Thank you for helping us reach our target – but we’re not stopping yet!

It is difficult to believe that only a year ago my family decided to raise money for the Duchess of Kent House Charity to support the hospice in which Carol died.  We set what we thought would be an overly ambitious target of £35,000.  We met this target some months ago when UK Gift Aid was included.  However, we are now delighted to see that we have reached our target without Gift Aid included and this means we have raised £41,200 for the charity.  To this must be added the success of Hair for Hospices in 2012 which raised about £25,000 for UK hospices and up to £5,000 for non-UK hospices.

Even now, months after the Hair for Hospices day on 7 August 2012 I continue to hear of more participants who didn’t tell me earlier of their involvement.  Last week I spoke to a laboratory colleague who held an event with his colleagues on the day but forgot to mention his efforts to me.  To each and every person who did something to help thank you so very much.

A letter I received days ago from the Duchess of Kent House Charity has a message I’d like to share with each of you.  It reads, “Thank you again for your generous donation – you, your family and your phalanx of supporters really have made a real difference to this hospice and what additional and special services we can offer to our patients and their relatives.”.  This thanks is as much for you as it is for me so thanks again.  We couldn’t have done this without your constant encouragement and support.

We have now launched our event for 2013 and, with support from the National Association of Hospice Fundraisers and also Help the Hospices, it will run from 1-28 October.  I have been humbled by the support already expressed in the short time since we agreed the dates for the event.  For example, a number of groups of hospices around the country are now talking to each other about running joint events under the Hair for Hospices banner – something which is really exciting and which hasn’t happened before.  As some have said to me, the beauty of this event is the totally inclusive nature involving everyone regardless of gender, age or hairiness!  People are being encouraged to join in a growing national (international?) movement with a simple common theme for the benefit of their local hospice – something they can see benefit directly from their support.

Please feel free to contact me if I can help you organise something and let me know what you are planning for Hair for Hospices 2013.  I’ll happily pass on news of your event.

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Happy new year

Writing on 1 January is a time to reflect on the year just ended and the year to come.  Our family has now come to the end of our first year without Carol and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our friends – old and new – for the help and support we received over the last year.

Reflecting on how our charitable work developed, it far exceeded anything we ever thought possible.  To date we have raised almost £40,000 to support our local hospice charity whilst our target was £35,000  – and we thought that overly ambitious!  In addition, some of our initiatives have taken hold more widely than we could have ever expected.  Hair for Hospices last August caught the popular imagination locally, around the UK and abroad.  This event alone raised about £25,000 for hospices around the UK and I cannot put a figure on the sum raised for hospices around the world in Canada, USA, Brazil, Israel and more.  People in more than 50 countries continue to read this blog, from Austria to Zimbabwe, Brazil to Thailand and more.

Hair for Hospices 2013 was recently launched in the UK and will run from 1 – 28 October.  Hospice Care Week has recently been announced by Help the Hospices and will run from 7 – 13 October and it is hoped that this overlap will encourage even more support this year.  I have already heard from a number of hospices planning to be involved and groups of hospices are now forming to hold co-ordinated events in particular areas.  This is really encouraging so early on in the run up to the next event.

The recently held Recitals for Hospices in Reading has also attracted some attention from others around the UK and beyond so perhaps this may also become another growing event to raise the awareness of the need for and support for hospices.

There is an expression in our faith that the memory of a deceased person should be for a blessing.  The love and support we have experienced and the help hospices have received as a result clearly shows that this is so for Carol.  No one should be denied the comfort and support of a hospice in their time of need and with your continued help we will take this forward to help more hospices in Carol’s memory.

Thank you once again and may you be blessed with a year of health and happiness.

Video links for encore

I’ve just returned from distributing leaflets for the forthcoming Recitals for Hospices event on 16 December to concert goers leaving a choral event at Reading Town Hall.  Unfortunately we ran out of leaflets before we ran out of people willing to take them from us.  Some recipients seemed willing to stop and talk about the recital but crowd pressure prevented this.

As can be imagined, not only have I been very busy with work but also in the build up to the recital being held next Sunday.  Hopefully this brief note will provide an update to let you know the news.

Have you wondered how musicians decide on which encore to offer at the end of a performance?  We’re collaborating with a local newspaper to advertise a selection of possible encores in print and on line and auctioning them to raise funds for charity.  If you’d like to see and hear what is on offer, please visit http://www.getreading.co.uk/entertainment/music/s/2124990_classical_encores_up_for_charity_auction.  The winner will hear their choice of encore played for them, receive a pair of tickets and meet the musicians.

I am grateful to our friend Jamie Inverne for finding such gifted musicians to give of their time for this recital.  Jamie was invited to appear on BBC Radio Berkshire last Monday to talk about the recital and his life in the music industry.  It makes a fascinating listen – after all, there can’t be many who’ve appeared on the BBC Radio 4 prestige news programme “Today” wearing a pyjama top!  If you have time to listen to this enjoyable interview please follow the link below – Jamie appears for about the last 50 minutes of the programme.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p010r7b0

It is nice to see that the radio presenter also wrote about the interview in her blog http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/annediamond/.

I too made an appearance on BBC Radio Berkshire this morning to talk about Chanukah, which began last night.  Chanukah is a time of festivity and rejoicing and our family always looked forward to it.  However, that changed last year when we lost Carol during the eight days of the festival.  Lighting the first candle of Chanukah last night served to reinforce our loss and this will be made worse on Thursday evening when we mark the first anniversary of her death according to the Jewish calendar.  No doubt we will go through these feelings yet again on 27 December, the secular date of her death.

Thank you Theale Green Community school in Reading

I was delighted to receive an email today telling me of the Hair for Hospices activity at Theale Green Community School in Reading.  Both our children attended this secondary school and students took our cause to heart and held a series of events at the end of the last term.  Today the hospice received a cheque from them for £849.55, a wonderful and really generous achievement – thank you all so much for all you’ve done to help the hospice.

It’s a while since I checked how much Hair for Hospices has raised for hospices around the country.  I know that my figure is an underestimate because some people didn’t record their collections so I can be certain that over £22,000 has been raised for hospices around the UK.  The true figure is likely to be several thousand pounds higher.  I can’t say how much was amount raised for hospices outside the UK but I’ve had letters of thanks from a number of countries where donations to hospices were made in Carol’s memory in Canada, USA, Israel and more.

In a few hours it will be 11 months since Carol died – where has the time gone?  It is a real paradox – it seems both only yesterday and also so long ago.  In these months we have tried to start a new life as a family and as individuals, supporting each other and also working to help hospices.  Who would have thought that our efforts would touch so many and be such a beacon for hope for us and many others?

As we approach the anniversary of our loss we look forward to the Recitals for Hospices event (www.recitalsforhospices.com) on 16 December in Carol’s memory.  We are so fortunate to have internationally acclaimed performers coming to Reading at their personal expense to give this concert.  Please come along and support it if you can as all proceeds will go to help the hospice.  I am also looking forward to working with a number of hospices which are also considering a similar recital under this banner.  Hair for Hospices has been launched as a major event again next year from 1 – 28 October 2013.  Perhaps a programme of recitals will also follow?  You can help make it happen and I’d be pleased to help if I can.
This blog has been followed and read in 47 countries.  I hope we’ve helped at least one person in each of these countries.

Hair for Hospices 2013 is announced

In recent blogs I hinted that I’d soon be able to announce details of Hair for Hospices in 2013.  As it was so well received last year around and outside the UK it should come as no surprise that we hope for a bigger and better event to support hospices in 2013.

One of the main problems last time was that holding the day on 7 August meant that many schools and offices could not participate or participate fully because of summer holiday commitments.  That particular date was chosen as it was our wedding anniversary and when I suggested the idea it was purely for me shaving off my beard for a single hospice – and just look at what that grew into around the world!

Today members of the National Association of Hospice Fundraisers (a body on which the majority of UK hospices are represented) were told of Hair for Hospices 2013.  Instead of having a single day event, Hair for Hospices will run throughout October with it culminating on 28th October.  It is hoped that by choosing this month for activities it could coincide with Hospice Care Week (still to be confirmed) which many would also wish to support.  Individual hospices will be free to decide if and how they might wish to be involved in an event or series of events under the Hair for Hospices banner.

I am already aware of some events being discussed but will be more than happy to speak to individuals and hospices over the coming months to help them if I can.

The overall purpose of the day will be to raise awareness of the need for hospices everywhere and to raise funds for hospices local to where people take part in our month of action by doing something visible to their hair.  Just like this year you can shave off a beard, colour or restyle hair or donate long hair to make wigs for children who have lost their hair because of cancer treatments.

There are lots of other ways to become involved to help your local hospice – can anyone think of something wackier than the Scuba Salon this year – or make better hair related cakes than offered by Hair Nineteen in Halifax for Overgate Hospice (see my blog of 9 August)?

Please think of how YOU can help a local hospice next October and join in the fun! I look forward to hearing from you.

A long day in Brussels

I’ve just returned home from an eventful overnight stay in Brussels.  I arrived at Heathrow airport yesterday to find that the company credit card used to book my flight had been scammed.  This meant I had to buy a new ticket for my Brussels trip.  Then I found that the European strike had shut down the train service from Brussels airport to the Brussels.  As a result I was a little late for my evening meeting but at least I got there.

My return tonight was delayed by a technical issue on the plane so I was rather later home than planned.  The joys of travelling for business!

I was attending a large international meeting and it was a real pleasure to meet friends and colleagues from a number of European countries for the first time since they participated in Hair for Hospices on 7 August.  There was much jesting because each of the males had regrown their beards – none of us wanted to face a cold winter with a naked face!  The ladies had been more discrete and restyled their hair on 7 August and I had a number of hugs today from some who became a little emotional at the reunion.

I also met some people I had not previously met who had either participated in Hair for Hospices or had heard of it from others, as well as others who heard of this for the first time today and were keen to be involved in some way.  If I needed any proof that Carol’s memory will be a force for good, I had it in quantity today and I am truly humbled that so many who never knew her are prepared to make such an effort to help others so much less fortunate than themselves.

I hope to be able to give more details of Hair for Hospices 2013 soon but tomorrow I must check on what must be done for Recitals for Hospices on 16 December.  In the meantime here are some more photos of our artists, Alexandre Da Costa (violin) and Danny Driver (piano).  Please try to join us for what promises to be a wonderful evening for the benefit of Duchess of Kent Charity.  Tickets are only £12 each plus a handling charge at http://recitalsforhospices.eventbrite.co.uk/ and please don’t be shy about coming up to say hello to me.  Today proved I can be hugged without breaking!

New Recitals for Hospices logo and other news

Today I was delighted to receive a new and professionally designed logo for Recitals for Hospices.  Thanks again to Ralph (www.hi-im-ralph.co.uk) for the new design which fits so well with the existing design for Hair for Hospices.

Plans for the recital are developing very well and it looks as if further sponsors may be prepared to support the recital and so help our charity.  We also agreed our poster for the event today and a copy of this is shown below.

If you are interested in attending you’ll find all the details you need on the poster.  Please feel free to print it for display locally to encourage those who can be in the Reading area on 16 December to come along but feel free to ask for a higher quality image if you wish.  You can contact me by leaving a comment on this site or by email at jacknobeard@aol.co.uk

The evening promises to be magical and I for one am certainly looking forward to it.  I’ve been particularly touched by a number of people who’ve told me that rather than buy a Chanukah/Christmas present for a named person this year, they will be buying a concert ticket for them.  In this way, the recipient has the pleasure of a concert and the charity benefits.  That is a really lovely thought, particularly as it was over that period that we lost Carol.

Once this concert is over I’d be pleased to speak to the hospices which have already expressed some interest in holding a similar local event.  That doesn’t mean I’m not prepared to speak to other hospices which have not yet expressed such an interest!  Please keep an eye on www.recitalsforhospices.com from time to time to see what we’re doing and how this could help a hospice in YOUR area.

Plans are also developing nicely for a major Hair for Hospices event across the entire UK next year.  I’ve accepted an invitation to talk at the annual meeting of the National Association of Hospice Fundraisers next March to tell delegates what I’ve been doing but I’m hoping we’ll be able to announce the outline of our plans well in advance of that meeting.  I booked my travel for that meeting today and am looking forward to meeting many people who help support the invaluable work of hospices.  Please keep your eye on www.hairforhospices.com for news.