A Marathon for The Children’s Trust

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Paul Prothero, the leader of the Reigate and Cheam British Military Fitness  (BMF)  group, is taking on a new challenge for 2015. As an ex-member of the military and a personal trainer, he is a seasoned Marathon runner, regularly completing sub- 3 hour marathons.

For 2015, Paul is taking on a different kind of marathon challenge. He hopes to inspire a group of people from his BMF group to take on their own challenge by bringing together a group of non-runners, old and young members to run the marathon – the dream team were selected from 75 applications.  And whilst he is at it, he is looking to hit a massive new fundraising target; £50,000.

Paul has chosen The Children’s Trust, a local charity based in Tadworth.  The Children’s Trust provide rehabilitation, education, therapy and care at their specialist centre which supports children and families from across the UK. They also offer services in communities around the country as well as online support for parents. The Events Manager at The Children’s Trust is a long standing member of the BMF group and has given them team bond places in the event.

Paul and his team are aiming to raise £50,000 for the Children’s Trust through various fundraising activities leading up to the big day, £18,000 over the target the charity itself set. 2014 signifies the 5 year anniversary of the BMF group and Paul used this anniversary to hold a charity ball for all its past and present members. Using local contacts and volunteers, Paul managed to raise over £14,000 from this event alone.

As a parent himself, and due to be a Dad again for the third time in September, Paul admires the efforts of the charity. “As a parent I can only imagine the heart ache of having to live with a child with significant medical needs.”

You can keep track of Paul’s amazing progress and help support the team via their Virgin Money Giving page.

Paul’s charity is using the newly launched Virgin Money Giving Campaigns tool to create Paul’s fundraising page. The tool allows a charity to create event hubs such as this, as well as charity of the year pages and appeals pages. Find out more via the website.

Le cure de France

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The Royal Marsden cancer charity cares for 50,000 patients each year and when Marianne Butler became one of them, her friends knew they had to do something to help. What they couldn’t have known was that a night of red wine would result in them undertaking “a full Mount Everest of vertical climbing“. Dan Shute tells us how it all came about;

There was no way I was going to make it up Ditchling Beacon. I knew that before I started trying, and I REALLY knew it about 100m up. So I stopped. I’d dug deep into my well of stubborn reserve, and been found well-wanting. As I slowly started to trudge up the hill, a queue of impatient, and – frankly – unsupportive cars forming behind me, the enormity of what we’d taken on sank in for the first time. Exhausted as I was, I still had the energy to be terrified.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In September 2013, Marianne Butler, or Manny, as we’d always known her, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. This was the first time cancer had struck this close to home for most of us, and it hurt. We cried, we laughed, we told dark jokes; we did all the things that we assumed you did when you were faced with something like this. And, as Manny bravely – and without once hesitating – started to undergo treatment, we started to think about how we could help: how we could show how much we loved her, and how angry we were that cancer had tried to take her away from us.

So four of us got together, over some heartening red meat and some confidence-inducing red wine, to agree a plan. As a bunch of people the wrong side of 30, and with our bodies (particularly the knees – oh, the knees) in various states of disrepair, our options were somewhat limited. Running was out (remember the knees), and swimming just wasn’t going to happen… We’d all met in the mountains, so some kind of endurance-skiing seemed like a lovely idea – but ‘lovely’ wasn’t really what we were looking for. And then someone mentioned the Tour de France. Cycling. Cycling in the mountains…

And Le Cure de France was born (ah, shoot us, we love a pun). To ensure our confidence hadn’t dissipated by morning, we announced our intentions on Facebook; the next day, hungover, delicate, and slightly less confident, we were locked in. Over the next few days and weeks, the details of the challenge took shape: five days, 500 kilometres, Mont Ventoux, the Galibier, Alpe d’Huez, the Col d’Izoard and the Col d’Ornon; or, to put it another way, a full Mount Everest of vertical climbing. And so the pain began: we were definitely going to need better bikes…

Manny, incredibly, received the all clear in March of this year, thanks in no small part to the treatment she received at the Royal Marsden, thanks to Professor Ian Smith (who, astonishingly, is joining us on the ride) and his team (who, equally astonishingly, aren’t – lazy bloody scientists). And so in September, 28 of us will be hitting the Alps. We’ll be pedalling for them, our legs will be burning for them and our lungs will be bursting for them: to say thank you for beating the cancer that tried to take Manny away, and to ensure that when cancer comes at you, or someone you love, they will be there to beat it again.

Right. Time to get back on the sodding bike. If I can’t even handle Ditchling…

You can visit the team’s fantastic website or go straight to donate via their Virgin Money Giving page.

Nigel on a Butcher’s Bike

full team

This morning we were delighted to welcome ex-Royal Marine and Special Forces veteran Nigel Thomas to the Virgin Money offices in Gosforth office. Nigel made a pit-stop during his mammoth Land’s End to John o’ Groats cycle and even picked up a few Virgin Money colleagues to accompany him on part of his journey. Nigel is riding a single-gear, 1940’s Butcher’s Bike 1,027 miles from Land’s End to John o’ Groats as part of his campaign to raise £ 1 million for four charities which support British soldiers – Team Army, Hire a Hero, Walk on Wales and the Ray Gravell Trust 

I’m doing this for all the boys and girls in the Forces who need our help now”, Nigel says “A chance to play the sports that are so vital to their physical and mental well-being, to find a job after leaving the military or perhaps help recovering from injury or illness.”

Nigel was joined by the Hire a Hero assistant CEO, Mike Peckham, and will be joined by two Virgin Money colleagues, Andy Reid-McGlinn and Phil Atkinson. We will also be meeting Nigel in the Virgin Money offices in Edinburgh as he passes through tomorrow 27 August. Virgin Money colleagues in Gosforth came to meet the Butcher’s Bike team and show their support for the challenge, including a number of ex-Army colleagues.

Nigel still suffers from various injuries he collected over the years, so the extremely basic Butcher’s Bike will certainly be a challenge. Nigel admits he is lucky to be able to walk having broken his neck playing rugby in Australia and, after many years in the Royal Marines and UK Special Forces, he knows a few things about survival. “I’m just very practical.” he says. “Everyday life isn’t a walk in the park but I’ve learned that staying motivated, happy and healthy is essential. Life needn’t be a battle but most of us need a helping hand from time to time. 

The public is encouraged to turn up and support Nigel along his route which can be tracked via his website.  Nigel’s goal is to raise as much money as possible for the four charities, you can support him by donating via his Virgin Money Giving page.

Melissa’s very permanent fundraising reminder

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For some people, one fundraising challenge just isn’t enough. One such person is Melissa Grantham who has held a quiz and a sports day, intends to run the BUPA Great South Run, the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon and the Virgin Money London Marathon and even held a lucky dip, the winner of which was allowed to choose a new tattoo for her!

Melissa decided to take on these challenges to fundraise for Alzheimers Research UK after her Nan was diagnosed with degenerative dementia. Melissa tells us “There is no cure, she now lives in a home. As I work full time, this is my way of giving back as I do not get to see her as much as I would like.”

The vision of the charity Alzheimers Research UK is “a world free from dementia“. The charity funds world-class research to prevent, treat and cure dementia as well as helping people to understand the disease. A spokesperson from Alzheimers Research UK said of Melissa’s challenges “There are hundreds of thousands of people across the UK living with dementia today. Despite this, funding for dementia research still lags far behind other serious diseases. We rely on public donations to fund our world-class research and it’s thanks to the commitment of people like Melissa and Laura that we’re able to continue our crucial work.

When asked what gives her that extra push to cross the finish line, Melissa told us that it was her partner, Laura, who will be undertaking the BUPA Great South Run and the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon with her. She added “We both have different breaking points, so having someone to run with is amazing.

Although Melissa’s main fundraising challenges are the three runs, she has been boosting her fundraising with smaller events in the run up. One of these was putting the names of people who donated £5 or more into a hat, picking one at random and the person picked would get to pick her new tattoo! True to her word and thanks to her best friend’s 9-year-old son, Melissa now has a Ghostbusters tattoo on her wrist! We asked Melissa if she had any fundraising tips for someone who wanted to follow in her footsteps, Melissa told us “There is no harm in asking! When I set out to email local businesses for prizes or donations for our fundraiser, I was worried that no one would be able to help us. I was so wrong and overwhelmed by the generosity.

To ensure she raises as much as possible for Alzheimers Research UK, Melissa has given up countless lazy evenings, chilling out watching rubbish TV as well as the skin on her wrist. To help her reach her target, donate via her Virgin Money Giving page.

Planned maintenance on the Virgin Money Giving website

Essential maintenance

We’ll be carrying out overnight maintenance to the Virgin Money Giving website tonight.

As a result the website will be unavailable from 22.00 Wednesday 20 August until 06:00 Thursday 21 August 2014.

We appreciate there’s never a good time to make changes to the website, and do our best to schedule the outages over night and when the website is quieter. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but it’s important for us to carry out this type of maintenance to ensure our system runs efficiently to support your fundraising.

If you have any questions or there’s anything we can help with please email theteam@virginmoneygiving.com and our helpdesk team will get back to you from 9:00 Thursday morning.

Help Save the Children save lives with MineCraft

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Videogame personality Dan Maher and Minecrafter Chris Doney are on an adventure to build a virtual clinic so that Save the Children can build a real one – and save children’s lives.

Harnessing the power of the gaming community and combining it with a good cause is a great combination. It’s a simple concept for the millions of Minecrafters to understand and get involved with.

Life in Minecraft is tough, but it doesn’t compare to the struggles that mothers and babies in Liberia face when they’re deprived of basic healthcare in a hostile environment. With Clinic Craft, the aim to inspire people to do what they love most to aid those most in need.

It’s a perfect time to get kids and adults alike playing Minecraft in a purposeful way over the summer holidays. Let’s show everyone just how inventive and generous Minecrafters really are. Here’s a little snapshot to give you a bit more of an insight:

Visit Clinic Craft* and get crafting!

You can also follow Clinic Craft on Twitter https://twitter.com/ClinicCraft

*Clinic Craft is a collaborative project brought to you by creative Will Aslett, Dan Maher and the guys at Explosive Alan Productions, YouTuber Chris Doney with support from Save the Children UK and The Good Agency.

Win a place in the Sure Run to the Beat 10k

DJ pose

Running to music can be therapeutic, it can motivate you, relax you or even give you that extra push to achieve a Personal Best!

Sure Run to the Beat has DJ’s blasting out all kinds of motivational music round the 10k course.  So not only can you enjoy running with lots of others, there will be a soundtrack along the way too!

London’s music 10k takes place in Wembley Park on Sunday 14 September 2014. In previous years the event has been a Half Marathon and has helped 96,000 runners to achieve their goals. This year you only need to be able to run 10k to get the same unique experience and we’re giving a place away for free.

All you need to do to enter is;

1. Visit the Virgin Money Giving Facebook page

2. Add a comment on the Sure Run to the Beat post telling us why you’d love to run in this years event

The prize draw will close at 12 noon on Friday 22 August and we’ll be announcing the winner on the Virgin Money Giving Facebook page – so don’t forget to click ‘like’ to see if you’ve won.

Good luck!

Terms and conditions apply

  1. Entry to the Win a Place in the Sure Run to the Beat event (“Prize Draw”) is open to all UK residents aged 18 or over at the date of entry
  2. The Prize Draw will open at 9am on 18 August 2014 and will close at 12 noon on 22 August 2014.
  3. All valid entries received within the entry period will be entered into a prize draw and three winning entries will be drawn independently.
  4. The prize is a place in this year’s Sure Run to the Beat event on 14 September 2014. No cash alternative will be offered.
  5. The winners’ agrees to allow the Promoter to confirm their name and county of residence to other entrants.
  6. The winners name and county of residence will be available upon request by sending a stamped addressed envelope to: Virgin Money Giving Win a Place, Virgin Money Giving Limited, 28 St Andrews Square, Edinburgh, EH2 1AF.
  7. Personal information provided by entrants will be used to administer the Prize Draw.
  8. Virgin Money Giving Limited registered in England and Wales (company number 02733492) (“Promoter”). Registered at Jubilee House, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 4PL.

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