Tag Archives: donation

Four Weeks And Counting

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Wow, what a fantastic week! It began last Thursday with my fundraising evening at Design Orchard in Brigg. The lovely ladies there had very kindly agreed to open the shop late on my behalf, allowing my guests access to not only their shop, but free coffee and cake. I would then get 10% of whatever profits they made from the sale of shop goods on the night.

After heavily flyering for the event, and posting numerous ads in the local papers (as well as forcing flyers onto anyone who bought a raffle ticket) I was expecting a decent turn-out. However, the weather turned foul during the afternoon, and when I arrived Brigg was dead. I wasn’t too discouraged, eagerly setting up my beautiful display of hand-made decorations (if I do say so myself) and all the raffle prizes I’d managed to acquire free of charge.

In the end though, only one family from the village, and my mum and her friend, turned up. For this reason I decided to postpone drawing my raffle until I’d gathered a few more people to buy tickets, and where there would be a good crowd to attend.
I therefore went to several of the local pubs asking about quiz nights, and found success with The White Hart in Brigg. Arriving with my trusty collection bucket (pictured in an earlier post) and all my raffle tickets – pre-folded by my nan – I sat in wait for all the people who’d agreed to come.

No one turned up.

After about half an hour of panicked calling to my various friends, I just decided to get on with it. Once I actually got up and started selling raffle tickets, with Andy the landlord’s helpful announcement on my behalf, I did a roaring trade and had some very interesting (if that’s the word) conversations with some men in knitted reindeer jumpers, and a man who practically lived in the pub who bought £20 worth of tickets! After the raffle was drawn, and the winners spent anxious moments deciding between which wine bottle to grab, I spent an entertaining half hour chatting to two older gentlemen about travelling and the state of the world in general, and received some invaluable advice on testing wine quality. A life-long skill I’m sure.

I managed to make a further £75 throughout the evening, bringing my total for the raffle to £173! It was such a fantastic evening, and I want to thank both Design Orchard and The White Hart again for all their support and generosity. Here’s to next week’s fundraising event, at another pub quiz!

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Fear of Falling

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Today was the day of my dreaded ordeal – the bungee jump!

After several problems in trying to reach Bray Lake via public transport, and having to be rescued by my friend with a car, we arrived to see a huge crane where people were already jumping off. There were queues of people who had jumped/were waiting to jump/watching people jump, so there was quite a good atmosphere building.

In the run-up this week I’d been getting so nervous, and my rising trepidation didn’t ease as I walked toward the crane. However, after seeing several others jump, and gradually losing the feeling in more and more of my cold toes (we had to take our shoes off), I just wanted to get it over with. I was almost slightly excited as I was helped into my waist and ankle harnesses, and stepped into the crane basket.

When we rose up to the top though I looked down and started to become afraid. The guy up there with me opened the gate of the basket and told me to step toward the edge. I tried to step back and began to realise I might not be able to go through with it. He was having none of it though, and made me cross my arms over my chest before tipping me out into the open air below before I even knew it was happening.

I think I probably screamed the whole way down, with my eyes screwed tight shut. I don’t think you realise quite how fast the ground comes toward you when there’s nothing but air in front of you. It’s one thing to enjoy free-fall at Thorpe Park when you’re strapped into a chair, but incomparable to the absolute fear of dropping with no rope beneath you, and no cushion of hydraulics. Once the rope caught me, it was actually quite enjoyable, but I don’t think I’ll ever be doing it again. One experience is enough!

Here are some photos from before and after my jump, and a very short video taken just before the camera batteries ran out.

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See the video here.

Please, please, please, don’t let me have become mentally scarred for no reason – if you have yet to sponsor me, go to donatetoabigail.blogspot.co.uk. Everything that is fund-raised goes toward helping cover accommodation and visa costs for the duration of my stay. This volunteer placement is entirely self-funded, and I need your help in order to carry out vital research for the fantastic charity SICHREM.

Thank you for all your help, and I hope you enjoyed witnessing my pain!

A Long Drop

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As I sit and write this I am now in Egham, Surrey (or thereabouts) and counting down the hours until the dreaded bungee jump. I think I am far more nervous about the jump than for leaving England or any of the other challenges I’ll face on India. I don’t mind the thought of falling – I’d love to do a skydive, just as soon as they make it cheaper – but the recoil from the rope, and having no control over your motion, already makes me feel queasy.

Fortunately I’ve had lots of positive responses from friends, work colleagues, and family. My sponsorship form has been pinned up at work for a few weeks gradually gaining signatures, and more people have been asking me about it. I haven’t really been concentrating on getting sponsorship in recent weeks however due to the proximity of other fundraising events, and hence I have yet to reach my target amount. Sponsorship currently adds up to just under £200, and ideally I would love to triple this!

I know that I have only 23 hours and 35 minutes in which to do this (oh god), but I know I can get more people to sponsor me. This is so important for me to be able to cover the accommodation costs whilst I’m volunteering in India. Though comparitively cheaper to live in than the UK, Bangalore is still reasonably expensive for India, and over a year’s stay will likely cost in excess of £2000. As my budget currently stands, I do not have enough to pay for the whole year and really need to up my ante in this regard.

For the first two months I’ll be living with a family about 5km from the SICHREM office. I don’t know if they have any children, or what sort of home/area they live in, but I am so excited for the chance to live as part of the local community. It will far exceed any tourist guide or book, and should let me settle in very easily. Once I’ve got acquainted and can navigate my way round the city like a pro, and maybe even having picked up some culinary prowess, I might then go on to stay in an apartment with another family, or share a place with a professional city worker. I may even get super-confident and stay by myself in a newly-built set of apartments in the city. All of these options, my supervisor at the charity tells me, come in under 15000 INR a month (£200ish), and the homestay option where I also receive 2 full meals a day, is only £130/month!

Despite this, I still desperately require funds to be able to afford everything. I therefore ask, if you would like to help me in working unpaid for this fantastic charity, and support a volunteer placement which will be making a genuine and important difference to people’s awareness of, and experiences of, human rights issues in South India, please support me online, or in person by signing my sponsorship form. I am in Egham until Tuesday or Wednesday next week, so if you don’t see me before my ordeal, you still have time to make my day. 🙂

I cannot emphasise enough how much I am loathe to do this bungee jump, and am genuinely scared at the thought of stepping off that platform. If nothing else, please sponsor me just to see me suffer. Evidence of my pain will be posted tomorrow, in full hd!

A Fantastic Evening

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When I turned up to the fundraising evening which Scunthorpe’s Amnesty International group had organised on my behalf, I didn’t know what to expect. Billed as an Indian food evening, taking donations for entry, I had no idea how the evening would pan out, or how many people might turn up. David, the organiser, advised me to bring some extra stuff to boost my third of the takings for the night.

I therefore arrived with my oversized handbag stuffed full of my remaining silk scarves, dressed in too few layers for the cold November evening, and being a little flustered after getting lost several times (as usual). When droves of people began turning up I couldn’t believe it. The excellent cook, Liz, whose house the gathering was held in, had made so many different Indian dishes that all looked amazing. I wish I’d remembered to take photos! For dessert there was some mango cream – the lightest thing you’ll ever taste – traditional homemade rice pudding with fruit in, and my favourite, mithai (Indian sweets). I think I ate about 3 huge gulab jamuns, and can’t recall how many barfi.

One of the women kindly offered to make an announcement on my behalf about the work I was fundraising for, and the scarves I’d laid out on sale on a table in the corner. After that, all the women started thronging round it, and I ended up making £70 just from scarves!

At the end of the evening, Dave came up to give me my share of the profits, and it came to £110 – again, I couldn’t believe how much I’d just added to my fundraising total. I only ever expected to get about £40 from the evening, and thought that might even be a little optimistic.

The following day I gatecrashed another local event with my raffle tickets in hand – this time an art exhibition. I think I probably made more money than the organisers did from painting sales! The profits from this weekend alone has now raised my total to £704.34, not counting the money I expect to get from sponsorship for my upcoming bungee jump!

Speaking of which, you can still sponsor me for this, or get more minute-by-minute detail on the day (1st December) here.

A Busy Week

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As the title suggests, this week has been a bit jam-packed. Thus, despite my good intentions, I have again not come around to putting up this blog post as soon as I would have liked.

Anyhow, I received a call late on Thursday night last week from a lady I have been liaising with from Brigg Town Council, asking if I wanted to gatecrash another event (not quite her words) the following evening. I went along with bucket and fresh raffle ticket book in hand, and perched at the top of the stairs waiting for any unsuspecting attendees to walk in. My placement was clearly spot-on, as it enabled me to capture £46 from all the people who didn’t manage to sprint past me fast enough. What a fantastic and rapid way to boost my fundraising! I also succeeded in inundating all of these lovely people with flyers for my upcoming fundraising evening with local business Design Orchard. Looks like my efforts might be more successful yet!

The Saturday following this was devoted then to a pre-planned stall at Wrawby Autumn Fair, in the village hall. I was indecisively umm-ing and aah-ing about going beforehand, as I was meant to be at work that day, but committed in the end to the fundraising task ahead – and I am so glad I did!

I walked into the hall during the initial set-up expecting it be dead, and was shocked at the number of stalls that were already in place. I think I was the last one to be ready. I had a huge table (which I spent about 20 minutes re-arranging, much to my Nan’s annoyance – thanks Nan for the help by the way!).

My Nan, the ever-faithful helper

There was a real village atmosphere (or was that just me?) as I saw old faces from my primary school years coming in  and pretty much every one of them bought something from me. Even though the completion of some of the Christmas tree decorations was still ongoing during the 2 hours that the fair was open to the public, I managed to make £42.50! That’s over £80 in two days – enough for…about a month’s food in India? Or perhaps a quarter of the cost of my visa if you want to put it that way.

I was so pleased with myself, and the stall looked fantastic, as did all the decorations.

Some girl stood behind a stall

The professional touch…

After clearing up and taking the remaining stock home, I spent the rest of my week putting the finishing touches to the final few decorations still needing buttons/ribbons/wire. It may not sound like a lot of work, but such small things can take a very long time to get through, especially when you keep stabbing yourself with the needle. If I wasn’t self-employed, I’d be able to sue my boss for damages.

Just when it seemed that all was nearly completed, with only the final 20 or so pieces to finish, my poor, overworked sewing machine had a massive tantrum and started eating anything I put under its foot. Feeling confident, I pulled out my special lubricating oil and subjected every moving part I could see to rivers of the stuff. After this didn’t work however, and my machine continued to make a horrible clacking noise, I enlisted the help of my Dad. Together, we nearly dismantled the thing in an attempt to get at the inner machinery. Eventually I found the problem, smothered all the cogs in petroleum jelly, and it began sewing again like a dream. Pity it only took me a whole afternoon to figure that out.

Thursday evening then saw the completion of the final favour, which brings us to today.

This Saturday was the date I’ve been counting down to for over a month and a half, the one which began the entire crazed sewing project. The Humberside WI Christmas Fair. I therefore expected to sell as much of my stock as possible, and in the best scenario sell out, making a couple of hundred pounds in the process. I also had some silk scarves imported from India which sold like hot-cakes at the Wrawby fair.

Scarves imported from India, modelled by my mannequin

But I was bitterly disappointed by the lack of customer interest. Despite a great deal of footfall throughout the day, and the fair being open for six hours, I only sold 5 items from my stall, and made up the rest of my pitiful £34.50 profit from raffle ticket sales. In all honesty it wasn’t really worth me going, and I’ll now have to put the rest of my (mountain) of stock onto ebay or etsy (more to come on that). It’s ironic that I did much better on an event which only arose because I was already planning to attend this one. It wasn’t for lack of customer interest. I think the people who came to the fair were in general more interested in having an afternoon out than seriously purchasing goods, as several of the other stall holders also did poorly on sales.

Well, the experience has still served me a valuable lesson. I’ll now be focussing more of my attention onto selling raffle tickets – they’re easy to carry on me at all times and have a low mark-up price which encourages more people to buy. Furthermore, they don’t need to run out, as I can always purchase another book. 🙂

On a brighter note, my next upcoming event should be great fun. Scunthorpe’s Amnesty International group have kindly agreed to hold a joint fundraiser evening for me, where some of the profits will be mine, and the rest Amnesty’s. It’s basically a curry evening where people pay to attend and get their meal. I still need to think of something to contribute, edible or otherwise…until next time!

Over-excitement

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Phew, it has been a while! Lots of things to update on – the most important being that I have a couple of new fundraising events coming up.

I met with the Amnesty International group and we’re now planning to put on an Indian food evening on November 23rd (a Friday I think) and split the proceeds, which will be fantastic! I’m not cooking though as I have no idea what to do with food. I might try to make some Indian sweets though, as they’re my favourite, and the chef always gets to lick the bowl.

I’m also now attending my village’s Autumn Fair on November 10th, selling the same Christmas tree decorations that I’ll be selling at the WI Fair on the 17th. Everything is happening in November! It’s going to be a chaotic month. I’ve attached some fantabulous pictures of the various works in progress, again as a photo-diary of how things are getting on.

I did a little presentation for the village’s WI group as well last week, which was far more successful than I’d anticipated. Handing out flyers for my upcoming fundraising events, and a sponsorship form for my (still-stupid) bungee jump, it seemed like everyone gave me a donation or said that they would attend one of the events. It feels fantastic to have so much support from my local villagers. I can’t wait now for each one to happen, and to see who turns up.

My raffle ticket book for the raffle (surprisingly enough) also turned up today. Time to start selling! I’m thinking a pound a strip. I’m still collecting prizes from businesses and other places – I’m very good at getting freebies – so I already have some chocolate boxes, a voucher for Roe’s Farm Dairy, a £25 treatment at Earth Energies, and £20 for Bengal Spice, where part of the evening is being held. I must keep going!

Looking at visas today also made me realise that the departure date is starting to get quite close now. Up until this point I’d been very good at keeping calm and pretending to think about other things, but now I’M SO EXCITED. My internet history list is becoming increasingly dominated by India-related sites. So much so, that google keeps giving me ads for shalwar kameezes and flight comparisons, and deals for mobile phone rates to India. Stop it, I’m already excited enough! As soon as I step off that plane I’m going to have to grab the nearest mehndi tube and find a saree shop to release all the urges that have been building up for the past 3 years. Sigh, still two months to go.

I also met my supervisor at the charity over skype last week, and she seems spot on. We’ve agreed that I’ll be staying with a family for the first two months on a probationary period. I’ve also had a couple of offers to stay from my colleagues at work who have relatives in Bangalore, and both my (Indian) bosses are going back to the city whilst I’m there! It’s a small world.

Anyway, I’m off now to go and watch a Bollywood film. It might give me a temporary fix.

Dressmaking

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I realise I haven’t updated my blog in a couple of weeks. To explain why, I’ve made a little photo diary of what I’ve been up to…

Basically lots of sewing christmas crafty things for a stall I’m now booked onto for the Humberside WI’s christmas fair. Can’t wait! I’ve been making little favours, or bags to put sweets/jewellery/gifts into, and lots of tree decorations. I got all my fabric scraps out which are no good for anything else as they’re too small, spent hours ironing them all out, and had loads of fun designing my own patterns.

The favours took the longest to make surprisingly, even though they only required hemming and a line sewing for the tie to go through. In contrast, the tree decorations look amazing and are really quick. I’ve probably only spent four or five hours on them so far and all I have left to do is stuff them and stitch up the gaps. That’s for about 50 as well, so on average each will be about 10 minutes to make.

I’m also super-busy trying to organise an evening with the local Amnesty International group in Scunthorpe, and still gathering sponsorship for my bungee jump. I got an article in the local rag last month too – nearly half a page spread! Hopefully people will be interested in what I’m doing and want to help support me.

Enjoy the pics. I’ll post some new ones up from the next thrilling event in the build-up to India!!!

Earth Energies Evening

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My first (proper) fundraiser event!

Jan Cassells from Earth Energies, giving her talk on the benefits of fruit and veg

I was invited by Jan from Earth Energies (www.earth-energies.co.uk) to attend her talk in Broughton (a nearby village) on her business and its ethos. She spoke about the multitude of benefits from eating fruit and veg, and about so many of the ill-effects from other foods that I think I may never eat anything but apples again. The one that sticks in my mind is the plastic coating that develops from margarine if you leave it long enough. :S

But on a happier note, I gave a quick speech at the end about the work I would be doing and appealed for donations. Even though there were only a handful of people there I managed to raise a fantastic £20.88. I never cease to be amazed by how generous people are.

This has been highlighted again by two of my friends donating to me online almost as soon as I created an event for my sponsored bungee jump. I never would have thought people would be so willing to help me get to India. My running fundraising total so far is £235.49. Keep it coming!

Mad Ideas

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After last week’s success in the fundraising stakes, things have gone less well this week. The Rotary Club have no monies left for me, and my cakes that I left in the work canteen got thrown away by the kitchen staff. Damn them and their food hygiene! Having also sent off my dubious application to the local council, and having just received a pay cheque substantially lower than what I expected (:O), I decided it was time for to take drastic fundraising action.

Initially I was contemplating a sponsored skydive, but the cheapest I could find cost over £200. £200 for 30 seconds of free-fall!? Next was bungee jumping, but I really hate the idea so just put it to one side. I then found an online offer to take a fire-walking course – amazing! – but it was all the way down in Taunton. It was looking possible, and I was about to use my tesco vouchers for the 5 and a half hour train journey there, when I clicked the button ‘activity days: adrenalin’ and found that I could bungee jump for absolutely nothing (well, in fake tesco money).

So I’ve now ended up doing the one thing I least wanted to do, and actually feel quite terrified about it. I love free-fall rides at theme parks, but I’ve been on those bouncing things too where they strap you in a harness, and I hated the feeling of being pulled back up again. :S The only thing that will make me jump off the edge of that platform is knowing people will have sponsored me. Might have to get a helpful shove on the day. I’ve set the date for December 1st, what a way to start Christmas! 😀

Fundraising Target

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So I got a letter in the post on Friday from the village parish council, saying that they wanted to sponsor me with £50! I’m so happy! That equates to nearly 6 months of anti-malarials, or 1/6 of my visa. I didn’t expect such a quick response, having only sent a request to them the week before. Following on from this success I’ve now just finished another application to my regional council, which would make a massive difference to my fundraising target if I got it as their standard amount to give to individuals is £500.

This also made me think perhaps I should let more people know what the money is actually going towards, and the sort of target I’m aiming for. Obviously I’m hoping to fund as much as possible from my own pocket, but unfortunately minimum wage waitressing/betting assistant/mystery shopper/avon sales rep/busker just doesn’t cut it in the savings stakes. So here, for you perusal, is my budget for the year:

Item Total cost
Return flight London-Bangalore £500
Employment visa (working unpaid with a charity) £310
Anti-malarials (12 months) £120
Travel insurance (12 months) £450
Accommodation (12 months) £2000
Living costs (est. £30/week) £1560
10% contingency £494
Total project cost £5434

…about £5400, which is cheaper than you can live on in the UK for a year.