When I was asked to write a guest blog, I wondered where to start. Do I tell everyone a bit about me (the Full Monty!), or try to explain how I got into fundraising and the enjoyment I get out of it?
So let’s start when I was just a wee lad. We are all encouraged to support school fundraisers, be it a sponsored swim, silence, or Christmas craft fair. But when I was just 11 years old, I was also supporting the Leonard Cheshire home in Great Bromley, Essex, as part of a Westbourne High School project. This involved me taking part in fundraising at fetes and events after school; and is also where I met a certain young lady (Karen) doing the same thing.
I had the pleasure of being one of those children who’s dad had a super-cool job. He was a fire-fighter (Bond Street, Ipswich), and every week we went swimming with other fire-fighters and their families. When there was a terrible fire at Bradford City football ground in 1985. I asked him whether I could do a sponsored swim in aid of the Fire Benevolent Fund (now the Fire-Fighters Charity). I swam 20 lengths of the Fore Street Swimming Baths. I think that was the first time I was aware of the plight of other people and that I could do something, however small, to help them.
I joined the 24th Ipswich Scouts in September 1985 (initially against my parents wishes!) and although I resigned from that group in November 2009 to join the Camille’s Appeal team, I am still active in scouting as a Scout Active Support member, supporting the current leaders with catering, marshalling and manpower at big events (e.g. the fireworks in Christchurch Park).
I remember well an ordinary day in 2009 in my (then new) role at the Port of Felixstowe, when amongst my mornings emails I received one seeking support for my colleague, Hayley Shave, whose daughter had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. I decided to attend a meeting of those interested in supporting Hayley, a meeting that has changed my focus on life over the last two and a half years. Learning about Camille and her fight has made me determined to “DO MY BEST” to assist her, and children like her, in recovering from their illness. I cannot begin to tell you how I felt as I read Martin's blog every week to find out the latest on Camille's condition. But I felt that as an experienced fundraiser within Scouting, with a reputation for organising fun events, I could assist a family in need so they could continue to care for Camille and the rest of their family.
As anyone in fundraising will tell you, it is not easy to come up with the next big event or idea to promote to the general public. It is vital to build up relationships with donors to ensure that we can count on their support in the future. This is where I hope that the Camille's Appeal does a great job. Behind every event on the website there is just a small team of people putting in hundreds of volunteering hours. I love the interaction with the other stall holders at local events that I attend to promote Camille's Appeal. I make sure though, that I get across the most important message; that we are making steady steps towards the introduction of a rehabilitation programme at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and we are pleased to have helped to keep family units together whist children receive proton therapy treatment abroad.
Recently the tables were turned on me when I received another life changing email, beginning
“Dear Mr Bethell – Congratulations - your moment to shine!”.
Unbeknown to me, Martin and Hayley had nominated me to carry the Olympic Torch. What a privilege and honour to read their kind words of thanks and to be told how much they appreciate my efforts. As you might have guessed by now; I am not in fundraising for personal gain. Their letter of nomination thanking me for my effort was far more than I would have expected. But I never look a gift horse in the mouth and saw a golden opportunity to promote Camille’s Appeal to a wider audience.
On 16th March I received final confirmation, “Dear Mr Bethell, we are pleased to announce that you are now part of the London 2012 team and will be carrying the torch on the 7th July in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk”. To keep it a secret for three days until the national launch was almost too much to bear! Full details of the route will be posted on Camille’s Appeal website and Facebook Page nearer the time.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people, Firstly, my school teacher who not only encouraged me to fundraise, but also introduced me to my rock (every man has one) Karen Damant. I’d really struggle to do half of what I do if she was not there. Then my parents for being good role models, teaching me right from wrong, and allowing me to continue in Scouting to help children learn life skills. Then of course there is Martin and Hayley Shave for allowing me into their lives. I could not be prouder to represent them and Camille’s Appeal on 7th July. And the final thought is to all those parents whose children who have been through this illness. You are all in my thoughts and I will be thinking of you all as I run every step.
We could not do the great work we are doing without your continued support for Camille’s Appeal. I therefore would like to invite you (it would be wrong to have the fundraising guy's blog without a plug for the next event!) to Christchurch Park in Ipswich on the 1st July. We are looking for 149 (one place is reserved for me!) people, who we hope will raise a minimum of £100 for Camille's Appeal and take part in our Reverse Bungee event at the (free to enter) Ipfestival. Email email@example.com for further information.
If you’d like to support Camille's Appeal and would like to see me suffer yet more, I will be cycling around London on the 9th June in the 100km Nightrider event. To sponsor me and include a fancy dress outfit suggestion, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/stewart-bethell2
by Stewart Bethell
Editors note: For more information about volunteering to help Camille's Appeal visit the volunteering section of our website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop along to the stall and speak to Stewart or one of our other volunteers. Volunteering can be hugely rewarding and can take up as little or as much time as you would like to spare.