Powering the hours: why I support Marie Curie

So I thought I’d take the time today to write about a cause that I’ve supported for a long time now that’s close to my heart. Marie Curie, for those of you who may not know (or are perhaps one of my many international readers) are the UK’s largest charitable funder of palliative care and end of life research, investing in research that improves care and facilities for people who are living with any terminal illness.

My involvement with Marie Curie started about eight years ago, and in quite a round about way. I had gone to London to the Hammersmith Apollo to see The Saturdays, a girl group I really loved at the time (and still do, to be honest) on their then current UK tour. As I was leaving after the gig, there were volunteers collecting at the doors for Marie Curie, so I dropped in a bit of spare change and they gave me a flyer. This flyer told me all about the Great Daffodil Appeal, their annual campaign (and also their biggest) that runs every year from February to April where they sell daffodil pin badges to raise money.

About a week later, I saw a video on The Saturdays’ website where they’d volunteered a couple of hours at Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush for that year’s Great Daffodil Appeal after becoming patrons. I thought it looked like a fun thing to do for a good cause, so I got onto the Marie Curie website, and signed up to do a collection shift near me, in St Alban’s which was the nearest location to me at the time. It was great fun, and the money myself and a team of other volunteers raised that day was £2500.

I kept supporting Marie Curie in the years after, but it’s only really in the last three or four years that I’ve stepped up my involvement in volunteering for them. I always sign up to do at least two collection shifts every time Great Daffodil Appeal rolls around, and likewise when the Autumn/Christmas collections roll around (more on which in a second). And this last year, I’ve got more involved with my local fundraising group in Braintree where I live.

I’ve known a lot of the people on the fundraising team for many years now doing collections (hello ladies if you’re reading), but I’ve also got involved with some of our fundraising events we’ve put on as well. The weekend before last, we hosted a quiz night with a raffle at our local community centre, which was great fun and very well attended. I helped out a lot with the promotion of this and also helping to set up and clear up, and we raised a very impressive £555. Below is a shot I took of the winning team with their prizes.

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Also more recently, I have started volunteering my digital skills and expertise in social media, so I am the assistant on their Twitter account for the East of England and have been creating their content calendar of regular Tweets to help promote different events from the fundraising groups across the region and also drive different fundraising campaigns. It’s really great to be using my skills base here to help out in this way.

So why do I support Marie Curie? Well, they’re a cause close to my heart because, as most people will have experienced at some point in their lives, I’ve had experiences in my family with different illnesses. My dad had an operation for prostate cancer when I was 17. It was thankfully caught early and treated and he’s been all clear for over 10 years now. But on the other side of the fence, my dear late Auntie Jean, who lived in Australia, was terminally ill for much of her later years up until she passed away two years ago.

One thing that always amazes me when I go out on collections in particular is how many people support Marie Curie. The stories I hear from people about how they helped one of their family members or a close friend when they were terminally ill is a reminder of why I do it and who I’m doing it for, and in a way is what keeps me coming back to do it year after year. Someone, somewhere could need their help, but in order for them to continue their breakthrough research and provide their vital nursing and care, they are needing funds all the time.

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Their free Support Line on the phone and online, for example, costs £1.4m to run each year, and £10 to answer every call that comes into this. And as the Support Line also now provides clinical support so everyone can speak to a specialist Marie Curie nurse without the need for referral. It’s essential this service continues, and also that their nurses can continue providing care and support to those with terminal illness who Marie Curie supports and their families.

I’ve just signed up to do my autumn and Christmas collections for this year’s appeals. My first one is this coming Saturday, 2nd November from 9am – 11am, at George Yard Shopping Centre in Braintree. I’m then collecting again on Saturday, 30th November with the team at Sainsbury’s in Tofts Walk, Braintree. If you’re in the area and are able to come along and show your support it’d be much appreciated.

But if you’re reading this and are thinking that you could sign up to give two hours of your time to do a collection shift this Autumn, I say: do it. It’s always enjoyable when I do it, and even the smallest amount raised could make a big difference. £20 could power Marie Curie’s nurses to give an hour of support looking after a terminally ill person.

To find out more about Marie Curie’s work, and to sign up to do a collection shift near you this autumn, please visit their website at www.mariecurie.org.uk. Thank you.

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