Almost two decades ago my life changed forever; my next door neighbour Liz stuck her head over the garden fence and asked if I’d be interested in joining a charity fundraising group that she was part of.
She said their treasurer had moved on and they were looking for a new one and she knew that I was working in an accounts department of a large computer company. I agreed to go along to the group’s next meeting and the rest is history as they say!
That group was the Nantwich Christie Hospital Support Group. At the time, the group was organising its third black-tie ball at the Nantwich Civil Hall; I couldn’t recall ever going to such an event before and I certainly hadn’t been involved in helping to organise one, but I said I’d be happy to do whatever they wanted me to do.
In the run up to the ball we were selling tickets for a grand draw which would be drawn on the night, this involved standing in the centre of Crewe and Nantwich trying to catch peoples’ eyes and persuade them to part with their hard-earned money, not an easy task!
It was during this activity that I first started to realise how important The Christie, or Christie’s hospital as it was then known, was to people. Strangers were coming up and pouring their hearts out about how they or someone they knew was being treated at the hospital and how if it wasn’t for the fantastic doctors and nurses they probably would not be around.
It was all tear-jerking stuff and I began to realise that what the Nantwich group was doing was really making a difference. The grand draw and the summer ball were a great success and we were invited along to meet the research team to hand over the £16,000 that we’d raised. This had taken the group’s overall total to a fantastic £38,000 and Sarah, the group’s Chair, and the other committee members had said that this was way over what they had originally set out to make and that it was time to stop.
We arrived at The Christie and were given a tour round the research facilities, introduced to a number of researchers who thanked us for all our efforts and explained to us that if it wasn’t for people like us then the massive progress that had been achieved in treating cancer patients might stop! We handed over our donation, had the photoshoot with the large cheque and left … as we walked out of the door we all looked at each other and we knew we couldn’t stop fundraising, however, we all agreed ‘No more balls!’
So, at our next meeting we agreed that we had to carry on with our fundraising but rather than organising large, one-off events we would focus on smaller more regular events and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since… plus we have broken our own ‘no more balls’ rule on a number of occasions as we have reached significant milestones in our fundraising journey. In fact, we are currently in the process of organising next year’s ‘silver anniversary ball’ to celebrate 25 years of fundraising for The Christie.
A couple of years ago I was asked to speak at a fundraisers’ forum at The Christie and my message to the people gathered in the auditorium was to make sure you have fun – ‘put the fun into fundraising’ – and that way it doesn’t seem like hard work. It is certainly something our Nantwich group does.
We are a very relaxed group of friends who just so happen to raise money for a fantastic cause along the way.
Earlier this year our group had the great honour of being asked to help launch the ‘We did it for The Christie’ (#wediditforthechristie) campaign. This important new campaign aims to bring in new supporters for The Christie and encourage supporters to fundraise for the vital work done by The Christie.
Twenty years ago, I would never have imagined that people would be coming up to me in the street and saying ‘Oh, you’re the bingo caller from that do we went to last week’ or ‘could you please make the questions at next year’s quiz a bit easier so we don’t win the wooden spoon again!’
Joining the Nantwich Christie Hospital Support Group really did change my life. Since joining I now have an amazing circle of friends, a fantastic social life and most of all I know that I’m helping, in a very small way, to improve the lives of others. I have a lot to thank my neighbour Liz for!