Meet the team: Will

In this weeks 'meet the team' we hear from our very own nerdy website wizard Will (his own words). Take it away Will:



Who are you? I’m Will, I recently graduated from the University of Derby and I now live and work in London as a Marketing Executive.

How did you get involved?

I met Simon Hancox through volunteering for Community Action in Derby. We'd run a few social media workshops together and after the first one I started volunteering at Community Action on a permanent basis. We became good friends immediately through our mutual love of British film, cycling and real ales. Simon is easily one of the most selfless people I've ever met and someone who always had time for me. Even when he had more than enough going on in his own life, we would still make it out for a pint of Dutch courage and a long cycle. After Annabel passed away we became even closer friends, and as Annabel's Angels turned from an idea into a reality I was more than happy to get geeky for an amazing cause and a great group of people.

How involved are you/what do you do?

I manage the website for Annabel's Angels, and am basically the resident nerd of the group, which I'm fine with. I'm involved in the core meetings and decisions and join in at events wherever possible. I work in digital marketing full time, so naturally bring a lot of those skills to the group, along with an excellent bucket collection voice on days out (see video evidence!).

Give an example of what you've done and what you've learned since getting involved.

Since getting involved I’ve set up a website and blog for the charity and had input in tons of discussion about where the group is heading. I always loved volunteering, but working with Annabel’s Angels I have learnt that awesome things can happen if enough people want them to - the fact that the group is based all over the country yet improves constantly and stays close is testament to this. I also love the fact that I can only keep learning whilst helping out - as the group improves, so do I! There’s really not many chances you get to say that, and I’m grateful for it.

How do you see AA progressing?

What we are on the surface is a fundraising group; we raise money to help support causes and individuals affected by cancer. But what we are below that is a group of people who are all driven by ideas, a desire to help, and a great community of supporters. This is what will make Annabel’s Angels something that will only grow stronger and stronger. The increased support and coverage over the past year has been immense, and I think the current Annabel’s Angels set up is tiny in comparison with what we will be doing in 3, 5 or 10 years time. As the group develops so do all the members, and we are all willing to learn. I see awesome things happening with the website (we have big plans!) and I also see the support we offer growing into a solid service that will benefit many.

Meet the team - Denise

In this week's meet the team, it's the lovely Denise's turn to share her story about how and why she's involved with the charity. I too, like Dorothee and Ali, became a member of Annabel's Angels at the beginning of 2013 after meeting Annabel and the girls on the Macmillan forum in 2012 after we were all diagnosed with breast cancer.

After the initial feeling of terror and fear of dying I composed myself and gave myself a good talking to. With the help and support of a wonderful husband, great friends and family, I began the treatment journey that would absorb nearly a year of my life.

The old me was slowly disappearing and the new me has taken quite some time to get used to and is still evolving.

But out of this awful situation I found myself in, I made new friends with other ladies going through a very similar treatment plan experience to me on the Macmillan forum. So many offered support and comfort on the Macmillan chat forum.....we laughed, we cried, gave great advice and support and slowly grew new friendships online which we called “the class of 2012”.

The worst part online for me was seeing Annie40 as a title on a new thread and I had this awful feeling, which sadly was confirmed when I read that she had lost her battle with this awful disease. All I could think about was her husband, Simon, the children and her family and friends. Plus I was concerned as to how this would impact on all my lovely friends brought it home to us all the reality and confirmation that this disease is a killer.

But 2013 was a new year which started with the amazing creation of Annabel’s Angels.............and how proud I am to be an angel!

Ali started the ball rolling with the Race For Life idea and all of our teams running under the name of Annabel’s Angels. Then all the great work and vision that Simon wanted from Annabel’s Angels has paid off through lots and lots of hard work during 2013.

My contribution came from not only getting a team together for Race For Life in Folkestone, but lots of craft fairs and fundraising events to help raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

My organisational skills came into play when Simon asked if I would catalogue all the auction lots for the Guinness World Record Charity Auction event that Annabel’s Angels had been invited to join, which took place at the end of November in Derby. What a challenge this was, especially as my chemo brain was really bad, I hadn’t created a spreadsheet in over 18 months and where were we going to get 150 auction lots from in such a short space of time? But I didn’t want to let Simon down, as this could be the biggest fundraising event of the year, I had to think logically about who to contact to ask for items to sell. My friends and family didn’t disappoint.....items started rolling in....phew. What an amazing event this was raising thousands of pounds for the 10 charities and causes.

Annabel's Angels meet the team

What do I want from 2014..........well in February I will be two years on from diagnosis.......the breast cancer treatment has left it’s toll on my body and I am hoping to have an operation in the new year to help with my lymphoedema in my right arm. I am taking my hubby on a dream holiday to Canada, which will be out of this world plus I will also continue fundraising throughout the year and support Annabel’s Angels in any way I can.

One thing being diagnosed has taught me is never to take anything for granted because at any moment in time things can change. So I promise to share my love of life with as many people I can and have lots of wonderful times ahead.

Thank you

Denise xxx