One of Crawley’s most reknowned fundraisers has now become a British national after spending 51 years in the country. Maria Hains, who hails from of Eastwood in Three Bridges, took the oath of loyalty to The Queen at an occasion at Crawley Register Office on Wednesday last week.
There at the ceremony was John, her husband of over 46 years, Amanda one of her daughters, and a couple of friends.
According to her, she felt wonderful. She said she should have completed her citizenship in the past; but did not really know why she had to wait for the whole of 51 years. She felt that she belonged here after spending so many years. Indeed she believed she was British.
Originally from Castelluccio a village in the state of Foggia, Maria’s family owned a piece of land there where they cultivated wheat and grapes.
She had come to Eastwood when there was no longer any work in the village. At about that period she had also desired to have a change of life. Her brother Oreste was already in Crawley and had spotted some vacancies for a maid.
Maria was 19 years old when she arrived in the UK. Her first employment was at Larchwood on Sandy lane in Crawley Down. It used to be a residence for orphans. She loved looking after unwanted children. The job was actually for just half a year but her employers decided to retain her and so they got her a visa.
Sadly, Maria was analysed with breast cancer about 15 years ago. Rather than despair, she turned the incident into an avenue of assisting other people.
She told herself that being diagnosed with cancer was quite frightening because she thought she was not going to survive it. She then decided to go to Guildford for some medical attention and treatment because there was no cancer clinic in Crawley. This gave her an inspiration. She did not want other people to have to travel such a far distance. She then started a fundraising activity aimed at creating a Comet Ward at Crawley Hospital.
In addition to working towards the establishment of the Comet Ward at Crawley Hospital, Maria organized fundraising for 5 years in order to kick-off the Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre and the Chrysalis Crawley Breast Cancer Support Group as well.
Over the decades, Maria has successfully brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds for several charities. This includes over $100,000 for the Hospice at St. Catherine and about the same figure as well for the hospital in Crawley. This is excluding the hundreds of cakes she has personally baked during each of the fundraising events.
Apart from her family, nationalities of over 14 different countries joined Maria and her family during the nationality ceremony. Each one of them was excited at becoming citizens of Britain.
Since arriving in the UK, Maria has lived in Crawley, and in Three Bridges for over 45 years. At the occasion, she said she felt pleased and honoured because she was now British, even though her Italian accent was still noticeable. She was delighted to have been in the town for all those years.
In her opinion, Crawley was a very delightful place to live in. Although there were also unemployed people she believed that it was up to them to make it work for them. Complaining would not solve the unemployment issue. She equally recalled meeting various friends in Crawley and loving every moment she had spent with them.
Also at the occasion was Henry Smith MP. He spoke of the importance of recognizing Maria’s charity works in Crawley. He said he was pleased that Maria had been properly recognized and was actually expecting people to write to him with their tributes about their interactions with Maria all through those years.
So, are you familiar with who Maria is? What is your opinion of her fundraising endeavours and her becoming a British national? Or, are you familiar with anyone else that should be similarly recognized? Simply contact us