Marysol runs marathons


For today’s #FundraiserFriday, we’re delighted to feature a guest blog about Paris Marathon runner and Prostate Cancer Research Centre fundraiser, Marysol Sanchez Gonzalez.

Marysol Sanchez Gonzalez started running when her husband Roberto was diagnosed with prostate cancer almost 7 years ago. After intensive therapy he is now cancer free and in his 5th year of total remission.

Marysol is a busy women, looking after two restaurants in London, two restaurants in Madrid and two sons, all of which she looks after with the help of her husband.

Marysol started small, with Hyde Park and Regent’s Park Race for Life and has gradually over the years increased to 10k distance, half marathons – a personal favourite being Silverstone) – and full marathon distances. To date she has completed in the London Marathon on two occasions, the Berlin Marathon, the extremely cool Mexico City Marathon. In 2015, Marysol is running the Silverstone Half Marathon, the Paris Marathon and and Madrid Marathons.. And they’re just the ones she already has confirmed!

All the money Marysol raises through her running is being donated to the Prostate Cancer Research Centre. Marysol tells us how grateful she is for every single donation she receives, every penny goes towards the medical treatment that her husband has received and continues to receive.

Marysol says “I know that the battle is not won, but I will run and run until it is!

You can support Marysol’s most recent fundraising event via her Virgin Money Giving page.

Kick start your fundraising with Virgin Money Giving and Cancer Research UK

CRUK Bethany

Virgin Money Giving is offering participants running for Cancer Research UK in the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon the chance to boost their fundraising. For every donation made to an official Cancer Research UK, Virgin Money London Marathon fundraising page between 20 February and 31 March, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win one of five £100 donations.

Just set up your fundraising page on Virgin Money Giving for the official Virgin Money London Marathon event, pick Cancer Research UK, as your charity of choice and once you get your first donation, you’ll be in the running.

Terms and conditions apply, see below for details.

Get started today

  1. Entry to the Cancer Research UK Virgin Money London Marathon Team prize draw (“Prize Draw”) is open to all entrants who create or have created a page on the Virgin Money Giving website (‘Website’) to raise funds for Cancer Research UK in the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon (‘VMLM’) and have not opted out of marketing communications. Employees of Virgin Money, their immediate family or anyone directly connected to the Prize Draw or operation of the Prize Draw are not eligible.
  1. The Prize Draw will open at 12.00 am on 20 February 2015 and will close at midnight on 31 March 2015 (“Entry period”).
  1. For each donation received on the entrant’s official Cancer Research UK Virgin Money London Marathon fundraising page on the website during the Entry Period, the entrant will receive one entry into the Prize Draw.
  1. All valid entries received within the Entry Period will be entered into the Prize Draw and five winning entries will be drawn independently and at random on/before midnight on 10 April 2015.
  1. The five prizes each consist of a £100 donation made to each winner’s fundraising page. No cash alternative will be offered. The prizes will not be eligible for Gift Aid.  Each winner’s £100 donaton will be made to their fundraising page on/by 13 April 2015.
  1. The winners agree to allow the Promoter to confirm their name and county of residence to other entrants.
  1. The winners’ names and counties of residence will be available upon request by sending a stamped addressed envelope to: Cancer Research UK VMLM Team prize draw, Virgin Money Giving Ltd. PO Box 160, Norwich, NR4 6FS
  1. You personal information will be used to administer the Prize Draw. Unless you have opted out of marketing, you agree that any personal information provided can be used by the Promoter to provide you with information about products or services that may be of interest to you. This may include information about other firms’ products although the Promoter will not disclose your personal information to any third party.  You may be asked but are not under an obligation to participate in non-paid publicity.
  1. The Prize Draw is subject to English law.
  1. Events may occur which renders the Prize Draw itself or the awarding of the prizes impossible due to reasons beyond our control and, accordingly, we may in our absolute discretion vary or amend the Prize Draw and you agree that no liability will attach to the Promoter as a result thereof.
  1. Virgin Money Giving Limited registered in England and Wales (company number 02733492) (“Promoter”). Registered at Jubilee House, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 4PL.

Nine countries, nine days, nine hundred miles

andrew dorran final

Being faced with a large fundraising target can be as daunting as, say, being faced with a 900 mile bicycle ride through nine countries in just nine days. After signing up for the fundraising event ‘Ride 999‘ on a whim, Andrew Doran, a 38-year-old father of two, found himself faced with both.

Andrew didn’t let the overwhelming challenge get the better of him, however, and in just two weeks had raised a massive £2,000.

‘Ride 999′ is the cycling challenge of a lifetime, raising funds for the charity Get Connected. Get Connected is a free support line for those under 25. The charity says “we’re here for you, 365 days a year, for absolutely anything you’re going through. We’re free, confidential, and you can contact us however you’d prefer – by phone, email, text or webchat.” The charity has 100 trained volunteers ready to help with any question a young person might need to ask.

On 23 May, cyclists will set off from England and will cover France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Austria before finishing in Italy on 1 June. The aim of the cycle is to raise enough funds to run Get Connected’s telephone line for a year, supporting 250,000 children, and it still has 15 spaces left for riders of any level.

Andrew says “The past couple of weeks have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster! I really did worry I wouldn’t be able to reach the sponsorship target, but the response I’ve had has been overwhelming, humbling and really quite poignant. Get Connected provide such a vital service to young people who have an issue they don’t know how to deal with – it can be anything from mental health issues or money worries through to homelessness or abuse. I dealt with a period of depression and anxiety at uni and, while I was lucky enough to find support, not everyone knows where to find or how to access help. That’s where Get Connected come in.”

When asked what he’s most looking forward to, Andrew says “meeting my fellow riders, taking in some stunning scenery and most of all, crossing the finish line!”

You can support Andrew on his challenge via his Virgin Money Giving page, and to find out more about the challenge, visit Get Connected‘s website.

Our fifth #DreamMarathon Winner

tom hughes

We are delighted to announce our third Dream Marathon winner, Tom! Tom has won a dream Virgin Money London Marathon experience, including £100 of Adidas kit, two nights in Central London, upgrade to the Green Start and entry to Virgin Money’s after-party.

While he runs, Tom is fundraising for British Red Cross. He says “I started working for the Red Cross three years ago and I was shocked me to see that even in the UK people still struggle to survive on a day to basis against all odds. Sometimes a spell of bad health or a hospital admission can throw someone’s life into a major crisis. Simple things we take for granted such as going to the shops, meeting a friend or even being able to get the heating on in the cold weather can become a huge difficulty and if not dealt with lead to life threatening situations.” The British Red Cross help vulnerable people in the UK and abroad prepare for, withstand and recover from emergencies in their own communities.

When asked why he decided to run the Virgin Money London Marathon, Tom tells us he chose it “because it is a true challenge“. He participated in the event in 2013 and is keen to beat his time of 4 hours 40. Although his training has been hindered by injury, Tom is looking forward to the event, particularly “the amount of food you can eat after the race” as well as, of course, the pride of having completed.

You can support Tom’s run and help him raise funds for British Red Cross via his Virgin Money Giving page.

103-year-old marathon runner


We’ve heard of people running marathons, we’ve heard of people running more than one marathon and sometimes several in a row. Today’s #FundraiserFriday star has run nine marathons in the past four years and, what makes Fauja Singh even more special, he is 103-years-old.

Fauja, who is a great grandfather and is believed to be the world’s oldest marathon runner, is calling on people to take part in Age UK’s 10k and 2k events, taking place throughout March in: Tatton Park, Cheshire on the 1st, Harewood House, Leeds on the 8th and Crystal Palace, London on the 22ndAge UK supports vulnerable older people across the country in many different ways, such as tackling loneliness.

Fauja may be retired, but he certainly isn’t slowing down, and often jogs or runs for over four hours a day. He says “Running gives me a sense of purpose and I believe keeping fit and active is so important for health and well-being.  I had no idea I would live this long or achieve anything, but running has done wonders for me and if I can do it, anyone can“.

When asked about the charity, Fauja says “I’ve supported Age UK for many years and know just how important their work is in supporting older people to live well and enjoy life. Taking part in their 10k Series is a way you can help make a huge difference to people in later life, while taking on a fitness challenge of your own this Spring, so I would encourage people of all ages and abilities to sign up.”

You can support Fauja’s cause by donating to Age UK, or sign up to run one of Age UK’s 10k events via the Age UK website or by calling 0800 169 8787.

RideLondon competitions


Ballot places for the 2015 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 were sent out last week in the form of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ magazines. No matter which one you received, or if you hadn’t entered at all, we have a competition for you.

If you were lucky enough to receive a place, we have a competition that will make your place all the more special. As the official fundraising partner for the ride, we’ll be giving away a truly beSpoke experience to one lucky winner each month until June. The prize includes Grandstand tickets for two, £100 donation to your Virgin Money Giving page, breakfast with the VIPs and a 6 month Virgin Active health club membership. Entering is easy – set up your page with us and start fundraising. Every online donation you receive on your 2015 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 page gives you one entry into that month’s competition. The earlier you start and the more donations you get, the better your chance of winning!

On the other hand, if you weren’t one of the lucky people to receive a Yes magazine through the door, we have a second competition which will see us give away 10 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 places! Entering is easy, visit our Facebook page and answer a simple question to be entered into the draw.

If you have any queries about either competition or about the event, please contact our team.

Oa’s very personal challenge


Many people fundraise in celebration of a person who beat an illness, or in memory of a person who lost their battle, making the challenge very personal. However, challenges don’t come more personal than Oa Mackdonald’s, who is fundraising for Big C: Norfolk’s Cancer Charity after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Oa was diagnosed with breast cancer on the 28th July at the age of 28-years-old. The months after the diagnosis were understandably extremely tough. Oa says, “The day I was diagnosed is still a blur to me. I just remember I had a million thoughts running through my head as I tried to take in all the information about stages, treatments and side-effects. Something I do remember clearly, though, is being told I would lose my hair as a result of chemotherapy. A few weeks later, after taking some time to come to terms with all the changes which were about to happen to me, I decided that chemotherapy would not take my hair away, but rather I would be the one to give it away.”

Upon making this big decision, Oa decided to use the event to raise money for a charity which she describes as being “invaluable” to her family and herself since her diagnosis; Big C.  Big C was created after two young men from Norfolk found themselves having to travel to London or Cambridge for their cancer treatment. The Big C say that the two men “often found this journey harder than the treatment itself and they vowed the people of Norfolk & Waveney would have access to the best treatment and support in their local areas.” Since the appeal began in 1980, the charity has raised over £20 million.

As well as fundraising for Big C, Oa also decided to donate her hair to a children’s wig charity called Little Princess. Little Princess provide real-hair wigs, free of charge, to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment.

Oa tells us more “I arranged a head-shaving party for a week after my first chemo session, which was just before my hair would start to fall out, and set up a Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. I was determined that more good could come out of the bad. The Big C Centre has been invaluable to my family and I, offering a friendly face for a chat and cuppa, as well as providing information and sessions on nutrition, exercise and emotional well-being. There are also workshops available that range from scarf tying to make-up sessions. Although losing my hair was incredibly emotional and hard, I took comfort in the fact that I had donated my hair and also raised vital funds for a local cancer charity. It also allowed me to re-gain some control and decide for myself when I was going to loose my hair, and not leave it to chemo to decide!

On January 2nd 2015 I finished chemotherapy and I will start the next stage of my treatment in the coming weeks. Chemotherapy isn’t the easiest thing to go through and there have been some really tough times, but also some very special times too; I have now raised over £7,500 for the Big C as a result of the fantastic support I received from everyone who chose to make a donation.”

You can sponsor Oa retrospectively for the challenge she undertook via her Virgin Money Giving page.

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