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Rich May, charity fundraiser for Breast Cancer Now after completing the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon

Charity Fundraisers

We did it for charity!

Taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon for charity is one of the most fun and fulfilling ways there is to earn a coveted London Marathon finisher medal – but don’t just take our word for it! 

Every year thousands of runners just like you pledge to complete the London Marathon for charity, raising millions of pounds for good causes and creating memories to last a lifetime as they embark on this truly inspirational challenge.

We caught up with three charity fundraisers who took part in the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, to find out how they raised thousands of pounds and why their efforts mattered so much at a time when charities need more support than ever before.

Name: Rich May
Charity: Breast Cancer Now
Year you ran the London Marathon: 2020 virtual event
Charity pledge amount: £2,000
Amount raised: £2,296.85

Why did you choose to run for Breast Cancer Now? 
My mother Wendy passed away in March 2016 due to secondary bone cancer – the primary was breast cancer. Each year I look to raise both donations and awareness as much as I can to help others.

Breast Cancer Now was an easy decision, not only do they offer support, but they are also a research charity and their USP caught my eye: “We believe that we can change the future of breast cancer and make sure that, by 2050, everyone diagnosed with the disease lives – and is supported to live well”. This made me want to join them more, so I can help others and be part of changing the stigma attached to a diagnosis.

Since joining Team Now in 2019, I have been made to feel like part of the team. Not only are the organisers at the charity amazing, I have also been privileged to meet other fundraisers and hear their stories, as well as sharing mine. It’s more than a charity, there’s a real sense of community spirit.

Was this your first marathon?
Yes! I wanted to challenge myself and take on the Virgin Money London Marathon. I was new to running and knew this was well and truly outside of my comfort zone. I am normally known for raising money through cycling events, but I wanted to do something different and hopefully raise more money by showing my fundraising supporters that I wasn’t going to keep doing something I was comfortable with.

Did you feel daunted by your fundraising target at first? If so, how did you overcome that?  
I never really feel daunted. In 2020, I built up a large network of other fundraisers and we swapped ideas. I always speak to other fundraisers about how they are generating donations and look to add this to my own fundraising.

"Running a marathon is a huge commitment, however, the sense of achievement at the end is well worth it and the support you receive will keep you on track."

Rich May

What were your top five ways of raising funds? 
Bucket collections, social media (this includes my training journey), raffles, guess my time and organising events such as golf days.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for a charity place in the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon?
Running a marathon is a huge commitment of your time and requires positivity and dedication throughout. However, the sense of achievement at the end is well worth it and the support you receive from family, friends even the local running club will keep you on track to achieve this fantastic goal for the charity of your choice. If you are looking to get healthy and raise vital funds at the same time, then this will give you that much-needed accountability to persist and smash your goal.

Did you wear fancy-dress or do anything unusual to mark your marathon and raise extra funds?
I stood for a day in Liverpool Street tube station, dressed in a pink onesie to stand out, bucket-collecting for my charity. Breast Cancer Now were fantastic organising this for me as it does require a permit, but they took care of everything.

How did you feel when you finished your London Marathon?  
Exhausted, however so proud of achieving such a huge challenge. Despite the weather being horrendous, friends and family turned out to support and cheer me on. I ran with my friend who was raising money for another cancer charity and I was so proud when we both crossed the line together knowing we were making a difference. We were joined on the route by a couple of friends who decided to run and cycle part of the route to support us.

What support did you receive from Breast Cancer Now along the way? 
I have raised money over the years for various charities but none like Breast Cancer Now. Although it’s a national charity, I genuinely feel like it is my local charity, with lots of advice on fundraising, upcoming events and training days. They add such a personal touch you never feel like just a number.

How did it feel to know you’d supported Breast Cancer Now by taking part? 
Everyone – and I mean everyone – at Breast Cancer Now couldn’t do more to make sure you’re ready for the big day. From day one, I was made to feel like part of the team. Whenever anything came up, they gave me a call to get me and others involved.

I am so proud that I can help give a little back and be part of this fantastic charity. It makes me extremely proud to say that I am associated with Breast Cancer Now and I will continue to raise vital funds and, just as importantly, awareness.

Would you change anything about the way you raised funds if you were to take on another event? 
I have a few ideas for fundraising in 2021, but due to the current climate you have to adapt quickly to what you can organise. It will be a mixture of new and old fundraising techniques.

Name: Tiffany Georghiades
Charity: Pancreatic Cancer UK
Year you ran the London Marathon: 2020 virtual event
Amount raised: £5,800

Why did you choose to run for Pancreatic Cancer UK? 
My dad was taken ill and diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2018. It was the beginning of the worst period of my life – my whole world felt like it had collapsed around me.

It was frighteningly clear from the start that diagnosis is complex and delays and uncertainty often have life-threatening consequences. Everyone around us was using terms we didn’t understand and I was determined to learn as much as possible about the disease in order to understand the process and advice; that’s when I came across Pancreatic Cancer UK (PCUK).

I read the charity’s website back-to-front multiple times and found the information it offered invaluable and relatable. I felt so lost and the charity was like an arm around my shoulder guiding me – without a shadow of a doubt I wanted to support them any which way I could.

Was this your first marathon? 
No. Although I had previously run the London Marathon, I felt like this was a completely new experience for me – having been personally impacted by the disease gave me the fire in my belly to get out for every training run.

This was my third marathon (fourth including a virtual!). I was plagued with injuries in the previous two, but I have dedicated all my runs to charity – I feel like it gives me the motivation I need to get out in pouring rain and it provides me with a focus, as well as constant grounding and reminder of how grateful I am for my health.

Did you feel daunted by your fundraising target at first? If so, how did you overcome that?  
Both myself and my fiancé were fortunate enough to have ballot places, which meant we had a joint target of £5,000 and one pool of people to ask. It was initially quite daunting, but we broke it down, worked backwards from the marathon date and set a project plan of different activities and how much we thought we could raise from each one. It made it much more manageable having smaller personal regular targets to achieve as opposed to tackling it in one go.

What were your top five ways of raising funds? 

  1. Pub quizzes – I was so nervous approaching the pubs, advertising and asking people to come, but my nervousness wasn’t needed as everyone was so supportive and all the quizzes were great evenings!
  2. Box Challenge – create a board with numbers one to 50 on it. People can buy a box on the board for £5 each. A winner gets picked at random and receives a prize of £50.
  3. Family, friends and social media – providing education and awareness across different platforms helps people understand the seriousness of the disease and encourages sponsorship.
  4. Krispy Kreme sale – taking hundreds of doughnuts into work proved a hit for everyone who needed their 15:00 sugar fix!
  5. Car wash – we advertised on a local Facebook group and put posters through letterboxes expecting no one to turn up – by the afternoon we had cars queuing around the block. It was a big success!

More charity information

    • Virgin Money Giving

      Find out why we recommend starting your fundraising campaign with Virgin Money Giving today

    • Fundraising tips

      Raise more money for charity with our top fundraising tips

    • Why run for charity?

      Running for charity has lots of benefits for both you and the charity you support

    • Virgin Money Giving

      Find out why we recommend starting your fundraising campaign with Virgin Money Giving today

    • Fundraising tips

      Raise more money for charity with our top fundraising tips

    • Why run for charity?

      Running for charity has lots of benefits for both you and the charity you support

    • Virgin Money Giving

      Find out why we recommend starting your fundraising campaign with Virgin Money Giving today

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What advice would you give to someone considering applying for a charity place in the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon? 
Don’t second guess it – whatever the target, you can achieve it with a bit of planning and a positive mental attitude. So many charities really need our help, especially after 2020, and we are in such a fortunate position to be able to help – it’s a no-brainer!

Did you wear fancy-dress or do anything unusual to mark your marathon and raise extra funds? 
During the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon the weather was one of the worst days of the year, but I posted live updates throughout the day. I think everyone could see how much of a struggle it was in the conditions and felt like they were on the journey with us. We had so many messages of support and lots of donations that kept us going without a doubt!

How did you feel when you finished your London Marathon?  
Elated and so emotional! It’s a feeling you can’t describe until you experience it. After every marathon I always say never again but it’s that finisher’s feeling that keeps me coming back!

What support did you receive from Pancreatic Cancer UK along the way? 
Pancreatic Cancer UK have been fabulous beyond words – it’s a family I never knew I needed but now couldn’t live without. We have a fabulous Facebook group that keeps everyone motivated, plus a group on Strava. We also had the opportunity to meet up for training runs and meet each other.

Everyone has their own story but you’re all united in some way. They’re also great at offering opportunities to take part in rehearsal races, which proved invaluable. On one of the rehearsal races I was overcome with emotion as I crossed the finish line and just as I was about to fall to pieces I felt a tap on my shoulder from one of the other PCUK runners who I met at the event. It was exactly what I needed and I was so grateful to share that moment.

How did it feel to know you’d supported Pancreatic Cancer UK by taking part? 
The charity have not only provided invaluable support at a time in my life when I needed it the most but they gave me a lifeline and the motivation to get out of bed at some of my darkest moments. I will forever be grateful and any support I can give them in terms of fundraising or creating awareness will never match my gratitude.

The thing about PCUK is they’re so transparent in terms of their current campaigns and what they’re working on, who they’re supporting. You feel like you’re on the journey with them and to be able to support that even in the smallest possible way is fantastic.

Would you change anything about the way you raised funds if you were to take on another event? 
I would worry less and not compare myself to others. Everyone is from different backgrounds and has different circumstances so if someone has already reached their goal five months before the event – don’t panic – have a plan and stick to it! You do you and support others on their way.

Name: Trevor Hunt
Charity: Mind
Year you ran the London Marathon: 2020
Charity pledge amount: £2,000
Amount raised: £2,951

Why did you choose to run for Mind?
I’ve suffered from mental health problems for many years now. I’ve gone through various channels of treatment – from counselling, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, appointments with psychologists and psychiatrists, and been on all manner of drugs, which I’m still prescribed today.

I’ve taken overdoses, though thankfully none have been too serious.

Mental health is something that has affected other members of my family too. My grandfather took his own life before I was born. Then there was my brother, Ady, who did the same thing eight years ago. He was a little over a year older than I am now.

I want, and continue to want, to raise awareness for better mental health, a message that Mind promotes, hence supporting this charity is a natural fit for me.

Was this your first marathon? 
No. I ran my first, and only previous marathon, in 2019 for Mind also. I didn’t have a charity place that time, I won my place in a competition – but I still raised more than £1,000.

Did you feel daunted by your fundraising target at first? If so, how did you overcome that? 
Yes, totally daunted. I knew I wanted to run the London Marathon, but was apprehensive about raising the required amount for charity.

I had never raised so much money for a charity before so didn’t have a clue how I could do it. But it soon became apparent that if I was willing to share my story, people would listen. They were interested in my reasons for wanting to run a marathon, and with that they started donating. People wanted to support me, and I was giving them a route to do that by donating to my chosen charity.

Once I felt the support of people, it became a lot less daunting.

What were your top five ways of raising funds? 

  1. Tell your story on your online charity page and share it everywhere: social media, local publications, and so on. Make it personal to you, open up as to why you want to run a marathon, and why you have chosen this charity. Update your charity page regularly with your training – include the ‘downs’ as well as your achievements – and share the page after every update. Let people know this isn’t just one run, let them see all your runs.
  2. Ask for donations of items to sell at a car boot sale – people love a clear-out. Set up your stall with banners and flags, making it evident that what you sell is going to charity. Take a sponsorship form as people may be willing to donate as well as buy.
  3. Hold a raffle, ask companies for donations and advertise it well: posters on telegraph poles, social media, shop windows. Think of add-ons to the raffle, such as selling cakes and hot drinks as well.
  4. Quiz night in a pub – the publican will love the crowds a quiz night draws in. Make an agreement on the drink sales, for example 50p/£1 for every pint sold goes to your charity. Think about food as an add-on, even hold a small raffle afterwards too!
  5. Crafting: ask friends and family who like crafting to make things for you to sell – I’ve had success with cushions, knitted bees, and more.

"I felt ecstatic, emotional, joyous – too many different emotions to note, but the sense of achievement is unparalleled."

Trevor Hunt

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for a charity place in the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon? 
Choose a charity that you have a connection with, rather than looking for a charity that has the lowest pledge amount. Applying to a charity that you feel passionate about supporting will drive you to raise the required amount – and will feel ever so more rewarding.

Did you wear fancy-dress or do anything unusual to mark your marathon and raise extra funds? 
A blue tutu… I would have worn a blue wig too, as I have done at a previous event, but heavy rain and wigs are not a good combination.

How did you feel when you finished your London Marathon?  
Ecstatic, emotional, joyous. Too many different emotions to note, but the sense of achievement is unparalleled.

What support did you receive from Mind along the way? 
They supplied a private group on social media where we could meet other runners. I also received regular updates via the group and by email.

We had a personal trainer who was available to answer questions and help with training from day one to the race itself.
Most importantly, the events team was always on hand to answer our individual questions or concerns. I never felt alone and felt very much supported all the way, even after the event, and I never felt pressured. I felt valued.

How did it feel to know you’d supported Mind by taking part? 
A sense of pride. To know that funds raised from my efforts were going to better the lives of people in need of assistance.

Would you change anything about the way you raised funds if you were to take on another event? 
I would do similar things again, but I would add other events to maintain my donors’ interest over a longer period of time. For example, I recently ran one mile, every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours. It helped my training, but also raised a lot of awareness for the charity as I ran up and down the village high street each and every time I did it. The community quickly got on board and I would have people cheering in the street, even at gone midnight!

My success in raising donations is down to engaging local people and getting them interested by putting my story, face and name out there.

It may seem daunting at first, but people’s reactions and support are amazing – you will soon feel at ease.

Virgin Money Giving runner in fancy dress

Ready to start fundraising?

If you already know which charity you’d like to run for or already have a charity place, now’s the time to start your fundraising campaign. You can set up your Virgin Money Giving fundraising page quickly and easily today. We recommend Virgin Money Giving because it’s 100 per cent not-for-profit, so more of the money you raise goes to your chosen charity.