Thursday, 3 June 2010

Anne Oliver

Behind every successful charity is a very hard working fund raising team. The 2 charities I'm raising funds for, St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation, are no exception.

I recently learned that the Fund Raising co-ordinator for St Benedict's Hospice, Anne Oliver, will soon be retiring. 

I've "worked" with Anne since my Mam attended the Hospice in 1994. She is a smashing lady and works extremely hard with her team, many of them volunteers, to ensure that as many funds as possible are raised and the various events in aid of the Hospice are very well supported.

I'm sure Anne won't mind me telling you that her hard work was recognised by Seaburn Rotary club in 2005. They presented Anne with the Paul Harris Award for her services to the community. 

I think she also deserves an award for having to look her absolute best at all times. There can be no "bad hair days" for Anne as she is often called upon to receive a cheque for the Hospice with the local newspaper in attendance.

Anne was the first fundraiser at St Benedict's Hospice in 1994 when all the fundraising office contained was a desk, a chair, and a telephone. The fundraising team later expanded with 2 part time secretaries, Lisa and Jean. Jean has also recently announced her retirement. 

Over the years the fundraising has continued to grow with the Hospice Calendar, Christmas Cards and other promotional items being delivered all over the world. 

In 2007, I was lucky enough to receive a fantastic award (pictured) from St Benedict's Hospice in recognition of the £34,108 that was raised during my run from John O'Groats to Lands End. My son, Jack, received a similar award and I hope it inspires him to follow in my footsteps (not literally!) when he's older.

I managed to catch up with Anne the other day and this is what she had to say.

What do you like most about your job? Every day is different. I have been to places I had never been to before and have met many interesting and generous people. I am always amazed at the events people organise in order to raise funds for the hospice and also the support which we get for our own events i.e. the Christmas Lights, calendars, Christmas cards etc. The commitment of people who have been connected with the hospice either as a patient, a relative or a friend cannot praise the hospice enough for the services which they have received.

What has been the biggest change in the Hospice in all of those years? The hospice moved from Havelock Hospital to Monkwearmouth Hospital in 1994. The facilities were much improved at that time. 

In 2004 the hospice was again refurbished and the result is what you see today, modern décor, light and airy rooms with private facilities. 

The services have also increased with the most recent being the expansion of the Out of Hours Service which provides choice and a service to patients with cancer and other life limiting conditions, wishing to be cared for in their own home. 

The public see a building on Newcastle Road which they know is the hospice but they do not realise that it provides a vast number of services. The in - patient unit has 12 beds and we have a 12 place Day care unit, a Lymphoedema clinic, a Lecturer Practitioner, Specialist Palliative Care nurses working in the community, 3 medical consultants, a palliative care social work team, a chaplain , volunteers and the Fundraising Department. Other members of the team include a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a pharmacist and a hairdresser.

We first met in 1994. What differences have you seen in me as a fundraiser since those early days? Since I first met you at our charity shop in Washington you have gone from strength to strength. I have watched your progress over the years starting with the first Great North Run which you ran for us in 1994 and am constantly amazed at what you think of for the next event. You have certainly come a long way and I feel privileged to have been part of your life whilst you progressed and to know that you have never forgotten the hospice. 

You also have met some very interesting people and some very loyal people but the ones that stick in my mind is your Aunty Joyce and her family who have always given you their support and the little group who were always waiting with me at the end of your runs, and last but not least your wife Katy and son Jack. 

Through your sheer determination and commitment you are now a national figure whose progress is followed by a vast number of people and I am proud to see the hospice logo on everything you do.

What plans do you have for your retirement? I do not have any specific plans for my retirement but I know that we will be spending more time walking in Wensleydale. We have a caravan based in Constable Burton so we will be able to spend more time down there.

Do you have any word of advice for anyone who is thinking of fundraising or volunteering for a charity? Anyone venturing into fundraising should be prepared for hard work. They must also be prepared to work unsocial hours (evenings, weekends, Bank Holidays ) and must be committed to the charity.

I'd like to take this opportunity on my website to thank Anne (and her team) for all of her help over the years. I'll always remember her presence at the end of those Coast to Coast runs in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 when she had a flask of tea and some biscuits for all of the well wishers.

Personally, I think Anne Oliver is a really tough act to follow and a shining example to all fundraisers. Good luck to St Benedict's Hospice in finding a worthy replacement.

Have a very happy retirement Anne and if you're in New York on August 8th 2011, please don't forget to bring a flask of tea and some biscuits!