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Guest blog: Less than sixteen weeks to the London Marathon!

wes-blog-post.jpgWes Javis tells of his fundraising efforts to boost his Virgin Money London Marathon total for MS-UK and offers some tips on getting those all important funds...

Less than sixteen weeks to go! That was the somewhat terrifying realisation that came to me after the indulgences of Christmas. In less than four months, along with so many people with such inspiring stories to tell, I’ll be lining up to run the Virgin Money London Marathon – something that I’ve always wanted to do, and to have the opportunity to run for MS-UK is just fantastic! I’ll be running in memory of my Nan – she lived with MS for around 20 years and was bed-bound for the last 10 years of her life. Despite her cruel reality, Nan was always upbeat, always saw the bright side, and always wore a beaming smile. It is a smile that I’ll never forget and she is the reason I am motivated to take on this challenge.

When I first realised that I’d be running the marathon I pulled together a quick fundraising schedule. I belong to quite a small, close-knit friendship group and three of us are running in London for different causes. Rather than competing in our fundraising we decided that it was in everybody’s best interests to collaborate in our events to maximise our fundraising potential. To date we’ve organised three large events, all of which proved to be fantastic successes and surpassed our expectations!

On 12 August, we kicked things off with a golf day as we knew that after August there would be even fewer guarantees with the Great British weather! We contacted a few local courses and found one close-by which offered great rates for good causes. We negotiated a great price for breakfast and lunch with two rounds of golf – they even threw in a pint of beer per head! The turnout was fantastic and we maximised our income by running a small raffle, and a few competitions including ‘longest drive’ and ‘nearest the pin’. After splitting the proceeds three ways we made a great early contribution towards each of our targets.

Then came our afternoon tea event on 23 September. I’ll be honest and say that we initially came up with this one after scratching our heads about what the ‘mums would like’! The reality was quite different and we needed a bigger room than anticipated after a great response from colleagues, family, friends and even friends of friends. Again, we located a venue that offered us a private room for free and a reduced cost per head. Another small raffle helped us on our way – pestering local businesses for prizes has really paid off and each raffle has raised nearly as much as the events in their own right – a great way to raise extra pennies and to have a little fun doing it!

Our Curry Night on 10 November was our most recent event, and the biggest yet by far! We found a local restaurant. We set it up as a public event on Facebook and once again the response was incredible, on several occasions we increased our booking until we reserved an entire floor! Somewhere in the region of 200 people joined us for what was a great fundraiser. We’d taken deposits, so even the handful of people who didn’t make it on the night contributed to our total. Our third raffle included an iPad, donated by one of our employers, which generated huge interest and took our combined profit on the night to £1,600.

We may look to run a further event in the next few months, but equally we may avoid doing so to give our poor friends and family a well-earned rest!

If I can take any key messages away from the fundraising experience so far, or pass on advice to any of the other MS-UK fundraisers, they’d be:

  • Call upon the generosity of local businesses. Do not be deterred by polite rejections, you’ll get 20 of those for every donation! Craft an email and scour the web for email addresses, what’s the worst they can say?!
  • Don’t underestimate your friends and family! Spread out your fundraisers and they’ll keep coming back whether it’s a curry, a quiz or even a sports day. The possibilities are endless.
  • Most importantly, don’t be overwhelmed by the total you must raise! Break it up into chunks, plan month-by-month and you’ll soon be on your way!

Wes