Ellie Dawes
Posted by
Ellie Dawes

Top moments of 2014 - from the digital engagement team

Ellie Dawes
Posted by
Ellie Dawes
17 Dec 2014

I manage the small Digital Engagement team here at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. Together with Andy, we are responsible for finding new ways to communicate online with our supporters, and the patients we're here to help.

We have had so many amazing moments this year, and there are hundreds of stories we could share! Here, in no particular order, are our top ten.

1. Our online community shouts about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Blood cancers are the most common cancers in children and this year we had great success in raising awareness of the key issue of the toxicity of treatment for children with blood cancer. Members of our community (researchers, staff and patients) wrote some incredibly moving blogs to tell this story from a range of perspectives for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

My favourite aspect of this campaign was how our Facebook community got involved and helped up spread the word. They shared the most beautiful childhood dreams for the gallery. And so many people shared this image (below) it became our most successful Facebook post ever.

Thanks to our community sharing and promoting this image, over 150,000 people saw this Facebook post. This is particularly impressive when you consider that at the time just over 50,000 people 'Liked' our Facebook page. This means that 100,000 extra people, possibly for the first time, got the message that we are making a big difference in the lives of children with cancer.


2. Wickes cycle around the world

Andy and I were monitoring our social media over the weekend specially to watch Wickes employees cycle around the word using exercise bikes in stores across the country. Other brilliant members of the digital team built a custom website for the Wickes staff to record their miles and see how far around the world they were. Wickes employees posted in the Facebook event sharing their pictures and updates. It was amazing to see the dedication of our supporters at Wickes, and how much fun everyone was having! This weekend pushed the amount Wickes have raised so far to help beat blood cancer over £4 million, a phenomenal acheivement.


3. Reaching 50,000 Likes on Facebook.

When we reached 50,000 Likes on our main Facebook page, we roped in some of our favourite LLR staff members to say thank you to some of them. It was just a little thing but I loved this video. We really get to know the people who regulalry chat to us on the page, they are all such inspiring friendly and warm people that hearing their names makes me smile. 

4. The amateur Calendar Girls have a party.

When I started working here back in 2012, one of the first peices of digital engagement work I did was to create a Facebook group for amateur actors who were performing Tim Firth's Calendar Girls play.

There are 588 members of the group now, spin off groups have been created and in May, the group organised a real life meet up at an Afternoon Tea with the Calendar Girls event. I was very sad not to make it to the event personally, this community is very close to my heart, having performed in the show myself and I love the fact that thanks to the Facebook group, so many of them are still in contact and raising money for the charity! One of the ladies from my production, Alison, even rode in the London Bikeathon this year

5. Patients share their stories.

At the beginning of this year, there were perhaps a dozen patient blogs on our website. Now, there are hundreds. Andy and I read every single one. Sometimes these can be heartbreaking. Sometimes, when someone has good news, it puts our team in a great mood all day. There have been so many amazing stories shared by patients on our site this year but one that stands out is that of Mark, who was blogging on the site throughout his stem cell transplant. I learned so much more about the process from Mark's engaging updates and I know that having these blogs on the site will be so useful for other patients facing the same experience. We even created a Spotify playlist for him to listen to in isolation. When Mark was able to go home, after a dangerous week battling an infection, it really brightened the mood of our whole office.

6. Showing our impact at Impact Day

Back in April, I worked with one of our talented designers, Violet, on the exhibition for our annual Impact Day. Together with a fantastic project team, we turned the exhibition space into a timeline to demonstrate how far we have come in our journey to beat blood cancer, and what we could acheive in the future. This is always such an inspiring day and it was a privilage for us to be there and chat to some of our supporters, particularly patients who were so excited about our future plans to reach out to people online and tackle those feelings of loneliness and isolation that so many newly diagnosed blood cancer patients have to deal with.

I also roped in several of my most talented actor friends to volunteer to act in the videos for this exhibition. They did a fab job! 

7. Building our own fundraising pages

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research were one of the first charities to build our own online fundraising pages. This year, for the first time, everyone signing up for certain events on our website also created their own fundraising page at the same time, with no need to go create a donation page on an external site like JustGiving.

As well as saving the charity thousands of pounds in fees to third parties, figures have shown that people are likely to donate significantly more to a branded fundraising page on our site than they would on a generic fundraising site. This is a huge benefit for the charity and something the whole digital team worked extremely hard to get right. For an example of one of our online fundraising pages, take a look at Andy's 30 before 30 page

8. Feeling alive on #FeelAlive Friday

Every week, an enormous highlight for us is the ever popular #FeelAlive Friday. Our community on Twitter and Facebook simply share a photo of something that made them feel alive this week, and we add them to our gallery with their quote. So far this year we have shared 286 #FeelAlive moments, and have smiled to see every single one. These are a couple of my personal favourites:

9. London bikeathon riders tell the world why they're cycling

I love to work at London Bikeathon on the day. It's such a special atmosphere when people of all different levels of cycling ability and experience from across the capital come together and unite to ride against blood cancer. As well as helping out generally and displaying digital content on the big screen, we have the job of monitoring the Faebook page and Twitter - often riders will tweet if they need advice or manage to get lost! This year it was amazing to see so many of the riders using the signs we had sent them in the post to help spread the word about the event, and our message, to thousands of people online. 

10. Getting in touch with the wider world with our Winter Appeal.

In recent weeks, we have been using our social media channels to spread the word about our winter appeal. The lovely video, featuring the Bradley family, has reached almost 55,000 people on Facebook:

People who received our appeal letter in the post have been filling in and posting us back a polaroid card, sharing the little moments that make Christmas special for them. Our team have been reading all of these and sharing them in a Facebook gallery. Some of these are very moving, some sad and some very cheerful. I think my favourite so far though was this simple message. It's a reminder that through this appeal we have connected with some of the supporters that our digital engagement team would normally never hear from. 

(You can still donate to our Winter appeal!)


Thanks to everyone involved with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research - all the staff, supporters and patients we have been in touch with this year. As we reach the end of another year, the world is a slightly better place, thanks to you.

We'd love to read what your top moments of 2014 have been. To post a blog, log in or sign-up on the site here.



Nice blog Ellie. You guys have done so much great work to help us beat blood cancer this year.

Here's to 2015!


Brilliant blog Ellie! You've done so much this year for social media engagement! Have a great Christmas and here's to 2015! 


Thanks for the namecheck, Ellie. Great blog, great highlights! I'll see you at the 2015 Bikeathon - 52 miler next year. Keep up the good work.

Ellie Dawes

Hurrah! And don't worry I'm sure there will be first aiders on hand... :- /

Thanks for all your support this year Ali! x