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This time next year we’ll be millionaires!

This time next year we'll be millionaires

Not likely, unless I finally win the EuroMillions, but as someone who has watched a lot of Only Fools and Horses that just felt like the obvious end to the start of that sentence. In actual fact this time next year I will be in Peru ready to tackle the great Inca Trail Trek! (For more information about my great challenge see my I know what I’m doing blog post)

It’s quite scary really, I signed up to the challenge six short months ago and I do not know where that time has gone! When I signed up I was scared of what I was getting myself in to, I didn’t do a great deal of exercise (mainly walking and pole dance class), I didn’t really know anything about the Inca Trail (I now know a little bit about it) and I was terrified of committing myself to raising a minimum of £3800 – a huge sum of money, substantially more than any figure I have raised for charity previously.

Six short months down the line and I’ve already raised well over half of that amount, and a whole year of fundraising to go! My fitness levels are at the best they have ever been, and although I haven’t started training for long walks I’m pretty confident that my fitness and stamina will be a great help when I finally get around to long walks and hikes….which I WILL get around to soon, I promise!

I’ve suddenly realised that I haven’t actually updated you all on my fundraising activities. At my last update I mentioned that I’d reached the halfway point, and that raffle ticket sales were going well as I’d raised £500 at that point. After the last ticket was sold I’d actually made £706 from the raffle, a fantastic result and a hell of a lot more than the £250 I had hoped for!

Just a small selection of the books I'll be clearing out of my house

Just a small selection of the books I’ll be clearing out of my house

My next fundraising activity is going to be a book sale at work next month. I have a load of books lying around the house that I don’t need, and could certainly do with freeing up the space they are currently occupying…. I could always do with freeing up space in my house! I also have some fantastic colleagues who have generously offered to donate loads of books they no longer want or need so we’re freeing up space all over the place at the minute…. until we spend our pennies at the book sale and bring fresh reading material home that is!

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The (blogging) holiday is over

OK, so I’ve been very naughty lately, only one one post in the past three weeks and that was a video of my cat! (If you haven’t seen my coffee drinking cat, here he is!) But I had a good reason, my PC some how (I’m TOTALLY the innocent party here) got itself a virus which has taken a while to get it sorted and removed, and trying to write a blog post on my iPad is an absolute nightmare, so I’m afraid I took a little holiday from all things blog related, but it’s time to get back to work!

My fundraising efforts are ticking along nicely. I’m still working on the raffle, so don’t have any big projects on the horizon just yet, I’ll worry about that after the raffle is drawn at Easter time. My mam is doing great with selling raffle tickets, so big shout out to my mam 🙂  I also need to do a shout out to some of my former colleagues who very generously held an honesty box bake sale during Fairtrade Fortnight, and donated the proceeds towards my cause. It’s truly amazing how helpful other people have been, (and no doubt will continue to be!) in my fundraising challenge, I am very appreciative!

Insight Magazine, St Cuthbert's Hospice

Insight Magazine, St Cuthbert’s Hospice

Also, I’m almost famous in the St Cuthbert’s Hospice Community! The article below was included in their magazine which is sent out to their supporters and volunteers, which includes quite a few people I know, so I’ve had the whole “I’ve seen you in the Hospice magazine!” conversation a few times. Embarrassingly I forgot to tell my family that I was going to be in there, and my mam found out through her friend…oops!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In other news I am donating my time and talents to Marie Curie Cancer Care, having signed up as the Secretary for the recently launched Local Fundraising Group in my town. We’ve only had one official meeting so far, so we’re a very new group.

Launch meeting of our Local Community Fundraising Group for Marie Curie Cancer Care

Launch meeting of our Local Community Fundraising Group for Marie Curie Cancer Care

That being said we’ve already orchestrated a collection day at a local supermarket as part of the Great Daffodil Appeal, which raised over £600 in one day! Our next group meeting will be focused on planning a Blooming Great Tea Party in June, which is another flagship event of the charity. I was a little apprehensive at first about signing up, particularly as I have quite a bit going on at the moment with my own personal fundraising efforts, but now I’m just excited to bring on a new challenge and in doing my part to help more people… it’s a fab feeling 🙂

That’s it until next time, and I promise it will not be as long before my next post… (maybe I should start writing it now just to be sure!!)

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Keep Calm and Buy Raffle Tickets

Keep Calm and Buy Raffle Tickets

in the last two week’s I (with the help of my colleagues) have made some great progress with the raffle I’m going to do at Easter time, and have been contacting local businesses for donations of prizes, which is going really well and I’m now itching to start selling raffle tickets!

Last week I received a fantastic donation towards the raffle, a brand new Kindle Fire HD given to me by an old school friend who is a successful travel blogger, you can find his inspirational blog, Man vs Clock, here. Anthony won the Kindle through this blog, but Royal Mail couldn’t guarantee that it would actually reach him on his travels and so it stayed with his mam until he kindly offered it towards my raffle. A great big thanks to Anthony for his kind generosity; the Kindle is definitely one of the top prizes available!

I’ve also managed to get prizes such as an overnight stay in the suite of a local Castle, vouchers for meals in local restaurants, spa visits, treatments etc, so it’s all coming along nicely and I’m expecting more prizes to trickle in over the next week – for my first raffle it’s all rather exciting!

Let them eat cake!

“Where’s she been hiding?” You may well be wondering this as I did my blog post earlier than usual last week. I had intended to write an additional post mid-week, and had even half drafted it last week with a reflection on my participation in Zero to Hero challenge, and I just haven’t had chance to go back to it! I’m keeping this post shorter than what seems to be my usual standard, because after one very busy and hectic week I’m ready to chill out for a whole hour (if I’m lucky) before I go to bed.

So, no doubt you’re wondering what has kept me so busy? Well, this week I’ve been a good little fundraiser and made some excellent progress towards my challenge. This time last week I had raised a total of £626.01 towards my financial target of £3800. In the past week I have more than doubled that sum (just!), raising £627.41 in one week, bringing the grand total to £1253.42! What a fantastic week, and any doubts or concerns that were floating around my head last week (after I realised that I hadn’t really done much during December and January) have been blown away and my confidence is back!

So, how did I manage to raise this figure in less than a week when it had taken three months to previously achieve that figure? Well the majority of those funds came from a bake sale and tombola at work which I had been planning and preparing for a few weeks. Thanks to the generosity, kindness, support and awesome baking skills of my friends, family, colleagues and neighbours, who provided a fantastic selection of cakes, I was able to organise (and I quote one of customers who commented on my Facebook) “the best bake sale yet”. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to take photographs of everything set up, however one of my colleagues did take a few photos for me, some of which I’ve included here for your enjoyment…

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I am very pleased to say that this and the tombola (the money all went in to one pot so I’m not sure how much came from the tombola but my guess is about £30-£40) I raised just over £400. I even have cakes left over and I’m still trying my luck to squeeze out a few more donations where possible!

Yesterday I spent the day in a local supermarket again (the same as last time) and collected £147.14 – that’s 60p less than last time (isn’t that strange?), which is a little disappointing as I was there for a lot longer yesterday.  It could well be that Monday’s are more profitable when coin collecting in supermarkets, I suppose the only way to know for sure will be more coin collection days!

In addition to the bake sale and coin collecting I also received sponsorship money from a number of people, all of which has added up to my most successful week yet!

I have a few other fundraising activities in the pipeline which will hopefully pull off in the next few months. I’m also planning on holding a raffle over Easter (I didn’t hold a raffle alongside the cake sale as I was still waiting to hear back about a few prizes, and I’m glad I did as those prizes have now been offered to me!) so I’m going to be working on approaching local businesses for even more prizes to donate. If you’re reading this and you feel you have a product or service which you can offer as a prize please get in touch 🙂

Signing off now for that chill out hour I was talking about…. I didn’t really keep this post that short did I? Ooops

How a monster hiding in a lake has helped me in my fundraising

It scares me how quickly the weekends seem to come around lately. I get to this time of day on a Sunday (late afternoon) and suddenly realise that I haven’t written a blog post in the past week and if I don’t get something written today I just know I won’t have time to write one until next weekend…. and I don’t want to get in to that pattern! I feel like Sunday afternoons/evenings have somehow become ‘blog time’ and it’s become a little part of my routine. It’s great when I have something in mind to blog about, but sometimes I have a little panic about what I’m going to write! That doesn’t apply to this post however, I’ve been rather busy the past two weeks, and have a story to tell behind my activity, so I have plenty to share!

Two weeks ago I set myself some targets, (see here) for my fundraising, targets which were to be completed within one week, and two out of the three were… I just didn’t have time to blog about it.

Speak to local supermarkets about arranging another coin collection day    

I’m very pleased to say that I have spoken with one supermarket, (I will get around to speaking to others, I promise!) and have another coin collecting day in the diary, so in two weeks time I’ll be counting up the pennies so I can tell you how much I’ve raised.

Make enquiries in to holding a bake sale at work

Again, (feeling a little smug here) I have completed this target. I am holding a bake sale in just under two weeks time. And, I’ve already managed to recruit a fair number of friends, family and colleagues to assist me, by providing baked goods – both home-made and shop bought. I’ve produced posters which are now sitting proudly on the back of the door to the toilets (the only place I’m allowed to put them) and have sent a mass e-mail to everyone working in the building so hopefully I’ll have a good turn out!

Ask friends and family to donate any unwanted Christmas gifts that would be suitable as prizes for a raffle

I can’t feel too smug about this one as I only got around to doing this in the past few days, so a little behind schedule, but hey, it’s done so lets not dwell on that too much. I’m pleased to say that I’ve got some very generous friends out there who have offered bits and pieces and I definitely have enough prizes together for a tombola.

In terms of raffle prizes I have been in touch with friends and acquaintances who work for, or run, businesses to see about obtaining prizes of a higher quality which could be used in a raffle. I’m hoping to get enough prizes together in time for the bake sale, but if not I will save these prizes for a future event, or whenever may seem like a good opportunity to run a raffle.

I’m going to tell you about one of the raffle prizes that’s been donated to me as there’s an interesting story behind it which hopefully you won’t mind reading about!

The Langdale Chase Hotel situated on Lake Windermere in the Lake District has provided me with a voucher for Sunday Lunch for two guests. I just want to say a great big thank you to hotelier Thomas ‘The Gladiator’ Noblett for supporting me in my challenge, I am extremely grateful! Thomas is heavily involved in fundraising for charity, having taken on many challenges himself, and has set up his own charity  named “Gladmiral”, a swimming charity for disadvantaged children.

The Langdale Chase Hotel is a stunning hotel situated on the edge of Lake Windermere, with fantastic views over the lake. My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary here, and we had a lovely stay in the Lake House. The hotel has it’s own boat jetty on to the lake where we sat for ages, just watching the boats go by, all the while keeping an eye out for Bownessie. “Who on earth is Bownessie” I hear you ask, well Bownessie could well be the Loch Ness Monster’s “long-lost cousin”! 

Over the years there have been numerous reports of strange encounters in the lake, one encounter involving Thomas during a training session, (in preparation to swim the English Channel!). It’s all down to Bownessie how I came to be know Thomas, his good friend Andrew ‘The Admiral’ Tighe, and the Langdale Chase Hotel, as I was lucky enough to be included in two searches for Bownessie, invited along by my friend Dean ‘Midas’ Maynard. The first search for Bownessie took place in September 2009, (if memory serves correctly!) and was actually filmed for a TV documentary The Lakes.

Bownessie

Camera crew at the ready!

I didn’t get a starring role in the documentary (thankfully!) but you could see me and my bright blue jacket in two or three shots, which was quite exciting. The second search took place a year later, this search wasn’t filmed for TV but it was just as interesting and just as much fun. Unfortunately Bownessie didn’t make an appearance whilst we were actively searching, but it is a huge lake and I’m sure monsters have much better things to do than to come and say hello to a bunch of humans just because we are there, ready and waiting! It all adds to the mystery too of course, if Bownessie keeps hidden, popping up every now and again whenever suits, rather than all the time, it will encourage people to keep looking!

And that is the story behind my raffle prize, I hope you enjoyed learning all about the monster lurking in the depths of Lake Windermere and I haven’t put you off visiting there!

 

No pain, no gain

That’s how the saying goes, and if it’s true then I should be gaining a lot!

I’ve been pretty active on the exercise front this past week, more active than I’ve ever been in my life I daresay.  I’ve taken on two Zumba classes, one pole dance class followed by a KBX class (Kettle Bell Extreme) and a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class, plus walked 15 miles over 5 days. I would have squeezed one more Zumba class in, but it was early morning and I had a hangover to contend with.

In terms of fundraising, I’m afraid I have let an entire week slip by without actively fundraising! Clearly I cannot allow this to become a habit and I need to give myself a kick up the backside and start making plans on how I am going to achieve my target. I suppose the best way to do that is to set myself mini-tasks and share through my blog, so if I am lazy and don’t do anything you can all give me a kick up the backside!

This coming week I pledge to:

  1. Speak to local supermarkets about arranging another coin collection day
  2. Make enquiries in to holding a bake sale at work
  3. Ask friends and family to donate any unwanted Christmas gifts that would be suitable as prizes for a raffle

On a more positive note I did receive some helpful fundraising tips from a fellow blogger, and a kind donation which was most welcome. Mr BDP has set himself an amazing personal challenge, to give 1 billion dollars to various charities in his lifetime. He is not a billionaire, or a millionaire so the money isn’t just coming from his pocket – Mr BDP is just trying to make the world a better place by doing what he can. I think this is such an amazing personal challenge and will be following him on his quest – why don’t you follow along to?

 

Things I have learnt after a few hours in a supermarket

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Today I’ve been coin collecting at Tesco in Durham market place, and want to say a big thank you to Tesco for giving me a slot so quickly, and the generosity of their staff. I’ve had a really productive day, raising £147.75 in less than five hours (I had to leave for a bit to go to the dentist or I’d have put a full shift in), which is a fantastic boost to my fundraising total so far, I’ve almost doubled it in one day! 

You might think it quite boring to stand in the doorway of a supermarket for so long, but I’ve actually had an interesting day. I love to people watch, and standing there with a big bucket that you’re trying to fill with the loose change in people’s pockets, purses, wallets and hands is the perfect people watching job to be doing. I am often baffled by what I witness when people watching, and often wonder what ever happened to common sense? Here are a few people who baffled me today:

Mr. “I Must Send This Text/E-mail/Tweet RIGHT NOW”

I’ll just set the scene first – the walkway from the tills to the exit doors is pretty narrow, no more than two people can walk alongside each other at one time, and this happened during the busy lunch hour rush. Mr. “I Must Send This Text/E-mail/Tweet RIGHT NOW” decides that just after he has paid for his shopping and is leaving the shop, he MUST send a message on his phone, so he stops dead right in the middle of the narrow exit, discarding the notion of sitting down on the bench two feet away from him. He doesn’t move for at least a minute until the message has been sent, creating chaos behind him as people struggle to get past. What confuses me further is that no one actually said “excuse me” and instead chose to struggle and say nothing!

Another similar situation in the same area, I watched a guy who had dropped something crouch down on to the floor and then stick his leg straight out behind him without even looking, and a poor elderly lady nearly fell straight over it! Seriously, do people like this create havoc everywhere they go, or I’m just been pessimistic?

The “Jokers”

Sadly I noticed this type of mentality in a few people throughout the day, suggesting that there are a number of people who just need to get a life, but there was one person in particular who stood out. A few times I noticed that as people were passing me they seemed to be bouncing change around in their hand or would pull their wallet out for no reason, whilst smirking my way, as if they were depriving me of a slice of cake at a birthday party. I didn’t think too much of it until late in the day when a young lad, maybe late teens or early 20’s, purposely stopped in front of me and told his friends he would catch up. He then proceeded to spend a good two or three minutes rooting around in his backpack, taking things out and putting them back in again, shooting glances at me all the while, only to eventually stand up and walk out whilst trying not to laugh. Thankfully, some of that rare female insight had held me back from expecting any contribution from him, so I did not give him the satisfaction of acting like I was expecting anything, or look disappointed when he left.

I did of course come across some lovely people who really demonstrated that there are still some kind souls out there

The Explainers

I really appreciated the “explainers” as they made sure that I didn’t feel invisible and that I was somebody to be avoided – which is sadly how many people acted (and no doubt how I have acted before when passing a collection tin and have no money!). These type of people included those who contributed and those who didn’t. Whether it was just to explain that they only had 5p on them, or that they only had lots of small coins in their purse, or that they didn’t have any change with them, or even that they already donate to the hospice, they all felt it necessary to interact with me and explain their situation. I feel that they have taught me a valuable lesson, and I will never again walk past a coin collector without acknowledging their presence!

The Supporters

I’m classing anyone who stopped to talk to me about the Hospice, or that I was collecting for charity, a “supporter” as I couldn’t really think of another term which summed them up. The supporters included at least three people who all volunteer or fundraise for the Hospice themselves so it was lovely to meet them and hear about what they do. I spoke with a number of people who have had experience with the work of the Hospice with their own family members, and it was great to hear their kind words of support and about their own experiences. I also met a man training a guide dog for the blind, who told me that having a dog with you really helps collections – he was once stood in the street with the dog and his can of pop and someone tried to put money in his can! If only I could train my cats up to come collecting with me and we could be on to a winner!

All in all it’s been a good day for fundraising and inspired me to arrange more coin collection days!