When Ann Day and her friends at Samba Pelo Mar set a fundraising target to raise 10k for Pilgrims Hospices, they thought they might manage 5 or 8k. So when they presented a cheque for a whopping 17k this spring, they were hugely proud, and a little in shock!
Here, Ann shares what inspired such an amazing result.
How did you get involved?
I play drums and compose music for Whitstable-based community band, Samba Pelo Mar. We’re a big band – almost 50 men and women from all walks of life, the oldest 82 and the youngest 12. We aim to make uplifting sounds, create a sense of community and be an inspiration.
We’ve been going for 10 years now. Although some members have no previous experience, we pride ourselves on being very well-rehearsed. We like to get people laughing and moving and dancing.
I realised, “I am so lucky to be recovering, but others aren’t – I’ve got to give something back.”
We played at the Pyjama Walk in Ashford for the past nine years and at Light Up the City last year. We helped create a big climax as the walks set off.
What spurred you to do even more?
The last year has been a huge journey for me, and the band as a whole.
It started when a really good friend of the band, Jon, was diagnosed with cancer. Jon was a BBC sound technician. He used his skills to film, photograph and record the band. His wife Daphne plays with us.
I had also been diagnosed with cancer myself and, after two major operations, I got the all clear. This happened just as Jon was diagnosed as being in the later stages of his illness. He received end-of-life care at Pilgrims. I realised, “I am so lucky to be recovering, but others aren’t – I’ve got to give something back.”
How did you go about such a huge fundraising task?
Being part of a group made it less daunting. There’s a core group who manage the band so we worked together, backed up by our friends and supporters.
We held lots of different events including collections in Sainsbury’s, a garden party, and a sponsored walk. Then our biggest event was an art auction.
For me, the past year was completely bound up with raising money. It’s what I thought about every day when I woke up. Luckily, Deborah from Pilgrims fundraising team was there to support too so I felt backed all the way.
What kind of support did you get from the community?
It was clear people have a huge affection for Pilgrims. Such a big proportion of people know someone who have received their care. When we were collecting in a supermarket doorway, instead of people dodging round we would see the shoppers walk towards us getting out their purses. The stories they had about how the charity has helped them were amazing.
What are you most proud of?
The art auction was a huge amount of work. It was a huge thing to organise but I can’t believe how successful it was. I hope we inspire other people to do what we have done, even on a smaller scale. There were 50 of us working towards our goal and I had a personal reason to drive me forward, but every contribution – large or small – really does make a difference.
Have you learned anything new about the hospice?
The hospice can be a place you can go to get support to live better with a life limiting illness. It’s so positive to know people don’t have to cope alone.
I’ve learned a lot. At the moment the hospice perhaps represents something uncomfortable in people’s minds if they don’t have experience of it. We all know it’s there for people at the very end of life, and we may know people who have died there. What I hadn’t realised is that they do so much more.
We do need to talk about it more. The hospice can be a place you can go to get support to live better with a life limiting illness, to improve your symptoms. There’s a huge network of support for families, too. They can access a range of help, including bereavement counselling. It’s so positive to know people don’t have to cope alone.
Our experience has inspired us to continue to support Pilgrims. We want to carry on doing smaller fundraising every year and contributing money raised from some of our gigs. We are also playing at A Night to Shine in September, at the Canterbury venue.
I’m looking forward to performing, it’s going to have a unique atmosphere with so many people coming together from the three hospices for one giant walk – that’s very special. I can’t wait for the big night and my next chance to support this amazing charity.
If you’ve been inspired by Ann’s story, discover the many ways you can support Pilgrims.
A Night to Shine takes place on Saturday 30 September 2017 at venues in Ashford, Broadstairs and Canterbury, and registration is now open.