A Summer of fundraising

It's been such a busy Spring & Summer that we've struggled to find the time for updates. Our grant applications continue to roll in at a steady rate - we're currently averaging around five applications a month. Recent examples of funded items include:

  • clothing / grocery vouchers
  • childcare fees
  • family breaks
  • travel costs

Applications come in from all people of all backgrounds - children, adults, all areas across Derby, all types of cancer. Our support is person-centred based on the needs of the individual.

The past four months have been very busy in terms of fundraising. We've seen fundraising gigs, quiz nights, bucket collections, bag packing events, sponsored cycling, sponsored running, sponsored swims, triathlons, trekking, funeral collections, cake sales and much more which have raised thousands of pounds to support local families living with cancer. We're amazed and humbled at the generosity of those who organise and support these fundraising activities. At a time where time is incredibly precious for us all, our supporters go out of their way and take it upon themselves to set goals and organise events to help us reach more families living with cancer. Without these acts of heroism from these incredible people we simply wouldn't be able to continue offering support to those in need. 

A huge thank you to all

Simon x 



Annual Report 2016 - 17

Annabel's Angels is pleased to share its Annual Report for the period 01/04/2016 - 31/03/2017. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported the charity over the last twelve months. Our supporters help us in many different ways, including:

  • conversations with friends and colleagues to raise our awareness;
  • sharing their skills and experiences to help review the way we operate;
  • take on a wide range of fundraising initiatives to raise money for our public grants scheme.

As always, we are incredibly grateful, humbled and thankful for these wonderful offers of support. 

Key headlines from our Annual Report are as follows:

  • Annabel’s Angels increased its annual fundraising income by 12.5% from £17,940 in 2015 to £20,139 in 2016;
  • Grant programme expenditure increased from £8402 in 2015 to £13821 in 2016;
  • The number of families supported has increased from 22 at April 2016 to 56 at the end of March 2017 (this has since risen to 76 at the time of writing);
  • The charity supported 34 individuals living with 23 separate cancer types over the last twelve months.

You can access the full report by clicking here. We do hope you enjoy reading it. 

You will also find a copy of our externally verified accounts here.  

Please feel free to share any comments with the team by emailing simon@annabelsangels.co.uk 


AA runners Derby 10 2016.jpeg



Apprentice & Graduate Association fundraising success

We were overjoyed to be chosen as one of two local charities to be supported by the Apprentice & Graduate Association in Derby. Earlier this year the Association held a fundraising ball to benefit both ourselves and our friends at the Tiny Tim Trust. Additional fundraising by the apprentices and graduates followed during the remainder of the year. Last week we were invited to Rolls-Royce to receive a cheque for the Association's fundraising efforts. We received £2914.96 from the team and we've just been informed that an additional £500 is also on its way. We're truly humbled. A huge thank you to all involved. This amount will make a tangible difference to approximately 8 local families living with cancer (*grant applications average out at approximately £400 per family. We don't hand over any money - all items/services are paid for directly by the charity)

Goodbye to our friend and co-founder, Shelley Mason.

Annabel’s Angels and Shelley Mason have a bit of history; our Chair Simon Hancox takes us back to early 2013…

The passing of Annabel Hancox on 28 December 2012 opened up many new friendships and connections. I decided to make contact with several of Annabel’s online friends who were all going through their own Cancer journey. Dorothee, Denise, Yvonne, Nicola, Ali and Shelley were names new to me, but, in time, they would become regular contacts, new friends bought together in the most difficult of circumstances.

Chatter online became chatter over the phone. Conversation swung to and from different topics, as conversation often does, and it wasn’t too long before the subject of support for people living with Cancer came up. We all shared our own experiences of hospital support, peer support and we shared ideas about how we could encourage others living with Cancer to ‘challenge’ their condition and to live life as fully as possible. As a result, several sponsored Race 4 Life events came and went all under the moniker of local Annabel’s Angels running groups running throughout the country. The groups performed amazingly well, securing over £30,000 in sponsorship for Cancer Research UK, mainly by people living with Cancer walking and running to prove to themselves and others that they could do it.

Conversations moved on to the idea of what next. Setting something up to support local families was a topic that seemed to stay in the air. Shelley, Ali, Dorothee and I carried out our research to see what existed and what was missing from Annabel’s own city of Derby. The idea of peer support and a support fund to help Cancer families deal to reduce some of the ‘daily life pressures’ started to grow.

Shelley helped to grow an idea into an actual thing; an incredibly useful thing. Shelley offered her skills, ideas and insights to others while also living with Secondary Breast Cancer. Shelley used her skills as a trainer to bring a team of people together, she used her professionalism and patience to help wade through the necessaries associated with the Charity Commission. She used her warmth and wit to challenge people in a way only she could do.

Shelley continued to support others by writing a blog detailing her every day life experiences while also detailing her own Cancer journey. Shelley’s warm and witty writing style bought new fans and new friends. Stories resonated with many, particularly those with an experience of living with a life threatening illness.

Shelley passed away peacefully on 30 September 2016 surrounded by her family.

Annabel’s Angels would not exist today if it wasn’t for Shelley Mason.
I would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for Shelley Mason.

Shelley offered me support at the darkest time of my life. Shelley listened to me and she offered ideas about how I could support myself well and how I could raise my two young boys while dealing with this unexpected life chapter.

My thoughts and the thoughts of all Annabel’s Angels Trustees go out to Shelley’s family. Shelley was a wonderful human being; warm and witty with a wicked sense of humour. 

Shine on, Shelley x


Ashgates choose Annabel's Angels as their Charity of the Year 2016/17

Ashgates Accountants and Business Advisors have chosen Annabel's Angels to be their Charity of the Year for the financial year 2016/17. The Ashgates staff team will take on several fundraising challenges during the course of the year with all funds going to the Charity to support local families living with Cancer. The team will also raise awareness of the Charity across its networks. Steve Martin, partner at Ashgates, said:

“We’re delighted to have found Annabel’s Angels and we have nominated them as our Charity of the Year. At Ashgates we are going to do all we can throughout the year to raise funds for and awareness of the Charity. One example will see Ashgates putting a team together for the Derby 10 mile run on 6 November. Annabel’s Angels is the Official Charity Partner of the Derby 10.”


Simon Hancox, Chair of Annabel's Angels said:

“Annabel’s Angels supports local people living with Cancer in and around Derby by listening to and responding to their individual support needs. We work closely with the Royal Derby Hospital, Macmillan Cancer Support and other support organisations to encourage families to submit a grant application to ourselves based on their individual needs. The aim is simple: to improve the quality of life for the individual and for the family. For example, in the past we have funded childcare while a parent attends treatment, we have sourced and supplied white goods/essential items and services to reduce the pressure on the family. We have also funded travel costs to enable those on low income to attend essential treatment and recovery.

We’re overjoyed at being the official Charity of the Year with Ashgates for 2016/17. This partnership gives us a tremendous opportunity to promote our work by working with a well respected and highly successful local business to reach and support more local families living with Cancer.”

BBC Radio Derby's Craig Ramage signs for Annabel's Angels

Annabel's Angels is delighted to announce that BBC Radio Derby football summariser and former professional footballer Craig Ramage has taken up the position of Patron for the charity with immediate effect.

“We are overjoyed to have Craig sign up and support the charity” said Simon Hancox, the Founder & Chairperson of Annabel’s Angels. “Craig is a Derby guy, people know him, they listen to him and they respect him. We’re really excited to be working with him to help promote our work, to raise more funds and to reach and support more local families living with Cancer.”

 Quote from Craig:

"I personally have been very fortunate and blessed in many ways. I have however, like many people, been touched by both critical and terminal illness. This is something which has left me with not only an understanding, but a desire to support an organisation such as Annabel’s Angels and the fantastic work it does to support Derby people as they deal with and confront difficult and potentially
life changing situations."


This signing ties in perfectly with the Challenge Cancer campaign being run by Annabel’s Angels, Macmillan Cancer Support, Derby Hospital and Yes to Life. Derby’s week-long event programme is aimed at raising awareness about living well with and without Cancer. There’ll be plenty of information sharing, several topical debates and workshops, and lots of opportunity to dispel some of the myths surrounding Cancer and Cancer treatments. Listen out for survivorship stories shared in the media, and take up a challenge or two if you’re able - including a fifty-strong firewalk fundraiser finale on Derby’s Historic Market Place to end the week (Saturday 17 October at 3pm).

Annabel’s Angels is asking people what they can do to Challenge Cancer. Craig has shown us what he can do. He has also agreed to take his shoes and socks off and join the Firewalk Fifty in the Derby Firewalk. Why not join him? For more information about the Challenge Cancer campaign and the Derby Firewalk click here

The C Word

The C Word was shown on TV for the first time this week. For some this was was too tricky to watch, too upsetting and too close to home. For many  though, this was an opportunity to see how a life living with cancer really is.

Our very own Alison Gordon read the book and watched the TV programme. Ali has also experienced cancer first hand.  The C Word story shares several similarities with the coming together of the complete strangers of Annabel's Angels, or The class of 2012, as described so well by Ali below. Please take a few moments to read on: 

"I found Lisa Lynch’s book The C Word back when I was nearing the end of my active treatment for breast cancer. Her honesty, and outspokenness appealed to me. I loved her humour, and saw a lot of my own crazy coping strategies in her descriptions.

She became my idol, a champion, someone that had taken on ‘the b*llshit’ and beaten it. It gave me increased confidence that I could do the same. Someone that wasn't just surviving, someone who was living.

I was devastated to hear that she’d had a recurrence and died, it wobbled me to the core. I learnt of this in the first year after my own treatment ended, the time when everything seems so uncertain, perhaps the only certain thing is the recurrence of thoughts and fears that it will return. At the time when those closest to you feel relieved the worst is over and let out a sigh of relief. After the initial adrenaline surge, you emerge with wobbly legs, mistrusting your body, becoming hyper sensitive to every twinge, or pain and losing the ability to switch off worry and anxiety. However this all lies beneath the surface, as on the outside you (attempt) to appear composed, as your hair begins to grow, and the rounded steroid cheeks deflate and you aim to shake the Tamoxifen pounds.  Life beyond diagnosis can be difficult.

The C Word was brilliantly brought to life this weekend, and I imagine many people wept into their tissues as the story unfolded, and many sadly avoided watching as had been personally affected by a similar experience. I hope that many women felt prompted to check their breasts as a result, and sincerely hope that they continue to do so. The story highlights the importance of support, of friendships and humour. The touching scene of the three friends meeting up in Brighton for the day, although sadly never really happened, plays on the importance of sharing with others and how peer support is essential.

There are many complexities to being a younger woman with breast cancer, apart from the obvious fact we’re below the age for routine screening. There’s being the token youngster in a sea of older faces at oncology departments, and given the ‘head tilted’ look that you are too young to be here.  We all know cancer can affect you at any age, but why do we never see peers at the hospital when you are waiting? At times like this you need to meet people in a similar situation to yourself to really feel the support, to fit in. Groups like the Younger Breast Cancer Network are a blessing and have grown from strength to strength over the past 3 years. No subject is taboo, thankfully! 

Just like Lisa, I found comfort in blogging, posting my first blog just 2 days after my diagnosis. I reached out to Macmillan’s Community Forum for support, not really knowing what else to do, if I'm honest. I needed to find someone else who felt the same, a safe place to say what I really felt. There had to be someone else out there with a boob that was trying to kill them too wasn't there ? The anger, fears, frustration all the things you daren't say out loud could be unloaded. I typed away under my alias, I could be real, let all those emotions spill out over the keyboard.

I never really expected to find friends, but I did, and these friends were there throughout the night when family members lay sleeping beside you unaware of the terrors in your mind. Tales of side effects, sharing coping skills, exchanging (poor) humour, and reassurance. We filled the online forums and threads with our messages of support for one another. More details were swapped and shared in private messages. A support network of anonymous women around the world swapping stories and tips, part of the ‘club’ no one wants to join.  As our friendships evolved, our confidence did too and a group of us, the Class of 2012, swapped our exchanges from Macmillan to Facebook, where we became real, sharing images, videos, and positive posts of encouragement to one another. We weren't hiding behind our nicknames any more, we’d let other people into our real lives.

Annabel’s Angels was born out of this friendship; when Annabel died, we, the Mac mates, The Class of 2012, were devastated and transferred our support to Simon and Annabel’s family and to each other.  Our friendship became tighter, and we became closer. It’s been 3 years since the Class of 2012 formed, we've lost some friends along the way, some have developed secondary cancers and are undergoing treatment and some are busying themselves with life beyond diagnosis. I am incredibly proud of my Mac mates, they are the most incredible, tenacious, remarkable women ever and the gift of friendship we extended to each other has seen us through challenging times. My mother whilst undergoing treatment for Leukaemia always said, ‘It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.’ I wholeheartedly agree, and I’d add, life is nothing without friends."  



The Laura Centre - supporting bereaved adults & children in Derby

A few of our Trustees visited The Laura Centre recently. Corin and Simon met with Elaine, the Chairperson of the Derby centre, and Jemma, the Community Fundraiser at their centre on Vernon Street.  

Opened by the bereavement charity COPE in 1991, The Laura Centre offers specialist bereavement counselling to parents whose child has died and to children or young people who have been bereaved of a parent or significant person.

The head office is based in Leicester. Elaine explained that all enquiries and referrals are handled there. The Laura Centre also has local centres operating in Derby and Coventry. All offer wide-ranging individual and group support as well as a variety of alternative therapies.

Two qualified counsellors split themselves across three days during the week in Derby - two days are spent counselling adults, and one day counselling children. On average, they support four customers per day. 

The centre has only opened up its doors to children since March 2015. There is already a waiting list as, unfortunately, bereavement counselling is very much in demand.

The centre would like to open up its doors more often, but a lack of funds prevents this from happening. It costs £150,000 per year to run the centre as it currently is, and Jemma, the community fundraiser, is often rushed off her feet identifying and securing new leads to bring more funds in. 

One way to promote the centre and bring funds in is to hold participative events in the community. Jemma is currently helping to organise the annual Colour Blast Dash run taking place at Darley Park in Derby on Sunday 10 May.  A 2.5k run and 5k run will be taking place during the morning. All runners will start wearing a white t-shirt.  During the run they will be peppered with brightly coloured paint by the Laura Centre team and members of the public. It's a great opportunity to do something a bit fun, a bit different and, just a little bit naughty.  And to raise some funds for the local centre.

Annabel's Angels will be entering a team for the Derby event. We will be raising funds to support both the Laura Centre and our own charity grant programme. Feel free to say hello on the day, pelt us with paint or, better still, sign up and join us. 

For more information about The Laura Centre click here http://www.thelauracentrederby.org.uk/

To sign up for the Colour Blast Dash click here http://www.colourblastdash.org/Locations.html



Sharing, connecting, running.

A note from Simon, Chair of Annabel's Angels

I've seen many people come and go since December 2012. I've seen friendly faces become even more friendlier. I've seen faces become distant, perhaps unsure about what to say or what to do. I've seen my own face in there too, equally unsure at times about what to do, say, interact, feel etc. 

I've been very vocal about how lucky I feel I've been with the support I've received along the way. Family and friends helped with listening ears, broad shoulders and culinary skills. And dog walks too.

A key part of my well-being has been my involvement in a widower's forum set up by my good friend Benjamin Brooks-Dutton. Ben and I got in touch with each other in January 2013. I wanted to talk to other widowers to see if what I was thinking, feeling and fearing was normal.  And so, the doors were opened for other widowers to join a small online group, a safe space whereby us chaps could talk openly and share our innermost thoughts and feelings about this new and unexpected stage of our lives. 

It's now March 2015 and the group has grown considerably. Some are parents, some aren't. Some live overseas, some are young, some not so young. It's an eclectic group. Several guys have gone on to give their time and energy in helping to improve the lives of others. This has been in the form of fund-raising, joining charity committees, sharing their skills in a practical way, sharing their experiences in print and online, and some, like me, have gone on to set up a charity where gaps might exist. 

Last weekend I ran the Lincoln 10k with three of those chaps - Paul Verrico, Andy King and Pete Wallroth.

Lincoln 10k 2015 AA vest.jpg


Paul set up Teamverrico following the loss of his wife Anna.  Team Verrico concentrates on Cancer Support, Research and Treatment Options and Education about all aspects of Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Andy supports the St Barnabas Hospice Trust which provides specialist palliative and end of life care so that everyone can access and receive the support they need to live well and ease the process of dying. He does this with his children Alex and Harry through their charity Screw Cancer

Pete is the founder and CEO of Mummy's StarIt is the only UK charity with the aim of supporting pregnancy through cancer and beyond. The charity offers support to other women and families finding themselves in this situation by providing a single point for medical advice and guidance, a small grants programme to provide financial relief; and campaigning and advocacy. 


Running the Lincoln 10k with these chaps was such a privilege for me. I felt a real resonance with them, a strong connection and unity. And, of course, a 'never give up' outlook on life. It’s safe to say we’ve become very good friends.

Experiencing a tragic life event has shown me the value of creating those all important life opportunities for me and my boys, to push ourselves physically and mentally, and to seize the day. Things don't, and never will, always go according to plan of course, but that's the beauty of life, we just never know what will happen. Do we?

Seize the day, connect with those around you, forge new friendships. Live and love life.

Simon Hancox

23 March 2015

* I'd also like to say a huge thank you to those who sponsored me for this event, those who shared Facebook posts, those who tweeted and those who cheered us all on during the race itself. Thank you all so very much x





The Bubble

The Bubble Inn is a pub/restaurant and hotel in Stenson, Derbyshire. The owner, Connie Eleftheriou, and his staff team have been supporting Annabel's Angels since early 2014. Our wristbands are available for sale on the bar, and our posters, pull up banners and logo can be found dotted around the place.

Saturday 29 November 2014 saw Connie and the team hold a charity raffle night with all proceeds going to Annabel's Angels. The night raised a total of £550, a fantastic amount. Our Chair, Simon, got up on stage and gave a quick history about the charity and thanked Connie for his continued support. It's clear to say they've become firm friends.

A huge thank you to Connie, his fantastic team and, of course, the customers of The Bubble Inn. We're looking forward at continuing our special relationship into 2015 and beyond


Alvo Boys race night

Alvo Boys football club chose to hold a charity race night on Saturday 22 November at The Coronation pub with all funds raised going towards Annabel's Angels grants programme. Our Chairperson Simon and fellow committee member Matt were on hand to take part in the fun on the night (they even took part in a few sneaky bets!) 

It was a fantastic night, full of fun, real community spirit and, of course, generosity in abundance as the amount taken and donated on the night hit a whopping £1000. A huge thank you to Ant, Julie and the Alvo Boys committee, managers, players and supporters for making this a truly magnificent event. A big thank you to the staff and customers at The Coronation pub too.