Monday, 10 September 2018

25 years of fundraising - 1993 to 1998

This is the first in the series of five blog posts taking a look back at the first 25 years of my fundraising. I'm sure long term followers, friends and family are well aware of the history of my fundraising and the reasons for it. For those of you who don't I do hope you enjoy reading my story over the coming five days.

"What am I supposed to do now?" is exactly what I said when I returned home for the final time from St. Benedict's Hospice during the early hours of March 9th 1995. Sadly my Mam, passed away during that night following two weeks of palliative care on one of the Hospice's wards. 

My mam's name was Marjorie. Her friends called her "Madge". She lost her battle with lung cancer 7 years after my Dad, Terry, lost his. I was 17 years old when my Dad died. To be now without both of my parents at the age of 23 was a very daunting prospect. 

Losing a loved one is something that you never get over. The grieving process that began in 1988 and was now added to in 1995 would continue on for many years to come. In fact, it wasn't until 2016 that I believe I finally came to terms with the death of my parents.

We lived in Washington at the time which is why we lived in the catchment area of St. Benedict's Hospice in the City of Sunderland.

When my Mam attended the day ward at St Benedict's Hospice from 1994 I decided almost immediately to raise funds. She would be taken there and back by ambulance. She had her medication regulated, talked to the doctors about her treatment and she had access to a whole host of complimentary therapy services that were on offer. Even from those early days, I felt compelled to raise funds to repay the Hospice for everything that they were doing for my Mam. We knew that there was no cure for her cancer. The Hospice were doing everything that they could to help make my Mam's final days, weeks and months as comfortable, pain free and as dignified as possible. 

So that's the background very briefly to give you an idea of why I do what I do to fundraise. I'm sure it's not a unique story. In fact, I know it isn't because of all of the people that I've talked to over the years who also raise funds for similar reasons to me.

The only thing that I was able to do to raise funds was running. Fortunately we have the biggest half marathon in the world right here in the north east of England. I signed up to do my first Great North Run in 1993 and managed to get round in 2 hours and 8 minutes. I got sponsored £100 for it with the proceeds going to North of England Children's Cancer Research (NECCR). 

The second attempt at the Great North Run in 1994 took me 1 hour and 58 minutes. I raised £200 for the Hospice. The 1995 Great North Run took me 1 hour 48 minutes and another £200 was raised. It still remains my quickest official half marathon time to date. That year also saw my quickest 10k which was the Kielder Run in 00:43:10. I also ran my quickest 5k ever in training in 1995 in 00:17:00. I also raised £150 for NECCR that year when I joined an organised bike ride to Jimmy's hospital in Leeds.

In 1996, I cycled 120 miles to Ripon and back from Washington in 2 days. That event together with the Great North Run saw £500 raised for St. Benedict's Hospice. I did the Great North Run in 01:55:20.

In 1997, I convinced friends and colleagues to join me on another 120 mile bike ride from Washington to Ripon and back in 2 days. Just like the year before, it was a tough event. This was mainly due to the amount of beer that we drunk in Ripon at the end of the first day. Together we raised £500 for the Hospice. Pictured below with me is my old work mate, Alan Marshall and his wife. Anne Oliver, the fundraising co-ordinator for the Hospice is on the end.

I also ran the London Marathon in 1997. It took me 5 hours and 5 minutes. That event and the Great North Run of that year raised another £500 for the Hospice.


In 1998, I did the Great North Run again and raised £250 for the Hospice. I don't recall my time. 

So it took five years to raise £2400 of which £2150 was for St Benedict's Hospice. In subsequent blog posts in this series I'll write about how that kind of money was raised in a matter of seconds during future events. 

No matter what the amount raised, it was very obvious to me during those first five years of fundraising that there were a lot of generous and supportive people around me. I always felt quite shy asking people for money. I never took their kind generosity for granted though and always made a point of thanking people as often as I could.

By the end of 1998, I really felt that I'd started to repay the debt of gratitude that I felt towards St. Benedict's Hospice. It was my burning ambition, though, to raise thousands each year in the future. I had an idea of how I'd be able to do that in 1999.

Tune in tomorrow for the second part of this series covering 1999 to 2005.