Tuesday 11 September 2018

25 years of fundraising - 1999 to 2005

As I entered my seventh year of fundraising, something about my fundraising became very obvious to me. I realised that what started out as a venture to repay the debt of gratitude to St Benedict's Hospice had other benefits. The first was the feeling of fulfilment. With every step ran and subsequent pound donated the enormous sense of feeling fulfilled was overwhelming. 

I'm convinced that, over the years, my fundraising has played a huge part in the grieving process. Doing sponsored events has always helped me focus on the positive and keep me from dwelling too long on the negative thoughts associated with the loss of my parents.

My fundraising ambition in 1999 and beyond was to try and raise over £1000 each year for the Hospice. In order to do this I did another bike ride from Washington to Ripon and back. I had another go at the London Marathon as well as the Great North Run. I didn't take the Great North run seriously 

The final event that year was the New York Marathon. I was very pleased to hand over a cheque at the end of the year for £1650 to the Hospice.

These were the days before social media and online donation websites. The people who donated were colleagues, friends and family. My audience was limited and I knew that this had to change if I wanted to continue my plan of raising £1000 a year. 

I didn't do any fundraising in the year 2000. My full time job away from the North East keep me busy. I did make sure to make a personal donation to the Hospice that year though in memory of my Mam.

In 2001, I did the Great North Run again. Popular Newcastle United supporter's website nufc.com were kind enough to feature me on their site. I also created my first blog (long before they were called blogs) which had an address of www.markallison.com. Despite my own online presence I decided not to to use a fund-raising platform such as Just Giving. I didn't like the idea of anyone taking a % out of donations to the hospice.

I had another go at the New York Marathon in 2001. This was the year of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York. There were a few weeks where it wasn't known whether or not the marathon would go ahead. I was very pleased and relieved that it did go ahead and felt very proud to hand over a cheque for £2,470 to the Hospice at the end of the year. I had not only hit my £1000 target but also more than made up for the lack of fundraising in 2000.

As the St. Benedict's Hospice newsletter below states "Already the next event is at the planning stage". I knew that I would have to do something far more difficult if I was to continue raising £1000 a year for the Hospice.

In 2002 I decided to leave the organised events such as the Great North Run and the marathons behind. The next logical step for me was to try and run the width of the country. I chose the 140 mile C2C route and planned to do it in October of that year. I set a very ambitious fundraising target of £4,000.

The 140 mile run through the Lake District and North Pennines was incredibly tough but I managed to get to St. Benedict's Hospice within 7 days. I fell way short of my fundraising target but £1,560 was raised which is difficult to be disappointed about.

In an attempt to hit my fundraising target of £2000 in 2003 I begrudgingly decided to use Just Giving as well as my traditional approach to fundraising. I chose to run the the newly opened 84 mile Hardian's Wall path dressed as a Roman soldier. It wasn't the full ancient military outfit but more the kind of thing that you'd wear on a stag do! I was joined by my colleague and fellow runner John Mallon. I'll leave it up to you to figure out who looked the most ridiculous!  

By the time we reached Segedunum 3 days after leaving Bowness-on-Solway a massive £4,140 had been raised. The combination of documenting the journey on a daily basis via markallison.com and accepting online donations as well as in person paid off big time. 

It was one of the most fun events that I'd ever ran in. It was such a good laugh and John was great company. 

In 2004 and 2005 I had another go at running the 140 mile C2C route in 5 and 3 days respectively. £1,228 and £1,477 were raised for the Hospice in those years. 

I remember getting to the finish line in 2005 thinking "There's no way that I'll be able to run from John O'Groats to Lands End". To run that 900 mile route was my long term fundraising ambition. 

Speaking of finish lines and there was one ever present person whenever I completed a run across the country. The fundraising coordinator from St. Benedict's Hospice, Anne Oliver, was always there with a flask of tea and some biscuits.

The first 13 years of fundraising had seen £14,925 raised. £250 of that total was for North of England Children's Cancer Research and the remaining £14,675 was for St. Benedict's Hospice. 

During this period, I began to keep people informed of my fundraising using markallison.com. I'd also started using Just Giving to accept online donations. My plan to raise £1000 a year was working. 

It would have been unimaginable back then to think that over the following 12 years an extra £300,000 would be raised for the Hospice and other local good causes. As I told the Sunderland Echo "This isn't just something I intend to do for a short time. I'd like to think that I'll always try and raise funds for St. Benedict's Hospice".

That's all for today. Tomorrow I'll talk about the fundraising years from 2006 - 2010.