I spent today in Regent Arcade, Cheltenham, selling Pink Car Rally Charity Calendars. I was in a super location, in between Druckers and Thorntons, with BHS on my left and the exit doors in front of me, offset to the left. I thought I had dressed warmly; long sleeved thermal vest, long sleeved top, pink car rally t.shirt, big pink zip-up hoodie, woolly tights, trousers, socks and comfortable shoes! In fact, I thought I was going to over-heat before I left home! In the event, I was decidedly chilly for a lot of the day, so spent a lot of time ‘bouncing’ on the spot, to keep warm!
But – and I don’t mean this to be as cheesy as it might sound – the thing which brought me most warmth during the day, was the amazing conversations I had with the lovely people who came to say “Hello”, to buy a calendar, or to pop some pennies in the collecting tub. Their stories were incredibly moving and I felt very honoured to have been told some very personal things. I want to share a few of these things with you, without giving away any confidences, so that I can make what we do ‘real’ for you, too.
I will list some of the things that were shared with me, in bullet form – please remember, these comments were made today. Just today.
- My daughter recently donated her hair to your charity (several people said this)
- I am so pleased to see you – my daughter has just had her hair cut – where should we send it?
- I’ve brought a hair donation with me – please can I give it to you?
- I’m planning to grow/cut my hair and donate it to the charity.
- One of my family members has received one of your wigs (more than one person said this)
- I have just discovered I have cancer (young person)
- I would like to donate. This is my son, he had cancer when he was young. (Gorgeously handsome and extremely healthy looking young man smiles at me)
- I have alopecia. (Followed by a very moving discussion)
- I wanted to thank you for what you do – my daughter is wearing one of your wigs.
I’m sure I haven’t remembered ALL of the comments that were made… I didn’t write any down – perhaps I should have, but I certainly didn’t expect to hear so many links to the charity.
Today made me think back to 2007, when I first volunteered to help raise awareness of the charity and, thinking on my feet, suggested that I create a Pink Car Rally. I can remember having many, many conversations…. repeating over and over again, the name of the charity, what it did, where it was based etc., etc., No-one had heard of it, but as always… once people heard about it, they loved it. In fact, one lady who chatted with me today said much the same thing. She knows Simon & Wendy Tarplee, who founded the charity and she used to regularly suggest that the Little Princess Trust should be the ‘chosen charity’ for her workplace, but no-one would support the suggestion because they hadn’t heard of it! Now they actively support it and love it!
In the six years since I first volunteered to help raise awareness of the charity, I have watched this wonderful organisation grow and flourish. It now has a small team of very dedicated paid staff, and a team of passionate, loyal volunteers. It has grown to such an extent, that it has now given over 2000 ‘real hair’ wigs to children who have lost their own hair, mainly through cancer treatment.
The more well-known the charity becomes, the more families it will be able to help and so today was not just about selling calendars. There were still plenty of people today who were unaware of the charity and the Pink Car Rally….. but nowhere near as many as there used to be!
But whereas six years ago, when I started promoting the charity no-one had heard of it before, today was very different. It was wonderful that so many people already new about the charity, but the people who shared their stories with me were the ones who illustrated this fact most… and to those people in particular, I would like to say “Thank you, for making it real, because it’s hearing stories like yours that helps me to realise that the hours I and all of the other volunteers donate to the charity, do have an effect”. I will return to Regent Arcade tomorrow wearing an additional layer of clothing, an even bigger smile on my face and a very warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart.
PS We raised an amazing £212.93 today – thank you :-)