Id always said that I wanted to give something back to others and the community, and when I had a personal experience with pre cancer cells back in 2007 I decided it was time to get out there and start making a difference.
I am now an active member of the Midlands Action Team for Cancer Research UK, and take part in regular fundraising, volunteering and help spread the word for various events, as well as being lucky enough to plan all of my company's corporate fundraising as part of my job (how lucky am I!) :)
The sense of achievement from doing these things is amazing! Although I do give a small amount by direct debit each month, I cant always afford to give money, or sponsorship, particuarly when many of my friends take part in fundraising events as well. What I can do however, is give my time and energy. It costs nothing and the gratitude and pride I get in return is hard to explain! :)
The Midlands Action Team is set up to be completely flexible. I dont have to say when I can volunteer or how often I can volunteer, I simply sign up to the mailing group. If an opportunity comes up, they pass it on and I can help as and when I am able to do so - no pressure, no routine, and no two experiences have ever been the same! By taking part not only have I met some amazing people, and made some great friends, but I have also been able to feel that I've made a difference, I've made someone smile, or I've supported those Cancer Research UK fundraisers that are getting themselves out there for the good of others, and maybe ticking something off their bucket lists at the same time! :)
Here are some examples of the work I have done over the last number of years:
Birmingham Half Marathon 2010
In October, the Midlands Action Team supported the 546 CRUK runners taking part by clapping, wooping and generally making lots of noise. A small task but very gratefully received. Amazing the appreciation you get just for smiling clapping and cheering the names of the runners. Very rewarding and lots of fun.. (if not resulting in slightly itchy hands!)
Non Smoking Day
In March 2010, I helped man a CRUK stand in Touchwood Shopping Centre for Non Smoking Day. With advice leaflets, collections, and the classic "jar of tar" as well as carbon breathalisers this day had real impact, particularly on the young teens who were clearly quite shocked by the results!
Gadget Show 2010
CRUK were lucky enough to be donated a stand at the Birmingham Gadget Show, myself and other volunteers spread the word about the charities Relay for Life events, and raised over £120 in donations on the day.
Annual Lab Tour and Biggest Breakfast / Volunteer Conference
Many of the West Midlands CRUK volunteers get together for the annual lab tours at Birmingham University's Cancer Labs where we were able to see first hand what the money is being used for. I was also asked to talk at the Birmingham Volunteer Conference about my fundraising and what Iv been involved in from the corporate side of things. Nerve wracking but fun! :)
To raise money for Prostate Cancer our company took part in Movember 2010, with men growing moustaches all through november and getting sponsored for their efforts. Not to be outdone, the girls got together to show their support! :) With half the month gone we have raised almost £400 and have some great looking Mo's to match (not me of course ;)!)
Shugborough Stride 2009
This involved marshalling the many walkers taking part in a sponsored walk to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month - despite having to stop traffic and almost getting trampled by a cow, this was a highly enjoyable experience - particuarly laughing at some of the more elaborate costumes! :)
Pink Days - Annually
My company has pink days every year to raise money for CRUK's Breast Cancer Awareness month - great to see some of the lads really getting into the spirit and embracing their more feminine side! :) As a company we have raised over £3000 in the last 3 years, which for a SME is pretty impressive! :)
If anyone hasnt donated themselves to charity before - DO IT! Its an amazing experience, and you wont regret it! :)
If you want to read more about the fundraising please check out my blog http://csrcentral.wordpress.com/