In taking part in Eye to Eye 2017 and sharing the stories of my fellow team members, the RD Ramblers, it occurred to me that there are actually many more stories hiding behind the scenes in the shape of our numerous supporters who have so kindly sponsored us in our fundraising efforts. I’m thinking of the people who supported my sister and I last year as well as those who have sponsored our team this year. The whole purpose of our blister-inducing fourteen mile trek across London was to raise money for Moorfields Eye Charity, and of course we couldn’t have done this without people’s help. So this blog post is a celebration of the kindness and generosity of all our supporters. 🙂
Having observed the full horror of my painful days of posturing misery following various surgeries, certain people who are close to me probably had more inclination to give than others. I think perhaps my mum, sister, aunt and uncle hoped that by raising as much money as possible, a magical cure might be found, and hence they’ve all been extremely generous in both their monetary and their moral support. Certain friends have also been very generous, including old university friends, people I’ve met more recently, and a couple of school friends whom I haven’t seen since I was about 17 years old! (We’ll gloss over how long that actually is – I feel old enough already as a result of the amount of time spent sitting in eye clinics where most patients appear to be well past retirement age.) Of course, generosity doesn’t necessarily bear any relation to the amount of money donated. I’ve been particularly touched by donations from people whom I know aren’t particularly flush, and it’s always the case that the amount itself doesn’t mean as much as the gesture of support in making the donation. However, having said that, we are trying to raise as much as possible!
With this in mind, I was hugely grateful to my South Korean friend for a rather large donation which came completely out of the blue. In fact, I had to ask her whether she’d added an extra zero by mistake. This is someone whom I met back in 2001, during the longest ever train journey from Canterbury to London (never mind Chaucer and his travelling tales). If I mention the fatal words ‘rail replacement bus service’, my UK readers will know exactly what I’m talking about here and groan accordingly. In the middle of a busload of grumbling passengers, she tapped me on the shoulder to enquire if she was on the bus going to London. I nodded cautiously, not liking to betray my distrust of the British public transport system to someone who was clearly a visitor to the country. We fell into conversation and when it transpired that she was studying for an MA at the art college in Canterbury, we spent the rest of the journey in animated discussion of Morandi and whether his paintings surpassed his etchings. Upon arrival in London, we swapped ‘phone numbers and promises of meeting up and tasting Korean food at some point in the future, and both went on our way. Perhaps surprisingly, we have kept in touch – albeit sporadically – right up until the past couple of years when she moved from South Korea to China. When, after months of silence, I received an email notification of her donation to our JustGiving page which including a message telling me that she was shortly moving to another country, it was like a double blessing.
We’ve had donations from other people which have been equally surprising and touching. The two people whom we met and walked with during Eye to Eye 2016 made a generous donation, as they’d planned to join us this year but unfortunately were unable to. A few people have donated whom I’ve never actually met and only ‘know’ online. This category of supporters comprises mainly my eye buddies, who have an obvious reason for supporting our cause, but nevertheless it’s still hugely appreciated. My Dutch eye buddy had problems with our JustGiving page last year but she refused to give up and her determined efforts paid off (literally!) in the end when she was able to make her donation. This year, seven of my eye buddies very kindly donated – five from the UK and two from the US!
When Lucy and I signed up again for Eye to Eye, after taking part last year, we thought that we were unlikely to raise as much money. I’m very aware that everyone has specific charities they prefer to support, as well as the fact that we all get bombarded by requests to support various charities and sadly we can’t all give to every worthy cause. We felt that we couldn’t keep asking for sponsorship. However, many people encouraged us to go ahead with it, pointing out that people aren’t compelled to give, but those who are aware of the importance of Moorfields’ work and the fact that it has such a personal significance for me would probably be happy to support us again. We’re very lucky that many people have done just that, and I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to all of you ‘double supporters’ out there. And thank you so much to everyone else who’s donated as well! I think Lucy just about summed it up when she said in her Eye to Eye 2017 story, “I could never do a job in fundraising as I feel guilty asking people to sponsor us to go for a walk as I feel I should be offering something back. Whenever we have a new donation on our JustGiving page it does wonders for my mental health (and I think Emma’s too) as we get that feeling of “wow, people are supporting us and they don’t expect anything back, they’re doing it because they care”. So thank you!” 🙂