Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm 22, currently a postgraduate, finishing off my master's degree in International Relations down at the University of Exeter. Previously I studied Philosophy with French, also in Exeter.
What made you choose to support Hope for Children?
I was initially drawn in to a Kilimanjaro climb in my first week of university, way back in 2013. I distinctly remember frantically taking down notes from the initial information meeting, and then rushing home to get signed up to take on the challenge. One of the things that initially stuck with me was how personal Hope for Children is, as a charity - the exact opposite of a large, faceless organisation. Yet, the charity is large enough to make tangible and valuable differences in its areas of work.
In your own words, how have you supported Hope for Children in the past?
I took on my first Kilimanjaro challenge in Summer 2014, and then upon my return I became a Hope Ambassador, and led my own team back to Tanzania the following year. Following my second attempt to summit the mountain (this time unfortunately unsuccessful), I was the elected Challenges Officer at Exeter RAG, and I decided to bring in a new challenge to the roster - an Atlas Mountain Trek. That year, I sent out teams to both Tanzania and Morocco, and was fortunate enough to go and spend some time with the team out in East Africa as well.
Meanwhile, I joined a group of other Hope Ambassadors in visiting the charity's projects near Kampala, Uganda, and was witness to some more of the invaluable work being done by Hope and its in-country project partners out there. Alongside the other Ambassadors, I received my NLP Diploma from Murielle in late 2016.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Hope Gala Ball in each of 2015 and 2016, and the staff were kind to nominate me for Student Fundraiser of the Year each time. I was thrilled to win the award in 2016, and over the years have led fundraising projects totalling over £150,000 for Hope for Children.
Tell us about how you organised your Kilimanjaro fundraising. Did you always think it would be such a success?
Initially, I did a lot of my fundraising whilst playing shows with my band. I would set up my collection tins at our merch table, and a lot of my early fundraising was done through that. I later branched out into more bread-and-butter fundraising techniques, like car boot sales, street raids and so on.
It's my view that if you spend all of the fundraising season assuming your fundraising is going to be flawless, you risk getting complacent! So, no - there were often times when I worried about reaching targets, particularly early on. For any new fundraiser, there is a period of getting to know the ropes - charity law, SU regulations and so on, but also acquiring the knack for arranging street collections and bag packs, and learning how to pitch to potential donors - and I wasn't exempt from that learning period.
That said, I never imagined that I'd have quite the success that I have had. I am extremely grateful to the Hope staff over the years who helped me achieve that - some of whom have since moved on to pastures new - and inspired me to care deeply for the charity itself, both its work and the people that it's composed of.
Are you currently looking forward to another adventure or event?
Well, I'm currently studying out in California, and soon after I return I'll be heading out to Peru, to tackle a 6-day trek out to Machu Picchu. I'm not sure what's next on the list after that, but I'll be seeking similar adventures for a few more years yet!
What tips do you have for those who would like to organise their own Hope for Children event or take part in a challenge?
Firstly, you will have times (especially early on) where you think "I can't raise that much money", or "I can't make this event work". You're welcome to have those thoughts about your fundraising, but go ahead and do it anyway. You will surprise yourself. Together with Hope for Children I achieved amazing things - but don't for a second think that meant that I always thought I had it in me! I didn't, and there will be times when you don't either. You do have it in you, and it can be done!
Secondly, if you've ever thought about climbing Kilimanjaro (or in fact, taking on any other challenge), do it. Just, do it. These experiences will change your life, make no mistake. And you'll never look back.
Finally, make the most of it! If you're a student fundraiser, your three (or in my case, four) years at university will go by in a flash. Seize each opportunity and savour each experience, because you will miss it after graduation.