Richard Dunwoody's trek across Japan for Sarcoma UK
Monday, January 8, 2018

There’s no way of keeping track of the small acts of kindness that add up to make life better for us in the sarcoma community. We asked some of our friends, colleagues and, of course, you for a personal highlight of 2017 for the December E-news.  We thought we'd share these highlights here too.

Richard Dunwoody's trek across Japan for Sarcoma UK

Richard Dunwoody, Champion supporter

"It took about six weeks for my legs to recover from my trip to Japan. I walked the length of that beautiful, fascinating country to raise funds and awareness for Sarcoma UK and it was an incredible experience.

I was struck by the hospitality of the people that I met along the way. I kept to the quieter roads and, on some occasions, it was rare to meet anyone at all.

One beautiful Sunday morning I came across a group of four older ladies having a picnic. They didn’t speak English, but I have enough Japanese to introduce myself and tell them what I was doing. They made a space for me to share their meal with them and packed my bag with lots of food for the onward journey. I’m not entirely sure if they understood what was I doing but the look in their eyes said 'this guy is out of his mind!'"

Retired champion jockey, Richard Dunwoody walked the length of Japan for Sarcoma UK, the equivalent of a marathon a day for three months. Read more about his extraordinary trip here.

Julian Pepper, Heavy metal worker

As you can imagine, organising a charity music festival with eight bands is not without its problems and challenges. However, there was one moment during Sarcomafest 4 when I knew that it was once again all worth it.

I was stood towards the front watching the superb set by Brighton’s King Leviathan when I decided to turn away from the stage and take in the view. What met me was the incredible sight of a packed room full of happy faces having a collective great time. I could also see Colin and Steve, who both had huge grins on their faces as they enjoyed the spectacle on the stage.

It was at this point that I knew we’d surpassed ourselves and put on another excellent Sarcomafest, which would most importantly raise a good sum of money for Sarcoma UK.

Along with Colin Tyler and Steve Potz-Rayner, Julian has ramped up the decibel count in Kent four times now with Sarcomafest.

John Young runs in GNR

John Young, 72-year-old super supporter

I read about Kayla and Ellie in Connect sometime during my hospital stays for one of my five operations and six weeks of radiotherapy for liposarcoma. Sue and I have 10 grandchildren under 15 so we decided to come out of retirement for one final Great North Run to raise awareness of sarcoma.

My leg limited us to a fast walk with a little gentle jogging so the aim this year was just to finish in daylight which we did, completing the run together in 3 hours 36 minutes.

I love this photo: I had to wear a compression stocking so I decided to use it to advertise Sarcoma UK and Sue made sure her costume matched!

This was John's eleventh Great North Run. He says it's the eleventh and final, but we never say never... 

Anjula Thompson, new Trustee and future marathon champ

It has been a challenging year as Dave, my husband of 24 years, only passed in March 2016. I have and continue to adjust to a ‘new’ normal. It’s not what I want to do, but Dave would have wanted me to dig deep and focus on the positives, as he always did. That’s why I continue to raise awareness and fundraise for Sarcoma UK.

In October, I contributed to the presentation at a NICE committee seeking the approval of olaratumab to be used to treat sarcoma patients within the NHS in England and Wales until 2020. Happily, this drug was approved and is a new treatment for advanced soft tissue sarcoma.

But I’m not stopping there. I am running the Virgin Money London Marathon next year. No 5K, 10K or half marathons! Nope, for me it is so out of my comfort zone it had to be the London Marathon.

2017 has had its challenges but at least I am around to meet those challenges and move forward.

Anjula is aiming to break our record for the highest amount of raised by someone running the London Marathon. We don't doubt her for a moment.

Lindsey Bennister, leading from the front

In July 2017, I joined 160 leaders of global non-profit organisations participating in Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise programme in Boston, USA. I was fortunate to get a scholarship from Harvard to attend. Over an intense and stimulating seven days, I met social enterprise leaders from around the world who were facing formidable challenges on the scale of the challenge we face with sarcoma.

I realised that whilst our individual causes may be different, our shared experiences created a powerful network of minds that together can bring about transformative change in society.

Lindsey Bennister is Chief Executive of Sarcoma UK.

The fantastic organisers: Zoe Conway and Baroness Liz Sugg.

Zoe Conway, Prime Minister herder. Quiz master.

How can it be that my favourite memory of the year involves Champagne? A whole bottle load of it. A group of us persuaded all five living British Prime Ministers to sign the label. It was a bit stressful: there was the concern that one PM might be tempted to scrawl all over another’s signature; there was the realisation that some of the PM’s signatures were borderline illegible; and then there was the terror of dropping it.

Thankfully, this did not happen. We organised a Quiz Night in memory of my husband Chris and the bottle auctioned for £5,000.

Zoe's Quiz Night event brought together an impressive cross section of Westminister's great and good and raised over £21,000 for Sarcoma UK.

Mark Hiley, making the most of shared values

The Analyst Research LLP partnered with Sarcoma UK after Jonny, one of the founders, passed away shortly after being diagnosed with sarcoma. Over the last seven years, The Analyst has supported Sarcoma UK not only through regular donations, but through a blossoming strategic partnership.

This has initially involved an idea and skills exchange between the teams. The two teams have grown together and in 2017 we hosted a fantastic, and fun, social afternoon in our office, with presentations from both companies, before a darts and table tennis competition in the evening.

Some might ask - what does a financial research firm in Clapham have in common with a charity based in Old Street? A surprising amount, it turns out - dynamic leadership, a long-term vision, accountability to all stakeholders, integrity and enthusiasm for the journey ahead. We feel these shared values underpin the future success of both organisations. 

Mark co-founded The Analyst along with Jonathan Scriven in order to teach some new lessons to the equity research market. He and his team also taught the Sarcoma UK team a few lessons about beer pong. But we shan't dwell on that.

Chop Pop, artist, supporter and Glasgow-phile

The idea of doing public things for charity is unusual in Japan. I think Japanese people don’t want to seem hypocritical and want to keep feelings private. I am one of those people.

But I'm just a big fan of Glasgow band, Camera Obscura. I didn’t know their keyboard player, Carey Lander, personally, but her belief inspired me to take some action, to help raise funds for Carey’s Campaign.

When I came to Glasgow for my exhibition, I was very nervous, but when so many people came along to see my paper cuts, I relaxed. There were a lot more people here than I thought there would be. Members of Camera Obscura with their families, Carey’s parents, members of BMX Bandits and fans of Camera Obscura all turned up. I also saw people who knew my paper cuts from my first exhibition. I was very glad to see so many people come here. It was a special reward.

Chop Pop is the artist name of Tomoe Ishida. She exhibited and auctioned paper cuts from her stopmotion reimagining of Camera Obscura’s Let’s Get Out Of This Country video.

Glyn Wilmshurst, our cheering Chair

It was in 2012 that I first joined one of Sarcoma UK’s ‘cheering squads’ for the London Marathon. Back then, we applauded, urged on and waved our rattles for a handful of Sarcoma UK runners. A few years on, the London Marathon has become a flagship event for the charity and a fabulous illustration of its growth.

We had 45 people running for Sarcoma UK this year, and an incredible 70 runners are expected to raise funds for us in the 2018 event. I was at Sarcoma UK’s after-party on 23 April as part of the team to thank everyone who had taken on this monumental challenge, and welcome their friends and family.

It was a truly inspiring occasion, and the sight and sound of each triumphant finisher being loudly cheered into the crowded hall was my standout moment of the year.

Glyn Wilmshurst became Chair of the Board of Trustees of Sarcoma UK in 2017.


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