FRIENDS and relatives came from far and wide to celebrate a Whitestaunton pensioner’s birthday, while raising a bucket load of cash for a good cause.

Rene Hipkins, of Orchard Cottage in the village, marked her 90th birthday by holding a party in Buckland St Mary village hall, while encouraging a collection for CLIC Sargent.

More than 80 guests attended, coming from as far afield as Cambridge and Bishops Stortford, and gathering a total of £651 for the charity which supports children and young people with cancer and their families.

The cause was one close to the Rene’s heart as her great-grandson, Tom, had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was two years old – but he is now ten, fit and healthy and living in Hertfordshire.

Mrs Hipkins said: “I just wanted to thank everybody who came for their generosity. I have only been here in this area since 1983 when my husband retired and so many people came out.”

Judith Marchent, CLIC Sargent’s Mid Somerset branch treasurer visited Whitestaunton last month to be presented with the funds raised by Mrs Hipkins, who was joined by her two daughters, Carol King, also from the village, and Lyn Kemp from Chard.

Judith added: “When I heard more than £600 had been raised I thought I don’t believe it – it is absolutely amazing.

“The money will go towards the purposes for which it was intended – research, funding a professorship at Bristol University for CLIC and accommodation for families in Bristol to stay in while their children are being treated.”

“At one point, only 30% of children survived childhood cancers but now 70% survive overall.”