Posts Tagged :

fundraising

Success for our first Padel Tournament

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Last month Spread a Smile held it’s first ever Padel Tournament, generously sponsored by our friends at XO3D.

Taking place at the Stratford Padel Club we were joined by some brilliant teams, all ready to explore this exciting sport and help raise vital funds to bring joy and happiness to seriously ill children and their families.

Padel is a mix between tennis and squash and usually played in doubles on an enclosed court one third the size of a tennis court. The sport is known for combining action with fun and social interaction, it’s easy to pick up and suitable for players of all ages and skills to join in together. We are extremely grateful to Stratford Padel Club for making us so welcome and everyone who joined us on the day, helping t0 make it such a success.

Also to our brilliant sponsor XO3D who said; “XO3D has always felt that supporting charities and worthwhile causes is an important part of being in business and giving back to the community.

“Only one member of the XO3D team had played Padel before. We were all incredibly excited to try what seemed to be a combination of tennis and squash. A lot of craziness, a lot of running around, and a great team day out. The fact that our efforts were also contributing to such a worthy cause, made it even more enjoyable. The biggest highlight was the resounding support from the crowd, as well as mingling with other companies and teams who were also involved in the day. I don’t think a single person left without a huge grin on their face.

“A massive thanks to the team at Spread a Smile for showing us that it’s not only the children that they can work their magic with.”

Please email us at fundraising@spreadasmile.org to find out more about this year’s event and sign up to our monthly e-news to stay up to date as information and sponsorship opportunities are announced.

You can also read more about this year’s event from our friends at XO3D here.

Team Smile takes on the London Marathon

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This weekend, nine incredible supporters will take on the iconic TCS London Marathon in aid of Spread a Smile.

The London Marathon is one of the world’s most popular marathons, covering 26.2 miles around the streets of our beautiful capital city, taking in London’s best landmarks including Buckingham Palace, The Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf.

We spoke to Team Smile marathon runner, Charlotte Weatherall – Director of Sales & Marketing at Corinthia London – about the race ahead, her training and motivations for taking on this amazing challenge and supporting Spread a Smile.

Charlotte: “I ran my first marathon in 2009 in New York with the only goal of getting over the finish line and with no intention of ever doing another one. Since then, I have run 10 marathons in total, including the Brighton Marathon earlier this month. The London Marathon will be my 11th which seems quite fitting seeing as it’s also Spread a Smile’s 11th birthday this month. 

“There is something special about running a marathon – the commitment to training, feeling fitter and heathier and then the magic of the day itself. It hurts and it’s as much a mental challenge as a physical one. But the sense of achievement when you finish is so special it encourages you back to try again.

“I started training for the London Marathon at the beginning of the year and have managed to stick to my plan on the whole. The longer runs of 16, 18 and 20 miles are hard – they take a long time and they hurt. With a young family to juggle alongside work and training there is no rest. The hardest part has been managing the long runs and then still showing up and being a parent, when all I want to do is lie on the sofa! Having my family behind me has kept me going and time is precious, so better use it for something meaningful. The sofa can wait for another day.

“I was introduced to Spread a Smile during the pandemic when the hotel I worked for at the time wanted to gift boxes of afternoon tea and vouchers to NHS hospitals as a thank you for their amazing work during Covid. A mutual friend introduced me to the charity and they helped us set up the initiative and we gifted boxes to NHS key workers. I was instantly impressed and inspired by the charity’s passion and energy and everyone I met and spoke to was so wonderful.

“Since I joined Corinthia London two years ago, I have been able to nominate Spread a Smile as the hotel’s partner charity. Now in the second year of partnership, I feel very proud to see colleagues getting behind the charity and supporting events and initiatives as well as fundraising.

“I organised a team of colleagues from Corinthia London to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon last October and we raised over £13,000, which was an incredibly proud moment. When the team at Spread a Smile mentioned they might be able to get a spot for me in the London Marathon, I jumped at the chance. There is no other marathon like it in the world!

“As a mother of two, there is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for their health. Love for a child is like nothing I have experienced, and I find it an unbearable thought to imagine that being taken away. I have always empathised with what the children and families supported by Spread a Smile must go through whilst having nothing but respect and admiration for their positivity in the face of adversity.

“I believe Spread a Smile help at the most challenging moments for a family and if I can be a small part in helping that continue, then it is an absolute privilege to do so.

“To anyone thinking of taking on a challenge like the London Marathon for Spread a Smile, I say “do it!” You will never regret it once you cross the finish line and the sense of achievement and pride in yourself for making the commitment, training, raising money and then doing what you agreed to do on the day, is a feeling like no other.”

A huge thank you and GOOD LUCK from everyone at Spread a Smile to Charlotte and all of our amazing marathon runners for their commitment, efforts and support. You’ve got this!

Meet our new team members

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It’s our aim to spread smiles to as many seriously ill children and their families as possible and we’re lucky to have an incredible team enabling us to do just that.

Two of the newest members to the Spread a Smile family are Gary Broadway who recently joined our Services team as Family Events Coordinator and Tasha Mann who is our new Community Fundraising Manager.

Here’s a little bit from Gary and Tasha to help you get to know them.

Gary: I previously worked in the Play Team at Kingston Hospital, providing activities, entertainment, play opportunities and themed events for inpatients during their treatment. Whilst working there, we partnered with Spread a Smile and I instantly fell in love with what they were doing and their mission to provide entertainment for all seriously ill children.

“When the opportunity to join Spread a Smile as Family Events Coordinator came up, I jumped at the chance as I felt my experience of working in hospitals and trying to create magical moments for them aligned with Spread a Smile’s goals. I’ve already been to my first event and I’m very excited to meet all our amazing families, help put on more memorable events and help make more children and young people smile! It really is a special place to work.”

“I love to spend time with my family and friends, and I also love to travel, eat and explore nice places. Seeing other people happy is what makes me smile most!”

Tasha: “I have a background in community and events fundraising and am delighted to be part of the Spread a Smile team. I’ve recently come back from a 5-month trip travelling around South East Asia and Australia (which was incredible) and I’m ready to be back in the charity world and am really enjoying working closely with our wonderful supporters and fundraisers.

“Everyone at Spread a Smile has welcomed me with open arms. Just like the incredible work the charity does to help bring joy and laughter to children, the team reflect that with their compassion, kindness, and warmth. I couldn’t be more excited to join such an important and dynamic organisation.”

“Smiling can have such a hugely positive effect on everyone. For me, running, cooking and spending time with my friends always brings out a smile.”

A huge welcome to both Tasha and Gary and you can meet more of our amazing team here.

Royal Parks Half Marathon places

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Don’t miss out on your chance to snap up a place on Team Smile for the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 13 October.

Last year 67 runners joined us to take on the beautiful 13.1-mile course on closed roads and within four of London’s eight Royal Parks – Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.

This was our largest team to date including some of our amazing supporters and fundraisers from the Corinthia Hotel, Mishcon de Reya, Hamilton Court Foreign Exchange, Downing LLP, Blackrock and Convex Insurance.

“What an incredible day to be part of. I loved every second of it and running in aid of Spread a Smile made it all the more special. It was an emotional endurance text which I would 100% do all over again.” Natalie Donaldson, Spread a Smile supporter

This year, we’re excited to be returning to this brilliant event and hope that our supporters will get in touch to be part of something really special.

Register today!

Event date: Sunday 13 October
Registration fee: £30
Minimum sponsorship: £500 (excluding Gift Aid)

Course: Gentle undulations but generally flat course, making it fantastic for both beginners and experienced runners.

Please get in touch with Rimi at rimi@spreadasmile.org for a chat or if you have any questions.

Our first ever Padel Tournament

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For 2024, we’re delighted to introduce a new fundraising event to our events calendar – our inaugural Padel Tournament at Stratford Padel Club, London on Thursday 18 April.

Padel is a mix between tennis and squash and usually played in doubles on an enclosed court one third the size of a tennis court. The sport is known for combining action with fun and social interaction, it’s easy to pick up and suitable for players of all ages and skills to join in together.

Padel is gaining huge popularity across the UK (and the world) and we’re delighted to be able to bring supporters together to explore this exciting game at the UK’s largest padel club. Last year our friends at Blackrock (pictured), supported Spread a Smile by hosting their very own Padel Tournament to raise vital funds to help spread smiles.

So what are you waiting for? Email Rosie today or click here to find out more about taking one of our doubles places and to discover our exciting sponsorship opportunities. With your support, we can ensure we are there to spread smiles to seriously ill children and their families when they need us most.

Also keep up to date with our latest news and activities via our e-newsletter or on socials @spreadasmileuk

Smash Arts ‘Technicolour’ triumph

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On the evening of Saturday 17 February, Smash Arts Theatre Company took to the stage at the Centenary Theatre, Berkhamsted School in aid of Spread a Smile for a very special performance of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

However, this was no ordinary production, as the cast and crew only found out 24-hours before taking to the stage on Saturday night which musical they would be performing. With everyone finding out their roles and rehearsals starting at 7.30pm on Friday 16 February, the team embarked on the huge challenge of staging the show in 24 hours, with limited time to sleep and working solidly through the night and resulting in a magnificent and joy-filled performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

As audience member Karen Jordan said, “It really was truly amazing and the talent of all the boy/girls/men/women taking part was outstanding. Their personalities shone through and the way they interacted with the audience was brilliant and just showed how professional they all are. I could have watched it for another hour, two, three, four hours more… in fact I could have watched it all night long. It was brilliant!”

The Smash Arts team and cast raised an incredible £15,927.31 to support Spread a Smile’s work bringing joy and laughter to seriously ill children in NHS hospitals and hospices across the country, with Smash Arts Co-Founder Alex Williams saying, “This was a challenge we will not forget for a long time, an experience for the entire Smash family to support an incredible cause. And what a show it was! I think we can safely say many smiles were spread and many tears shed on Saturday night, but every minute of tiredness was worth it for the final outcome.”

Smash Arts Theatre company was formed in 2020 by co-founders Alex Williams and Dani Acors with Dani also being a regular member of the Spread a Smile team of entertainers, using her performing talents to spread smiles across Spread a Smile’s hospital and hospice partners.

Dani said, “This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. Joseph is a very special show for me, so to combine that with working with an incredibly talented group of friends to create something so magical in such a short space of time for a charity so very close to my heart, is not only a privilege but an honour I will keep close with me forever.”

There was a magical atmosphere in the air as the evening unfolded, with the audience cheering and clapping at every opportunity and the performers obviously enjoying the experience as much as the audience, with everyone coming together for a standing ovation at the end and a final rendition of ‘Any Dream will Do.’

Lucy Jackson Spread a Smile Chief Executive said, “We are extremely grateful to everyone at Smash Arts Theatre Company – Dani, Alex, the cast, and crew – Berkhamsted School and everyone who bought tickets and supported this brilliant event for doing so much and helping to raise such an incredible amount for Spread a Smile. The show was an absolute triumph, and we feel proud to be the chosen charity for such an uplifting, positive, creative and empowering initiative.”

Thank you, Dani, Alex and everyone at Smash Arts Theatre Company.

Supporter Nick Stewart takes on Hyrox

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Nick Stewart is a Climate Change & CFO Leader at Baringa Partners and joined the Spread a Smile Business Committee in 2023 to help explore new fundraising and awareness for the charity. We spoke to Nick about how he became involved with Spread a Smile and his Hyrox fundraising challenge which raised £3,000 to help spread smiles to the families we support.

“A good friend of mine, Mark London who sits on Spread a Smile’s Business Committee, first introduced me to the charity. I’d been working with Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for a number of years and when I met Lucy Jackson, Spread a Smile’s Chief Executive, I realised the connection between the two charities, as Spread a Smile entertainers regularly visit GOSH to spread smiles across the wards.  I’ve seen firsthand the difference Spread a Smile’s entertainers make in hospital and the impact is huge. I was looking to give a bit more time to charities that I feel passionately about, and this felt like the perfect fit.

“I was delighted to join Spread a Smile’s Business Committee and really enjoyed my first meeting. We’re in the process of setting our plans and developing ways to support Spread a Smile and raise vital funds and awareness. It’s exciting to think of the difference we will help make. I’ve spent a lot of the last five years working in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) arena, so I’m hoping to bring a good network across the city to support our aims.

I also decided to fundraise for the charity and was already signed up to Hyrox, a global fitness race which is quite intense and designed to test your overall body strength and fitness. It’s a real challenge, so seemed perfect. I trained with a group of friends from my gym, Roam Athletics, and we all took part in Hyrox at the ExCel Centre, London back in November. It was the most excruciating and challenging activity I’ve done, both mentally and physically, but I really enjoyed it and I’m hoping to sign up again. I was delighted to raise £3,000 in total and am extremely grateful to all my friends and colleagues for supporting me. I was pleased to finish in one hour 22 as the World Record is  just under one hour.

“Alongside the fundraising, I also joined the team in December at the Spread a Smile office to help pack up their Christmas Hampers. It was great to meet the wider team and really get a feel for the work they are doing and the difference they are making. I’m so glad to be a part of that and am very much looking forward to next steps and what lies ahead for this brilliant charity.”

A huge thank you to Nick for his incredible commitment and support. If you are interested in finding out how you or your company can support Spread a Smile and help spread smiles to seriously ill children and their families, please get in touch by email today. We’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Taking on the Sahara Desert in aid of Spread a Smile

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In March 2024, Team Smile will head to Morocco for an incredible 5-day trek, covering 100km across the Sahara Desert. We spoke to Spread a Smile supporter and professional photographer, Simon Webb about why he is taking on this amazing challenge and helping to raise vital funds for our work spreading smiles to seriously ill children and young people.

How were first introduced to Spread a Smile?

“I was introduced to the charity through their CEO, Lucy Jackson. I’ve worked with Lucy for over 15 years as a photographer and was asked to do a shoot with the Spread a Smile entertainers at my studio in Camberwell. It was such a lovely day and the team were so wonderful. I found out more about the charity and what they do and was truly inspired.”

What motivated you to get involved with the charity?

“I loved working with the team and saw how amazing the work they do is. I do a lot of commercial work and it’s really nice to have the opportunity to use my skills as a photographer to give something back. I want to be able to help others in some way and this feels right. There is something lovely and really special about Spread a Smile and it’s clear that they make such a huge difference to so many people.”

What made you sign up for the Sahara Desert trek in aid of Spread a Smile?

“I love the desert – it’s so vast and open and it’s a wonderful place to go and be at one with yourself. Living in the London with all the noise and craziness, it’s good to find a place and time to think and reflect. I saw the trek mentioned on Instagram and I knew I wanted to do it. Life and work are always so busy and full and I instantly felt like it was what I needed to do – to support this wonderful charity and find space for myself. It feels like such an exciting adventure and it reminded me of all the stuff I loved doing when I was a boy – hiking, caving, being outdoors all the time – I felt a pull to get out there in the wild again. Being able to support an amazing charity like Spread a Smile at the same time makes the experience complete.”

What are you looking forward to the most?

“I’m looking forward to being away from my computer and phone (although naturally I’ll take the opportunity to capture some beautiful pictures). I’m excited to meet new people and have a whole new adventure. I’m ready for the challenge and looking forward to pushing myself. I’m already doing some outward-bound training and getting into that world a bit more. It’s going to be fun and so rewarding.

“I’m so pleased to be raising vital funds for Spread a Smile to help the families they support. To be able to help children who are seriously ill in hospital is really motivating. I can’t think of a better reason for doing it.”

What would you say to someone else thinking about signing up for the trek?

“Do it! It will be rewarding for you as an individual and also for all of the families you’ll be supporting. It’ll be such an adventure bringing positivity and happiness to everyone involved.”

Inspired by Simon? Join us from Saturday 2 March – Saturday 9 March 2024 for this incredible trek across the Sahara Desert in aid of Spread a Smile. Find the full itinerary and a short film here, or contact Rimi at fundraising@spreadasmile.org to join Team Smile today.

You can check out Simon’s photography skills here!

Meet our supporters extraordinaire

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As a charity, Spread a Smile doesn’t receive any government funding and we are therefore extremely grateful to every single donor, fundraiser and corporate supporter who helps to fund out vital work.

Two such amazing people are Lee McDowell and Danny Imray who have supported Spread a Smile for a number of years, helping to raise thousands of pounds and much needed awareness for Spread a Smile.

Close friends for over 20 years, Lee and Danny are both successful businessmen within the construction industry and insurance industry respectively. We spoke to Lee and Danny about how they came to support Spread a Smile and what motivates them.

“We were first introduced to Spread a Smile by Lee’s friend Rob Threadgold who is also Chair of the Spread a Smile Business Committee. We were looking for a children’s charity to support as part of an event we were organising and found Spread a Smile to be the perfect fit. We hosted a football event at Billericay Football Club, bringing together 20 teams for an exciting 5-a-side tournament. The day was a great success, concluding with a lively gathering and a disco for all participants. It was great to have Spread a Smile as part of it and since then, we’ve been committed to doing what we can to support this brilliant charity.

“We’ve seen first-hand the positive impact that Spread a Smile has on the lives of the families they support. Knowing that our fundraising is helping to achieve that is incredibly rewarding. The dedication and effort put in by everyone at Spread a Smile is truly inspiring – something we find even more meaningful being parents ourselves. We are regularly kept up to date on the charity’s progress which helps motivate us and drives us to continue to do what we can do to help.

“Each year we host two annual events: a football day and a golf day, both aimed at raising awareness and funds for Spread a Smile. Additionally, a team of volunteers from Lee’s company LMAC Group generously gives up their time to help wrap and deliver Christmas gifts to seriously ill children and their siblings.

“Over the past three years, we’ve successfully raised over £123,427 for Spread a Smile, something we are extremely proud of. Our goal is to continue to build on this success and reach our target of £500,000 for the charity and to help spread even more smiles across the country.

“We feel proud to work with and support such a brilliant cause. The work they do is truly remarkable and knowing we are helping to raise essential funds to support numerous families during challenging times of their lives, is deeply fulfilling. Within our business, we have a unique platform to make a difference, and supporting Spread a Smile holds a special place in our hearts as it unites people and creates a sense of community. It is a privilege to be part of such a special family.”

It’s thanks to people like Lee and Danny that Spread a Smile is able to continue its work spreading joy and happiness to seriously ill children, young people and their families up and down the country. We’d like to say a huge thank you to them and everyone at LMAC Group for their incredible support. As Lucy Jackson, Spread a Smile Chief Executive said, “Lee and Danny are an inspiration to us all and it is an absolute pleasure to have them as part of our Spread a Smile family. We are so grateful for all that they do to support Spread a Smile and our families, bringing such kindness and dedication to everything they do. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Access Self Storage Christmas gift drive

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Over the last 10 years, Access Self Storage has collected over 18,500 children’s toys for charity through their annual Christmas campaign and this year, Spread a Smile is delighted to be their nominated charity.

Access Self Storage is encouraging local residents and customers to donate brand new and unwrapped toys and gifts at one of stores or storage locations around the country. The gifts will then be collated and sent to Spread a Smile HQ where our elves will deliver them to thousands of seriously ill children and young people either at home, hospital or via our virtual Christmas grotto

Jan Albert Fourie, Head of Operations at Access Self Storage commented, “Our stores work closely with their local communities and each year build upon this campaign.  We hope that this 10th anniversary year will enable us to smash the 20,000 donated toys ceiling, and that children in hospital across the UK will be treated to a gift this year from our Christmas collection.  If all our customers and our local communities get behind the campaign it will make a huge difference.”

Staff have already begun collecting toys and people are invited to bring their toy & gift donations in to store between 13th November – 11th December, ahead of the charity collection and distribution in time for Christmas.

Lucy Jackson, Chief Executive Spread a Smile said of the partnership, “Partnering with Access Self Storage, for the first time, for its toy collection will mean we can spread even more magic this Christmas.  It’s a precious time of year and we know the Santa visits create unique and lasting memories.  The support of the Access Self Storage teams, customers and their communities is truly priceless.”

We are so grateful to everyone at Access Self Storage and all of their customers for their brilliant support this Christmas. You can find a list of stores here.