Willow blog

The impact of my Willow Special Day will last a lifetime.

March 20, 2020

In 2004 Claire went on a much-needed Willow Special Day after being diagnosed with leukaemia. She was so grateful that she encouraged her family to start fundraising and eventually joined our team as a Special Day Maker, helping others benefit from the experience she had. Claire tells us about her personal journey and why Special Days are so important…

I heard about Willow for the first time when I was in Addenbrookes Hospital. I was diagnosed four months before my wedding day with leukaemia. All my plans for a hen party and honeymoon had to be cancelled, and so my nurse thought it would be a lovely idea to have some pampering with close family and a best friend at Champneys, Henlow before the big day.

Being poorly and experiencing a Special Day with Willow completely changed my life. Up until the day I applied, I never realised charities like this existed. This is what brought me to Willow and I now have my dream job as a Special Day Maker.

Because of the Special Day I received, my family will be forever grateful, and they love to get involved with fundraising just as much as I do, especially my beautiful twins Archie and Megan. As a family we have raised more than £2,500!

We asked Claire some questions about her fundraising:

What fundraising event/activity have you enjoyed the most?

I think my personal favourite was the Willow 10k (I did the 5k option), combined with my Willow weight loss. I set up a Facebook page so that everybody could follow my progress…even on the weeks where I didn’t do so well. The more training I did the more weight I lost and the more money I raised.

What are you most proud of?

I am so proud of all of my fundraising and even more proud of my children, who have thoroughly embraced the Willow family. They will raise money for Willow at any given opportunity and are always spreading the Willow word at school. Not only did they join in at the 10k, but also organised two cake sales at school, completed the kids Mini Mudder and helped me to organise a Willow Halloween disco for their school chums. We were thinking of doing another one of those this year as it was such a fab evening!

What advice would you give to someone looking to take on a fundraising challenge?

I would say no matter how big, small or crazy your ideas, every penny counts and helps us to make more Special Days possible. Get everybody involved and spread the Willow word. Kids love raising money for charity and I think that it’s so good for them to understand how fortunate they are and that there are so many people out there who are worse off than them. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible, so go for it, have fun, challenge yourself and be AMAZING!

Is there a specific challenge you would still like to do?

After completing the 5K and weight loss in 2018 I feel that I should now set myself a new challenge. I just haven’t yet decided what! We have another Halloween party planned for October, so hopefully this will be just as much of a success as the first one. As much as I enjoy the fundraising side of things, I also love volunteering at Willow events and I hope to do much more of this in the future. 

My fundraising for Willow will be ongoing. I have experienced a Special Day myself and I know how important fundraising is to ensure more Special Days continue for people like myself. I understand the benefits of a Special Day and I can never thank Willow enough for the amazing day that I received and the impact which I know will last a lifetime.