Andy Jackson
Posted by

Ambassador Update blog - May 2017

Andy Jackson
Posted by
31 May 2015

From Impact Days and appearances on TV shows to superhuman walks and delicious cake recipes, May has been another busy month. Read on to find out more about what you've all been up to 

May was another extremely productive month which kept me very, very busy and really helped highlight just how much of a difference you're making to the charity and blood cancer patients.

Highlights for me include Kate Giles's brilliant Facebook Live, Katie Moore's moving appearance on the BBC One Show 'Going Back, Giving Back', Mental Health Awareness Week and the brilliant Impact Days in Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham.

Here's a more detailed look at some of the things that you've been up to:

1. Impact Days

May saw us hold the three remaining Impact Days in Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham respectively and boy did you do us proud in your running of the stalls and talking to guests! We've received so much positive feedback about you all and you really played a huge role in helping make the days run smoothly and making people feel part of the Bloodwise family.

I know that many of you travelled some considerable distances - not least Erica Farmer - and I'd like to thank each and every one of you that gave up one of your Saturdays to help out.

Special thanks to Brett Grist, Louise Smith and Helen Tait for putting themselves out there as the patient speakers. I was fortunate enough to be there for both Brett and Louise's speeches while I've watched a video of Helen's that I will look to share with you all in due course and cannot tell you just how brilliant they were. They did us all proud and put all the work that we're doing together into context and perspective.

That's it now for another year with Impact Days although it won't be long until we start thinking about next year where we'll be looking to get you more involved in the planning of the days. If you've got any feedback or ideas for what we could do next year please don't hesitate to get in touch with us at support@bloodwise.org.uk

2. Kate Giles's Facebook Live

On Thursday May 25th Kate Giles joined us for our latest Facebook Live and spoke brilliantly about her experiences of being on Watch and Wait as a small lymphocytic leukaemia patient. Kate spoke particularly well about the emotional impact her SLL has had on her and was so open about how useful speaking to a clinical psychiatrist has been for her.

A huge thank you to Kate for coming all the way from Newport to speak to us (she also spoke to staff for an hour prior to the Q&A) and to Daniel Holloway and everyone else that took the time to send in a question ahead of the Q&A which despite not going out live due to tecnhical difficulties has been viewed more than 3,000 times. Here's a link if you want to watch it again: http://bit.ly/2smQPfR

Jane Leahy has very kindly agreed to step in to the Q&A hotseat for July however we're still looking for a willing volunteer for June. If you're interested in taking part do send me an email at ajackson@bloodwise.org.uk and I'll look to arrange a time and date that works for you.

3. Inspiring press coverage

On 22nd May Katie Moore met Calendar Girl Angela Knowles in an incredibly moving episode of the new BBC One series 'Going Back, Giving Back' and talked openly about losing her husband to lymphoma. This was the first time that Katie had done anything like this and she spoke with dignity and great courage and rightly got some lovely write ups by the media including a fantastic piece in the Daily Mail.

If you haven't got round to watching it yet then I thoroughly recommend catching up with it on iPlayer although I recommend that you have a tissue handy as it's an emotional watch. Here's the link: http://bbc.in/2qLyuLG  

Katie wasn't the only one getting awareness out there in the press last month. There was a lovely piece on Katherine Sinfield and her participation in Nancy's Sunflower campaign in the Burton Mail while there was also a great feature on Anna Mamwell and her husband Lee's participation in this year's Prudential Ride 100 in the Grimsby Telegraph.

Last and by no means least a huge thank you to Ellie Philpotts who stepped up at the last minute to talk on Midlands radio station, Free Radio, where she talked brilliantly about stem cell donors and the role that both we and Anthony Nolan play in helping support blood cancer patients and their families.

4. Raising awareness, representing the charity and supporting others

You did a fantastic job raising awareness, representing the charity last month and supporting others last month.

First and foremost that was in the way of some more brilliant blogs about your experiences in our patient community all of which we went on to also share with wider community on Facebook. A huge thank you to Martin O'Brian, Kerry Brown, Sam Farr, Katie Ruane, Lisa Griffiths, Emma Bottoms and, most recently, Mel Plumridge for taking the time to write a blog and helping to generate awareness and conversation among other blood cancer patients and their families.

A huge thank you, too, to everyone that engaged with other patients and our posts on our Facebook page. You're helping us to create and grow a community that is making an enormous difference to so many. Keep up the good work!

You've also continued to fly the flag raising awareness in the local community in all manner of ways from wearing your t-shirts to handing out our patient information and representing us at events. 

I'd like to say special thanks to a few Ambassadors in this regard for their endeavours this month. Wendy Leigh did a terrific job sharing her experiences at a big dinner with one of our big charity partners while Paul Carless was a huge inspiration at the launch of the Fireflies annual cycle event which raises £10,000s every year. Louise Macleod also did a brilliant job spreading the word about the charity in a speech to her mum's local church group and clearly made a big impression as she also raised £150.

Last and by no means least a huge thank you to Mark Noblet who attended a dinner dance on our behalf in memory a man called Matt Allen who sadly passed away earlier this year after a noble battle with lymphoma. Mark actually knew Matt from university which must have made the talk that much harder but he did a brilliant job and we cannot thank him enough for representing us.

If you haven't shared your story yet but would like to then please do fill out our Ambassador story form and I'll be in touch about then helping you turn it in to a blog.

5. Fabulous fundraising

A number of you were involved in fundraising efforts this month which deserve a mention not least Charlie Toon who over the Bank Holiday weekend walked 56 km in searing heat for 12 long, long hours in the London to Brighton challenge. Charlie trained really, really hard ahead of the walk and I'm so proud of her for taking it by the scruff of the neck and seeing it through when it got tough. If you'd like to make a donation then you can do so on Charlie's JustGiving page where she's already raised an impressive £820.

I'd also like to say a huge well done to Lindsey Etesami who took part in the Great Manchester Run on Sunday in her wheelchair. Honourable mentions must also go to Anna Mamwell who raised £750 from a Soul/Motwon night, Donna Dunn and Louise Macleod who held a hugely successful Open Garden Day that raised more than £1500.

A huge thank you to each and every one of you that's got involved in fundraising already this year especially those of you who have set up JustGiving pages and linked them to the Ambassador team page. We've raised more than £20,000 already and I'm very excited about taking this forwards as I think we have the potential to do something very special as a group in terms of fundraising.

I've written a fundraising blog with some ideas on some activities that we can all do together over the remainder of the year however I'm always open to more ideas so if you have any suggestions please don't hesitate to get in touch!

6.  Mental Health Awareness Week

At the beginning of the month we devoted a week of commuications on Facebook to the psychological and mental affects of blood cancer as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. This is an aspect of blood cancer that is often overlooked and I'm proud that the charity took some active steps towards addressing the issue by opening up the conversation.

You all played a massive role in helping facilitate this conversation by sharing your own experiences, supporting others and with all your questions for the Q&A with our clinical psychologist Frances Goodhart who provided some really great tips and advice which I hope you found useful.

Special thanks to Sam Farr who wrote a blog especially for Mental Health Awareness Week all about some of the difficulties that she's faced which I think a number of us can relate. You can read Sam's blog here.

7. Other

A huge thank you to Andee Papasavvas, Joan Smith, Jude Irwin and others who have contributed cake recipes as part of our efforts to promote Tea with the Girls as a campaign.

Thanks, too, to Paul Carless for giving up an entire day to come and speak to and support us with our All Staff Day. Paul very kindly went to great lengths to thank each and every department for the role that they have played in helping support him on his own blood cancer journey which was not lost on staff who left feeling enthused and more determined than ever to keep doing their bit to help beat blood cancer.

Last and by no means least a huge thank you to everyone that's been supporting Carrie Grimes in the Ambassador Facebook group as she begins her stem cell transplant. You're a huge source of support and comfort to her and all the time and effort you are putting in is very much appreciated.