14th April 2016

The Anthony Nolan Charity Night

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Guest post from my amazing Boyfriend, Sean. 

I never really appreciated just how much of a different a simple donation to a charity could actually make, nor was I prepared just how connected to a charity I would become. Ever since I donated my stem cells back in 2012 via the charity ‘Anthony Nolan’, I have gone on to meet the recipient of my stem cells, Johnny, ran the London marathon twice (once with Johnny), attended local schools to raise awareness and organised a handful of charity balls.

On Saturday 6th February we hosted our annual charity dinner and ball. Sorting a date and venue for the event felt like 2 items ticked off a list of a thousand, I won’t lie, it can be stressful! In the previous weeks/months we had wrote to many companies and organisations asking for any support in terms of donating items for the raffle and auction, or even a financial donation, and it was overwhelming to see just how many people wanted to help. Now we had the foundations set, we were ready for the biggest job, the ticket sales. The previous 2 years we had sold roughly 110 and 120 tickets, so we were expecting a similar figure. After 2 weeks of advertising the tickets, we had sold over 150 which was totally unexpected but a figure we welcomed with open arms – it was unbelievable how many people were willing to come and support us in raising funds for Anthony Nolan. When the day arrived, we were up very early in order to get the room set up. It was a real family effort and what I liked about i the most that it was a good opportunity for my family to meet Rhiannon’s family.

The night began with a drinks reception which was popular with everyone and also a photograph on entry courtesy of Rhiannon’s dad, Andrew, who also got some fantastic picture throughout the night. As the final few people arrived, I began feeling more and more nervous as I had to do the opening speech – although a few pints helped with the nerves. I thanked everyone for coming and informed everyone what their money would go on to do, not long had I been sat down before I was getting back up to accept a gift from Kirsty Low and Craig Wills from Anthony Nolan who informed me and the rest of the room that leading up to the nights event our fundraising efforts over the years stood at a total of £18,000 – an incredible amount that wouldn’t have been possible if it was not for having such a supportive group of friends, community and the generosity of complete strangers! The gift is something I am really proud of and a moment I will always remember, it was awarded ‘The Hagan Family’ but in reality it is for anyone who has ever helped over the years!

Once the speeches were over the 3 course meals were soon being brought out, soup for starter, roast beef for main and sticky toffee pudding for desert. We started the fundraising off by a game of bingo – with the winner taking home a brand new iPad mini – not a bad prize! We had an auction that featured some great prizes such as Kendal Calling festival tickets, signed sports memorabilia, a brand new Mercedes for a weekend and 4 adele tickets. When all the hard work was out of the way it felt like we were able to now enjoy the night, as anyone who has organised an event will know 90% of the time the night just passes by as you are so busy running around!

The night finished with a local band Big Fish playing a great set and it was good to see everyone up and dancing. The night took our total raised for Anthony Nolan to well over £20,000 which is incredible. When you think it costs Anthony Nolan £100 to sign a potential donor to the register that could mean that together we have signed up 200 people and potentially saved the lives of 200 people – it puts everything into perspective.

The London Marathon 2016 is fast approaching and although I am taking a break from running this year, I’m really looking forward to to taking Rhiannon down to London with all my family to support my brother, Ryan and brother-in-law, Kieran who will both be running for the Anthony Nolan team for the second time. I’m sure it will be another memorable day in our association with Anthony Nolan – the UK’s Bone Marrow register.

Sean 

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