Here's the latest of our committee members providing us with a bio. More to come from the rest of the gang shortly...
I’m Simon, the chair of Annabel’s Angels. I was Annabel’s partner for 19 years, 15 of them as her husband. I am now the sole parent of our young boys Will and Sam. I work full time in Derby for a local support charity; a charity that helps other charities to form and grow. I deliver training, workshops and talks in schools and out in the community about volunteering, and I also manage a community reporting project.
There have been many dark days since Annabel’s passing. I’ve documented this and more in my own personal blog so I won’t go over all that stuff again. Support from my family, and old and new friends has helped me to overcome the apathy, the despair and the dark days. Without my friends and family, I dread to think where I’d be. They’ve listened to me, helped me wipe away the tears, helped me set and complete practical tasks, get my house in order, and helped the boys lead as normal a life as possible. I owe them everything.
In my experience, grief has a habit of rearing its head when you least expect it. A song, a smell, an image can take you right back to the pit of despair. So, to try and stave off these feelings, I’ve tried very hard to remain busy. I’ve always been a busy person; work, kids, hobbies have all kept me busy over the years. Today is no different. Except now, it’s in the form of running a charity.
In March 2013, a group of Annabel’s wonderful Macland friends contacted me to say they wanted to run the race for life in the summer.
They came up with the name of Annabel’s Angels and asked me if it would be ok to use that name. ‘Of course’ I said. And so the first group was formed. But the groups began to grow. Soon we had 12 groups up and down the country, Scotland too, all ready to run under the Annabel’s Angels name. We raised over £15,000 for Cancer Research UK. The idea of doing something in the name of Annabel’s Angels after the race for life events became more obvious as the months went by. We made plans.
And so, the Mayor of Derby, Councillor Lisa Higginbottom (at the time), launched the charity in May 2013, the month of Annabel’s birthday.
As with most charities, we have a constitution, a chair, a treasurer, a secretary, a bank account, we hold bi-monthly team meetings and regular conference calls, we have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, a Local Giving fund raising page, items for sale include t-shirts, wristbands and much more.
Since May 2013, our amazing supporters have run, walked, climbed, bucket-shaked and bag-packed to raise over £10,000 for Annabel’s Angels. This includes money received from the recent Guinness World Record Charity Auction event. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who has given us their money, their ideas and their time. The committee members and I are truly humbled by the generosity.
We have donated funds to the combined day unit at the Royal Derby hospital, we have very recently donated funding to purchase post surgery bras for the Derby Breast Cancer Support Group, and we are in discussion with several other local and national organisations to see how we can develop and co-fund projects to meet the needs of local people affected by cancer.
We continue to work closely with our friends Macmillan Cancer Support. They have been an excellent critical friend, as have the charity Mummy’s Star, a charity formed by a friend of mine in similar circumstances. We’ve appeared on TV, on the radio and in the local, regional and national press.
We have big plans for 2014. Our aim is to be a fully registered charitable trust in the spring. The focus remains the same; to help patients and families reduce isolation in their cancer journey. Too many people go through the cancer journey unsure, afraid and alone. We aim to change that by helping people to connect with each other, helping to fund activities to bring people together and, longer term, helping to develop a befriending support service for cancer patients in Derby.
My life has clearly changed since 28 December 2012. To be honest, it changed as soon as we got the news at the end of April 2012. Clearly, it's been a bumpy road for us all but I am comfortable with my new life now. The charity is a big part of my life, and I imagine this will be the case for many years to come.