a wing walk (not bad for a 59-year-old), and I have also done skydiving and paragliding for Rainbow in the past.

I’m a big believer that you have to lead from the front, something that I will continue to do in November when I set off on Karma Enduro – a gruelling car rally across India, during which I’ll be driving 2,000km across the Western Ghat mountain range and crossing the testing and diverse terrain of southern India. Easy you would think, until you realise the mode of transport is an Ambassador taxi!

For more information or to donate to the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, please visit their website at www.rainbowtrust.org.uk.