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All for the cause

Working for a charity is more than just a job – for the people on the front line it’s an all-consuming passion. Be Happy speaks to two people about their work in the charity sector

 

Sally-Anne Hunter
Founder and Director of Commando Spirit
As a passionate and effective fundraiser, Sally-Anne has helped raise more than £15 million for charity and was most recently a founder member of the successful Booby Birds, that saw 20 women raise £440K for Scottish breast cancer charities by skydiving, and Event Director of the Caledonian Challenge – a 54-mile walk across the West Highland Way annually raising over £1 million.
Sally-Anne’s latest and most ambitious fundraising endeavour is as the Founder and Director of Commando Spirit, and last year she recruited 20 courageous participants to ‘Escape the Dunker’ the terrifying underwater escape training all Royal Marines have to undertake in order to gain their green beret. No one bottled it and more than £120,000 was raised for the Commando Spirit Appeal. This year, Commando Spirit is challenging a small band of brave participants to Take The Leap; an eye-watering fast rope abseil from iconic London landmarks this September.
‘When I was in my early twenties, and as a recently trained barrister, I was selected to go on Operation Raleigh, an overseas expedition for young people, taking part in scientific, adventurous and community projects in Peninsula Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah.
To secure my place I went through a selection process, including a weekend of command tasks and bivouacking (my only tactic was to keep positive and keep smiling and to keep awake at all times!) and had to raise £2,500, which was a significant sum of money back then.
‘After I returned from the expedition, which in itself was an unforgettable life-changing adventure, I started practising as a barrister specialising in entertainment and charity law and continued to work each August at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as Event Director of Fringe Sunday, something I had started as a student. The Bar Council and Law Society announced they were going to raise £1 million for the homeless and because of my experience with Raleigh and with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, they enlisted my help. One of the things Operation Raleigh instils in you is the notion of the ‘Fourth Challenge’, giving something back to your community, and with this in mind I put together a team and organised The Legal Challenge – a weekend of command tasks and sleeping rough under the stars for 45 teams of lawyers, which raised £45,000 for CRISIS, the homeless charity.
‘The event was a turning point and I found it so fulfilling that I decided to leave law to focus on my passion for event directing and especially for delivering challenge events that raise money for charity. During my fundraising career I have been fortunate enough to work with fantastic charities such as CRISIS (The Legal Challenge), Breakthrough
Breast Cancer (The Breakthrough Women’s Challenge and The Booby Birds) SCOPE (The Banking Challenge) and Operation Raleigh (The Power Challenge), and I now run Lifetime Challenge events working with clients such as the Woodland Trust and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. I get a real kick out of creating events that give people once-in-a-lifetime experiences that raise life-changing sums for charity.’
For more information on the Commando Spirit Appeal, the Commando Spirit Series or Take the Leap, including how to get involved, please visit www.commandospirit.com

Graham Buckingham
Founder of Bite-Back
‘Two years ago I dared to turn my back on a successful PR career in the motor industry. Instead of being passionate about people’s mode of transport I had become more concerned about people’s choice of fish. However, this epiphany wasn’t as random as it sounds. Eight years earlier, I had learned to scuba dive.
‘Of course when you learn to dive, the last thing you want to see underwater is a shark. Yet by the time I had logged 50 dives I couldn’t wait to see one. When I saw my first shark I felt a glow of peace, calm and admiration. It’s a feeling I have enjoyed with every shark encounter since. Sadly, though, underwater shark sightings have become increasingly rare but, perhaps, hardly surprising when you realise that 125 countries currently trade in shark fins for the controversial dish, shark fin soup.
‘In fact, the single biggest threat facing sharks and the oceans right now is overfishing. The problem is so out of control that scientists predict that 20 species of shark will be extinct by 2017 and that the world will run out of commercial fish by 2048. Of course, the problem only persists because we’re choosing to eat the same familiar fish quicker than they can reproduce.
‘Alarmed by this news I decided something needed to be done to reverse the slide to extinction. It’s become the biggest PR challenge of my life. In 2004 I launched an online charity to educate and inspire UK restaurants and retailers to put conservation before commerce and stop selling key species known to be most at threat from over-fishing.
‘Since then, Bite-Back’s online campaigns have encouraged five major supermarket chains to halt the sale of some of these key species. It has even prompted Holland & Barratt to stop selling shark cartilage capsules in 550 stores and it has inspired numerous Chinese restaurants to remove shark fin soup from menus across the country. Over time Bite-Back’s campaign victories have won thousands of new supporters and even captured the imagination of high-profile celebrities including Gordon Ramsay, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Bear Grylls.
‘But one thing that I really like about Bite-Back’s approach is that there’s no barrier to participation. Supporters only need access to a computer and an appreciation that that fish are the only truly wild item you can find in a supermarket, fishmonger or restaurant. By uniting like-minded people and delivering a clear and concise message, Bite-Back is changing the way that Britain goes shopping for fish.
‘Considering the urgency of the issues, the more people who take part in the online campaigns the faster change can happen. The web site asks visitors to do three things: 1) Send the campaign emails; 2) invite restaurants to stop selling shark fin soup; 3) tell Bite-Back if you see any shark items for sale in the UK. As you might expect, raising money for shark and marine conservation can be pretty tough, so Bite-Back is unapologetic about asking for donations too.
‘Supporters who do any, or all, of these things can be confident they are contributing to Bite-Back’s success. In fact they could regard it as marine conservation without getting wet!’
For more information about the Bite-Back campaign and to donate visit www.bite-back.com To buy tickets for the fundraising event Bite-Back@Cancer go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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