As part of ‘UK Charity Week’ (4 - 11 Dec) we’re taking the opportunity to thank all of the many people who help Action Medical Research continue to raise funds for vital research. Here, we’d like to acknowledge the thousands of volunteers across the UK who give their time freely to help us in all sort of ways. From marshalling events, packing Cream Teas, speaking on our behalf to local groups or even organising their own bespoke fundraisers. Some have been volunteering for decades, others have just started their journey with us. Victoria Christodoulides is a 32-year-old Mum of four who lives in Bristol; she put pen to paper to explain why she wanted to help.
Victoria and her husband Dean
I first became aware of Action earlier this year when some friends of mine entered a team for the Trek The Night Cotswolds event. I was due to actually take part myself but because of an injury I ended up being the support driver, which was frustrating but far less strenuous! Before everyone set off on the 40 mile hike, we were given this really inspiring pep talk which went into a bit more detail about how our fundraising was going to help the charity. I was also really impressed with how organised the event was run, with volunteers at every checkpoint appearing so positive and upbeat despite the unearthly hour! It took my team 14 hours to complete the gruelling challenge and so there were many moments of solitary interludes which gave me plenty of time for reflection. I was able to think of the children supported through the charity and the premature baby research really resonated with me.
As a proud mum of four beautiful children (Chloe, 12, Austin, 11, Jemima, 9 and stepdaughter Maria, 9) I really began to appreciate how fortunate we were. Our youngest, Jemima, was born nearly 6 weeks early and was unexpectedly delivered via caesarean as her growth was slowing and therefore caused concern. Born just 4lb, little Moo was so small that I could fit her in my hand. We spent just over two weeks in hospital together, mostly in the NICU ward for babies needing extra care.
I further recalled over the years the many, many times we have been rushed into hospital with her severe asthmatic reactions which is common in premature children. Being part of an organisation that raises awareness and funds for research to help in situations like mine seemed extremely worthwhile and I just knew I wanted to do my bit to help.
After the overnight trek I contacted Action and explained I wanted to get more involved with the charity; very few people I spoke to in Bristol had heard of the organisation and there certainly weren’t many fundraising events actually happening in the city. So after speaking with Tracey (who is the Community Fundraising Manager for the region) we came up with a plan to start creating a brand new committee.
Our first focus is to hold a ‘Diva Lunch’ similar to others across the UK next November 2018. This will include good food, entertainment, prizes and stalls to interest many. From here we would like to continue growing and organise further events across Bristol; it’s such a vibrant community here which I think makes it the perfect region for this journey.
It’s been such a fun experience so far and I’d encourage anyone else who wants to get involved with Action to do the same. The primary focus of setting up hometown groups is to build up financial support and awareness for a very good cause; simply put, if there isn't exposure in your town then there is lost opportunity for research into crucial illness and diseases. It is also a perfect opportunity to get together with friends - both old and new - learn from differing skills and experience and to bring it all together into a fun but meaningful way. I’d definitely recommend it!