I originally joined Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (LLR) as a volunteer and fundraiser, following my mum's diagnosis with leukaemia. After successful treatment, she went in to remission and soon after she set up a local Fundraising Group along with family and friends. I joined the group as a way to help raise money for the charity, and to say thank you for her still being with us.
One of my first fundraising events saw me sign up to do the Bupa Great North Run in 2009, and for someone with little (OK no) sporting ability, running to raise money was a brilliant reason to do such an exhilarating challenge that I would most likely have not done otherwise.
I started working for LLR in 2010 up in the Edinburgh Office, as Fundraising Assistant for Scotland, and was immediately energised and inspired by the great variety of people who all join together to help beat blood cancer. In August 2012, I moved to Newcastle to take up the role of Regional Manager for the North, and I can't believe how quickly the year has gone already!
In my role I'm in contact with a fantastic range of supporters, and no day is the same as the last. I'm always so amazed and humbled at how much people are willing to do to help raise funds and help raise awareness, to ultimately beat blood cancer. Take John Wheaton for example, who has been volunteering for LLR for over 30 years, and who brightens up my day every time we have a catch-up. John carried the Olympic Torch last year in recognition of his volunteering and fundraising for LLR, and at the start of 2013, I got to present John with a very well deserved Certificate of Merit presentation.
My first year here in the North started with meeting and contacting the northern voluntary branches, fundraising groups, supporters and fundraisers who tirelessly raise money for LLR. I also got a greater understanding of the various and often awe inspiring research that takes place in the region, meeting with researchers and scientists from across the different northern research cities to hear about the work they are doing.
One of the first events I attended as the Regional Manager for the North was the 2012 Bupa Great North Run (this time representing the charity at the event, rather than running the course!) It's hard to put into words just how wonderful it was to see the sea of yellow tops worn by our Unstoppable runners, and to get the chance to meet these runners and their families at LLR's charity tent at the end of the run.
Time has flown by since those first few weeks, and over the past year I've been in contact with a fantastic range of supporters, involved in the charity in great number of ways. From organising events, representing the charity, volunteering at collections and helping in the office, everyone has made a lasting impact on our charity's work.
Each week, new and different supporters get in touch too, and their stories never fail to inspire and motivate. Recently Nesha Berry got in touch as she and friend Jessica Cutler are planning a Charity Ball this year, following their experience with blood cancer. Nesha kindly shared her story with us in a guest blog which you can read here.
The Northern Facebook page has grown too, and has become a page where we share updates on events, volunteering opportunities and research updates. We love when supporters share on our page too, sharing photos and post from their own activities.
One of the latest events I've been involved with is our Small Change, BIG Impact initiative, and now we're in September, it's only a few weeks away, and so I'm getting excited for the event now! On Friday 20th and Saturday 21st September supporters from across the North and throughout the UK are helping with collections and organising their own activities to make a big impact on our work to beat blood cancer. It's been fantastic to see how many people have got in touch to be part of this initiative - if you'd like to find out more, please visit the event's webpage.
No day is the same as the next, and I'm always so amazed and humbled at how much people do to help raise funds and help raise awareness for a charity's that's so close to my heart. I'm now looking forward to seeing what the next 12 months brings, and I'm sure when I next look back in a year's time, we'll be even closer to our goal to beat blood cancer.
At last year's Bupa Great North Run