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 



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

2014 - 2015 Annual review

It's time to sit back and relax for a moment now that I've just submitted our Charity Commission Annual Return. Reflecting on 2014 - 2015 has been a humbling experience for me. We've done so much and met so many people during this last year. On behalf of our Trustees I'd like to say a huge thank you to all the sponsored event fundraisers, bucket shakers, runners, swimmers, knitters, tea makers, cyclists, bag packers etc and contributors. 

Thanks also to all the businesses out there who have supported us during the last year - from donating time and space for events to assisting us with design time and materials for our promotional items.

Here's a quick rundown of what's been happening:

·         Partnerships have been developed with other National and Local charities to promote our aim – Macmillan Cancer Support, Mummy’s Star, Derby Breast Cancer Support Group and The Laura Centre.

·         Ben Nevis sponsored walk (group activity).

·         Auction events held on regular basis at various sites.

·         Promotion of individual’s fundraising events via own website.

·         Charity race night organised by Alvo Boys FC.

·         Charity of the year status and ongoing support with The Bubble Inn, Stenson, Derbyshire. Several fundraising opportunities have taken place at the Bubble. This will continue into 2015/2016.

·         Bucket collections in supermarkets and businesses around Derby.

·         Wristband sales in businesses around Derby have increased.

·         Charity sweets partnership developed across Derby with ‘Reach Out’ – 20% of money taken for sweets sold are donated to Annabel’s Angels.

·         Election of a Macmillan/Derby Royal Hospital employed individual to enhance grant application promotion via local hospital.

·         We supported 40 women living with breast cancer by means of funding bespoke clothing – in partnership with Derby Breast Cancer Support Group.

·         Enhancement of website and social media promotion via volunteer support from individuals with expertise in this area.

·         Granted designated charity of year status by Status Social, a Midlands based social media specialist. This led to bespoke training provided at no cost, along with an increase in our social media output and engagement along with networking/promotional opportunities.

·         Sale of merchandise via partnerships with local businesses.

·         Increased presence in health and social care establishments in Derby – static displays at Macmillan Information Centre, Combined Day Unit, Breast Clinic and Outpatients Clinic.

·         Promotional literature about the charity is offered to newly diagnosed cancer patients and families. 

·         BBC Radio Derby and The Derby Telegraph have published several Annabel's Angels news stories. 

·         Our volunteer reach continues to grow. Volunteers play a huge part in our work. Put simply, the charity would not be able to function were it not for the significant contribution made by the volunteer team of Trustees and the ever-increasing team of ad-hoc event and fundraising volunteers. Based on national minimum wage, we have calculated a financial contribution of £4382 made by volunteers. However, we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg; it's too simplistic, way too simplistic to measure input and impact from volunteers in this way.

So many people have all helped us raise our game this past year.  You've helped to connect us into important conversations with others, you have helped tirelessly to promote our name and you have boosted our fundraising income significantly. With your support we have seen our income from donations increase by 84% from the previous year. We are grateful, we are humbled.

Our grant applications have shown a steady increase in 2014 - 2015 from the previous year. We expect this to increase as we forge new partnerships across the city. We continue to process grant applications quickly and responsibly, with an aim of making a decision within ten days from the date of receipt. 

We move forward with the intention of keeping the charity 100% volunteer-led. We recognise that this could, and probably will, impact on our personal time (all Trustees have commitments etc) but we felt strongly, very strongly in fact that almost all of the fundraising donations we receive (91%) is given to the individuals and the families who need it most in the form of grant funded services and items to improve quality of life. 

The Trustees and I have all been affected by cancer at some point, either as someone living with cancer, a carer or a close friend of someone affected by cancer. We have a good idea of how life can change when a diagnosis is given. That's why we do what we do, that's why we will continue to do what we do. 

Thank you all for your support so far. Let’s build on this for 2015 and beyond

Simon x

Elizabeth, Simon and Siobhan

Elizabeth, Simon and Siobhan

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





Evaluating, listening and supporting.

A key aim of ours is to reach more patients and families in Derby directly affected by cancer. We want to reach them and help them before their condition gets too tricky. We want to reach them before it's too late.

We can only do this by continually spreading the word about who we are and what we do.  We keep the paperwork down to an absolute minimum, and we give a grant decision as soon as we possibly can. We work closely with Macmillan Cancer Support, Treetops Hospice and the Royal Derby Hospital teams to ensure our name reaches far and wide. We're very grateful to these and more for pushing us out there, for suggesting Annabel's Angels to those who might need us. 

Being a very young charity, the need to capture the thoughts and opinions about our work from those we help is so important. This feedback helps us to see where we go wrong, and where we do right. And, of course, how we can improve. This feedback also helps others understand more about us. It gives the public an idea as to what items/services they can request from us. It paints a picture of family life and helps us all to fully understand the impact of our support. 

We're always so very grateful for the feedback we receive from those we support. With this in mind we wanted to take the opportunity of sharing some words from a family we supported in November 2014.

How easy/difficult was it to make contact with Annabel’s Angels? 1 to 5 (1 being very difficult, 5 being very easy).

5 Very Easy

How easy/difficult was it to complete the Grant application form? 1 to 5 (1 being very difficult, 5 being very easy).

5 Very Easy

Did we respond to your Grant request quickly enough?

Yes very quickly

Has the Grant made a difference to your life? If so, how? If not, why not?

Yes, it took huge pressure off at Christmas

How can we improve our Grants Programme?

I don’t think you can improve. It is a fantastic charity.

Would you recommend Annabel’s Angels to others? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes, nice simple process to help people that need it!

Please help us to reach more people. Please talk about us, share our social media posts, suggest us to those who might benefit. We can't ever take the cancer away unfortunately, but we can take away the burden of living with cancer, if only for a little while. 

To apply for a grant please see the Grants Programme section on the website.

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. 

A day at Treetops Hospice

A day at Treetops Hospice

Many of you will know that our Public Grants programme is available to people of all cancer types at any stage of their cancer journey. Newly diagnosed and long term diagnosed people can apply for a grant to help improve their quality of life and that of their family. This could be help with shopping bills, childcare assistance, complementary therapy and much more. We’re still a very young charity and as such it’s important for us to make ourselves heard, particularly with local cancer support services. So, we’ve been busy getting out and about recently visiting local health and social care services to raise our awareness.

Simon, our chair, spent a morning with members of the staff team over at Treetops Hospice in Risley. Treetops Hospice provides respite and palliative care for adults with illnesses such as cancer, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis. It also provides help and support to their carers and families. The Risley facility has a Day Care Unit for the public and a Bereavement Service for adults and children.

The Treetops Hospice at Risley doesn’t have any beds. It is more of a day service whereby people living with a terminal illness usually come to the centre once a week for respite care, a change of scenery and an opportunity to take part in a range of activities and therapies ranging from arts/crafts, aromatherapy, reflexology and much more.

It sits in beautiful grounds; 12 acres of lush green fields and tall trees surround the centre. Large windows let the lush Derbyshire light in filling the centre with a natural warm glow.

Lizzie Banks and Alison Hembrow took their time showing me round the centre asking and answering questions as we went along. Lizzie told me about the Hospice at Home service:

“This service has been developed for patients who wish to be cared for at home wherever possible. Our team of qualified nurses and health care assistants offer support day or night. Overnight stays give carers the chance to have a good night’s sleep, while a few hours during the day gives carers a break to go shopping or have time for themselves.

The Hospice at Home team are all trained and experienced in caring for people who have palliative care needs. All our care is delivered in accordance with the District Nursing care plan, and we work closely with the patient’s Primary Health Care team.

Hospice at Home is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. A nurse visit will last between 3 and 9 hours depending on your needs. Our standard night shift is 10pm – 7am, giving carers the much needed rest to support their loved ones during the day.

Our nurses offer both nursing and emotional support to patients and their families. We give families the opportunity to be as involved as they wish in caring for their loved one, whilst recognising and promoting both privacy and dignity at this very difficult time.”



Simon and Alison in the new Bereavement facility – The Cheetham Centre for adults and children.



Alison went on to tell me about her role as Support and Information Nurse Specialist:

“When people are faced with a life limiting illness many things are thrown into turmoil and there are always questions. Our Support and Information service offers help in a variety of ways. People may just need a sounding board to make sure that they have understood what they have been told or they may need things clarifying as what they been told hasn’t quite sunk in yet or they’re a bit confused by it. People may just need to come and talk to someone over a cup of tea who has an understanding of what is happening to them so that they don’t feel so alone through what can be a difficult and challenging time.

I offer support and information in many areas including symptoms and treatments, finances and benefits and have many links with local support professionals and groups. ”


The centre truly is an amazing place. The hospice’s £3 million a year running costs is predominantly self-funded, with some services supported by health contracts. As you’d expect, the fundraising team is a very busy team always on the lookout for new ideas to help bring more donations in. Volunteers play a key role in community fundraising, businesses too. Short-term activities and challenges help people to feel like they’re doing their bit to support the centre. There is also the opportunity to support Treetops on a longer term basis by either offering your time (as a regular fundraiser, admin roles, counselling support and more), a regular monthly donation or leaving a gift in your will

I came away feeling at peace, humbled and inspired to build on this meeting. At its core is a highly dedicated staff and volunteer team, all committed to supplying the highest level of care, dignity and support for patients, carers and families.

Services are free for everyone, they’re not means tested at all.

I’m really looking forward to working with Treetops to promote and facilitate our Annabel’s Angels grants programme. The Annabel’s Angels team will continue to support the work of Treetops and look for new ways of working together in partnership to support more local people living with cancer to improve their quality of life.  


Simon Hancox



For more information about Treetops Hospice visit www.treetopshospice.org.uk

For more information about Annabel’s Angels visit www.annabelsangels.co.uk






A bit of summer bag packing

We're off to Asda in Sinfin, Derby on Saturday 28 June to do a spot of bag packing to raise some funds. Why not join us?

We're looking to rope in some bag packing volunteers for the day.  Can you help? Ideally we're looking at placing at least 6 people on three shifts throughout the day as follows:   10.00 - 12.30 12.30 - 2.30 2.30 - 5.00  We can be as flexible as possible though, and any help is greatly appreciated. Children from 8 upwards are welcome too as long as they volunteer with their parents/guardians.

We're looking to rope in some bag packing volunteers for the day.  Can you help? Ideally we're looking at placing at least 6 people on three shifts throughout the day as follows:

10.00 - 12.30
12.30 - 2.30
2.30 - 5.00

We can be as flexible as possible though, and any help is greatly appreciated. Children from 8 upwards are welcome too as long as they volunteer with their parents/guardians.

All money raised will go towards our public grants scheme to directly support patients and families living with cancer in Derby.

Do let us know if you can join in on the day. Pop us an email to annabelsangels@gmail.com or drop us a line on our facebook page.


Simon x


A donation to the Derby Breast Cancer Support Group

Annabel's Angels is very pleased to support the work of Derby Breast Cancer Support Group. Today we donated some of our funds to the group to help them purchase a range of specialist mastectomy bras. It is anticipated that around 35 women will receive a specialist bra, fitting advice and ongoing support from the group as a result of our donation. Thanks again everyone for supporting us and enabling us to do this x 882268_495139140601990_1338884308_o