Friday, 6 December 2013

People do things for people – remembering Cheryl Stakol

It is a well-known fundraising saying that people give money to people.  No matter how worthy your cause, if people don’t have confidence in you people are not inspired or motivated by you it won’t work.

One thing I learned in my years at Breast Cancer Campaign is that this works both ways – we are inspired and motivated by our supporters. We build close relationships with them, we work together and laugh and even cry together but sometimes despite their courage and determination and the best medical care, we lose them and this is so hard and while we are grieving for their families whose loss is the greatest, we are grieving for ourselves as well.

Even though it is over two years since I left – this is still the case: never more so than today when I learned of the death of Cheryl Stakol. In 1997 Cheryl was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery and ten months of treatment she decided to organise a sponsored walk to raise funds for breast cancer research, with Breast Cancer Campaign as the beneficiary charity.  

The walk has now become an established annual event and in 2000 was named The Generations Walk.  Cheryl’s reason was that everyone is invited to participate, irrespective of age and fitness, plus the money raised and put towards research today will help to benefit future generations. Needless to say, Cheryl’s entire family was involved in the organization and management of the walk, not to mention her many friends and the local community. There were regulars who came every year as well as new walkers. In June 1998 some 80 people took part in the first walk. The 10th Anniversary walk was celebrated in 2008 and is still going strong with over 300 participants taking part in 2013.  To date an incredible £400,000 has been raised for Breast Cancer Campaign’s research.

Cheryl’s support came to the charity at a very critical time in our development.  We were still quite small and we all learned together.  Her energy and determination was an inspiration to us (with much perspiration along the way). She was creative and professional and always delivered what she promised and made sure that everyone else did too - a true leader. 

I was in touch with my former colleagues today and I know that I speak for them when I say that our hearts go out to Michael and her children and grandchildren and we mourn her too.

Sometimes the mundane can be the most poignant – as I finished preparing dinner this evening I grabbed a note pad to make a note of groceries that needed replacing and realized that the pad was one that Cheryl had given me at my leaving party – Cheryl you somehow always knew what was needed. You will be missed.

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