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willow news The magazine for supporters of Willow

I can iscial dwoVictkh i’s Spe Ho her Day set her on journey

Our inspiration

How Anna led us to 10,000 Special Days

Just One Word

Marking our 10,000th Special Day

The Willow Effect

So much more than just one day


Help us to make


moment count…

Willow is the only UK charity supporting seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds by providing Special Days.

During uncertain times, each unique Special Day is a positive focus away from treatment or marks recovery from illness. The planning, anticipation and excitement of the day boosts confidence, provides inspiration to make every moment count and creates lasting memories. This year, Willow will provide its 10,000th Special Day for young adults living with life threatening conditions including cancer, motor neurone disease, cystic fibrosis

and Huntington’s disease. This is a significant milestone for the charity but we know that there are thousands more young adults diagnosed with serious illness every year and we are determined to raise the funds required to support them through our Special Days. Donate today at, or get in touch to see how your support can make someone else’s day special.

Our Story Willow was founded in 1999 by former Arsenal goalkeeper and TV presenter, Bob Wilson and his wife, Megs, as a lasting memorial to their daughter, Anna, who died of cancer aged 31. Anna battled her cancer for five years but it was during these years that she, her family and friends, experienced some of their most memorable moments together. Her self named ‘Special Days’ became a focus for quality of time and quality of life, providing a welcome distraction from the challenging realities of living with a serious and life-threatening illness and restoring some normality back into all their lives. Willow has aimed to replicate the benefits of Anna’s ‘Special Days’ by providing similar positive, motivating and uplifting experiences for other seriously ill young adults. Anna, whose love of life was the inspiration for Special Days.

Thank you. Willow would like to thank all of our supporters and volunteers for their generous commitment of both time and money, without which we would not be able to continue to provide Special Days to those who need them most.

Trustees Richard King (Chair) Dean Barrett Stewart Bennett Farine Clark Maurice Gammell Philip Lodge Oliver Peterken Gina Tress Andrew Unwin

Life Presidents Bob and Megs Wilson Executive Team David White, Chief Executive ( Richard Kotulecki, Director of Services ( Simon Carruth, Head of Finance, Commercial & Facilities ( Jenny Beckman, Head of Marketing ( Gill Woods, Head of Events (

The Willow Effect: A Special Day is something to be shared with friends and family meaning that the positive effects touch the lives of more than just one person.

Editor: Katherine Di-Fonzo ( Design by Printed by Printwize.

Development Board Tony Gibbon (Chair) Nick Collins Jeff Dishner Mike Hussey Robert Kidby Ashley Muldoon Savvas Savouri Graham Stanley Neil Thompson


Letter from our Chair The inspiration for Willow came about because of one special woman’s determination to live every moment to the full despite the most difficult of circumstances. Anna’s strength and positivity was the seed from which the Willow family has grown and this year we will provide our 10,000th Special Day for a seriously ill young adult. Not only that but we will have also touched the lives of thousands more, helping families, friends and loved ones to make every moment count. For every individual we support we know that there are many thousands more that we don’t reach. Willow’s mission is to be able to provide a Special Day for every seriously ill young adult in the UK. Whilst hospitals and the healthcare profession concentrate on diagnosis and treatment, we as a charity have the opportunity to focus solely on the compassionate care and well-being of people through our Special Days (see page 10). Planning is well underway to grow and improve our service over the next few years and it has been led with huge energy and enthusiasm by our Chief Executive, Jeff Kaye. It is with much regret that we said goodbye to Jeff in August, who has left to pursue charitable commitments outside of Willow. We wish him all the best for the future and thank him for the time and commitment he has given to growing and expanding our Special Days service. We are delighted to announce that David White has taken over the role of Chief Executive. David has a wealth of experience as a charity CEO – which includes three years at Keech Hospice Care. I and everyone at Willow, wish him a very warm welcome. The next few months will see the introduction of some exciting new activities including the new Willow Alumni Association to consolidate the Willow ‘family’ for the future, bringing together former beneficiaries of the charity and their friends and family. Also going live this year will be a brand new Willow website which will raise our online profile, helping us to spread the word of our work far and wide and ultimately achieving the support we need to provide many more Special Days. Along with our Just One Word photographic exhibition marking our first 10,000 Special Days (see p4), the Willow Wonder Ball on 16 November will provide us with the opportunity to reflect on this tremendous achievement.

Contents News round up

Anna’s story


I can do this


strength positivity

care inspiration


Making every moment count


Hope for better times


Community focus

My inspiration


13 A single message

Spreading the word

8 9

More than just one day

15 16

Get involved

In good company


On behalf of everyone who has had a Special Day, and those yet to, thank you for your continued support. Richard King Chair, Willow Board of Trustees

Staying strong

17 LeeStock


Growing the Willow Effect

A lasting effect

21 22


News round up 10,000 Special Days: Just One Word

Willow Alumni The moment Willow accepts an application from an individual, they start on a very personal journey with us that culminates on their Special Day. The relationships we build with people on that journey are very special to both the individual and to the staff who arrange their day. The Alumni Association is being established with the aim of sustaining longer term relationships between Willow and our Special Day beneficiaries. Please keep checking our website and newsletters for updates on how to be a part of the Willow Alumni Association.

As Willow fulfils its 10,000th Special Day, we felt it important to mark this milestone in a unique and appropriate way. It was to this end that Willow and some of our wonderfully inspirational beneficiaries, joined forces with leading photographers in the UK to create a powerful portrait exhibition highlighting the positive impact of Special Days. To begin this project, we approached our beneficiaries and asked them to sum up the impact of their day in just one word. With suggestions ranging from ‘empowering’ and ‘liberating’, through to ‘challenging’ and ‘energising’, each of our photographers were then tasked with bringing these words to life within a single portrait. With each of our ten beneficiaries paired with their photographer, the individual photo shoots began.

10,000 Special Days: Just One Word

Beano Each photographer took incredible care in creating a photographic concept that would accurately portray the on going impact and resonance that their subject’s day has had on their lives. The result is a thought provoking exhibition that challenges our views on living with serious illness and highlights how a life threatening diagnosis has inspired individuals to seek new experiences, set new goals and live for the moment. The photography is being showcased at a three day London exhibition, 13-15 October. For more information please email justoneword@willowfoundation.

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In August this year, the talented artists at The Beano marked 75 years of laughter by creating an exclusive, special edition canvas auctioned online in aid of Willow. Designed and painted by numerous Beano artists past and present and featuring characters from over the years, the canvas was extremely well received and raised £3,200 for Special Days.


Matt Lucas set to host this year’s Willow Wonder Ball

This November, Willow will hold its annual gala ball at the exclusive Grosvenor House Hotel in London. With Matt Lucas confirmed as host, The Voice contestant Jaz Ellington headlining with soulful classics and an extra infusion of comedy from the very talented Kev Orkian, this year’s Wonder Ball is set to be the best one yet. Visit for more information and to book your ticket.

The digital age

Holidays are Coming

This is an extremely exciting time for Willow. Our brand new website will be live from early 2014 meaning we will be able to accept online applications, making applying for a Special Day even easier. We will also be launching our new regular giving programme – on-going donations will ensure that we can support many more seriously ill young adults through the provision of our Special Days. Email us for

For the fifth year running, this year’s Willow Carol Concert will be held at the beautiful St. Albans Cathedral on 3 December. We’d be delighted if you’d join the Willow team and Life Presidents Bob and Megs Wilson for this festive evening of carols. Contact us for tickets on 01707 259 777 or email

And to get you into the holiday spirit beforehand, why not order your 2013 Willow Christmas cards? Email or call 01707 259 777 to place your

further information at community@

order and spread a little festive cheer whilst supporting Special Days.

Win £1,000


This year we have launched our biggest ever national raffle to mark our 10,000th Special Day. We have a fantastic top prize of £1,000, plus two brilliant runners up prizes: £500 Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel vouchers and a John Lewis Pampering experience worth £250 (courtesy of Red Letter Days).

Christm as App Now tha eal t the tem perature to keep


If you would like to enter, or sell tickets on our behalf, please call us on 01707 259 777. The raffle will be drawn on 16 November.

o R





yo is Willow’s u warm inside – dropping we wa nt to giv wonderfu at e l 2013 C the beginning of Nove you something hristma mber, lo s appea With po ok out fo l! we r experien rful stories abo u cing illn ess, you t the impact of and lasti our Spe ’ll ng mem cial Day ories to be able to help s fo u others h oping to s give confiden r those ce have a S pecial D , inspiration ay of th eir own.











To find out how you can help make a positive difference to the lives of seriously ill young adults, show your support and get involved in your local community, call us on 01707 259 777, email or visit the website for advice and a free fundraising pack.

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Anna’s story

Our inspirat – Anna’s

“Little did we know then just how much our daughter would teach us in the 31 years that she lived. When she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 26 she was able to draw on her experience as a Community Nursing Sister in North East Hertfordshire. She saw just what trauma could do to her patients and their families when serious illness arrived. So when it happened to her and was told that she had a malignant tumour, she took her family to one side and lectured us all. This thing would try and destroy not only her, but it would try to destroy us. We should not let it. Instead she made sure that she always had something in her diary to look forward to – something planned; something that would take her out of the new normality that had become doctors’ surgeries, hospital appointments and treatment. We would plan shopping trips, concerts, football matches and parties, things that would make her happy – and if she was smiling, we were smiling.

taking part in something pleasurable can create memories that last a lifetime. 6 willow news Support us today, text WFDN12 £10 to 70070

The very last month of Anna’s life was the catalyst for Willow. The BBC approached me to say they wanted to do Bob’s This is Your Life. It was at a difficult time as Anna was very poorly, the cancer having spread through her body. I turned them down but was finally persuaded by Anna that it should go ahead. On 1 November Bob was caught on the Arsenal training ground where he was coaching David Seaman. As Michael Aspel presented the book Bob turned around and told them he couldn’t do it as his daughter was too ill. At that moment his phone rang and it was Anna, “Dad, I’m ready to party!” she said. We had the most amazing day and night. Anna was able to enjoy every moment and be proud

Anna’s story


story of the tribute her Dad was being given. For ten days Anna was on a high and adrenalin was coursing round her body disguising the symptoms that normally made her feel so ill. Sadly one month after the programme Anna died and she instructed me to use what she learnt. Now when we think of Anna, we think of her smiling. Of course we remember the roller coaster ride that living with cancer brings, but our memories are of a young woman who had all to live for; a loving husband, a close family and a successful career. She taught us that quality of life and quality of time is paramount and that often the planning and taking part in something pleasurable can create memories that last a lifetime.

Anna’s philosophy is the basis upon which Willow’s Special Day experiences were founded.

Anna’s philosophy is the basis upon which Willow’s Special Day experiences were founded. We have had hundreds of letters confirming that Special Days make a difference and give a person much needed quality time with friends and family; something very important during treatment. Those aged 16 to 40 who are supposed to be forging ahead with their lives, are in as much need as any other age group. Before Willow was launched, nothing specifically for young adults existed and without Anna and her wisdom, there would be no Willow. Willow is now 14 years old and in that time it has grown from a local charity to one which covers the whole of the UK. A Special Day impacts many more people than just the beneficiary

themselves. This Autumn we will be marking the 10,000th Special Day which in reality means that over 40,000 people have experienced the effect that such a day can bring. When serious illness invades, normality flies out of the window and in its place sits a life of appointments, hospitals and treatments. The advances of science mean that medication can bring relief and often cure, but frequently have both

a physical and emotional cost. A Special Day brings only positive experiences not only to those who are ill, but to family and friends who share the days. Laughter and smiles go a long way to repairing so much of what is damaged by serious illness.” Megs Wilson, Willow Life President Read more about Anna’s story in Bob Wilson: Behind the Network - My Autobiography, published by Coronet Books, Hodder & Stoughton

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I can do this Vicki was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, aged 39. A mother of three with a successful career, Vicki’s diagnosis turned her world upside down. Vicki tells her story… “The person I am now is a world apart from who I was on 24 September 2012. Back then I had a very successful job, I was wealthy, had a good social life and I was the life and soul of any party, with confidence to rival Simon Cowell. I was invincible, or so I thought. I lived in a beautiful 300 year old house and had a small but perfectly formed family unit until that one fateful Thursday when I found ‘that lump’. The one that everybody tells you will be nothing – except it was something. It was 4cm of undeniable terror. From that day onwards life for me and my family was never the same again. Physically I’ve changed, but that is manageable. Emotionally is the biggest challenge. For my daughter to see a parent in bed constantly and

not really understanding if I would be okay was so upsetting. Every ache and pain you think ‘is this it – has it come back?’ and ‘is this my time’? The fear is unexplainable to those untouched by cancer. After being cut, poisoned and burnt I was at my all-time low realising the emotional battle was just about to start. On top of this I no longer worked and we were forced to downsize our beautiful family home. It was then that I found out about Willow. For my Special Day I chose a family break away; this would be our main holiday due to financial constraints and we were all so excited! We counted down the days on the calendar and it gave us a focus other than treatment.

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On the morning of the trip there were smiles all around. We arrived – I cried! Everybody was relaxed, my husband was smiling, the kids had forgotten all about the cancer. The feeling was immense – I was Vicki again, nobody here would know I was ill. Over the next couple of days, we spent time on the beach, played football, decorated cup cakes, walked, ate and most importantly we laughed. I even managed to do the zip wires – I told myself if I could beat cancer, I could do this. This is becoming my mantra. This is a part of my healing process and came from my Special Day, all in all it was fantastic, it made me feel alive again.”

Heading Stories

Staying strong Marco, 24, was diagnosed with Lymphoma just after finishing his degree. He chose to spend his Special Day at Reading Festival, taking the time to enjoy a break away from the realities of his illness and spending quality time with his best friend. “My diagnosis couldn’t have happened at a worse time for me. It was a couple of weeks after my graduation and I had to go through one of the most important days of my life not knowing whether the tests would come back positive or negative, making it really hard for me to enjoy life at a time when I should have been celebrating my success. I first heard about Willow following a consultation with my oncologist who had just gone through my upcoming treatment plan. All I wanted at that time was to forget about my cancer. The idea that I was eligible to have a Special Day gave me something to focus on and was a great distraction throughout my treatment and everything I was going through. It kept my hopes up. I knew that however bad my experience was during my chemo and radiotherapy I had my Special Day coming up and it was going to be the complete

opposite. This helped to keep me mentally strong and determined to not let my cancer get me down. For my Special Day all I really wanted was to experience the best day possible and I wanted to spend it with my best friend. I ended up choosing to go to the Reading music festival for the weekend. This was something I had always wanted to go to and needless to say, I enjoyed every second of it! I have great memories of my day. In fact, some of the best memories I have are from that weekend – it ended up being a massive part of what I can only describe as the greatest summer of my life!

My own experience of the disease has made me want to know as much as possible about it and how I can make a difference. I want to change the experience of cancer, even if it was just for one person.“

Willow’s Special Days are so much more than just a day and their importance and impact cannot be overestimated. Each one is unique as Willow tailors every Special Day to meet the needs of the individual. For more information about how to apply visit or call 01707 259 777.

Since recovering I have gone on to do a Masters degree in Cancer Biology as I’m now determined to make a difference in cancer research.

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Special Days

More than just one day…. “Hello, how are you doing? How are things going?” We enquire about each other’s wellbeing all the time. So what are we asking about? What do we mean by wellbeing? People studying the subject explain wellbeing as ‘how we feel about and experience our lives’; a measure of both our positive mental health and feeling about our lives. Somebody who feels positive about their life and their place in the world, both day to day and generally, has a high level of wellbeing. But is wellbeing just another way of saying happiness? Happiness is how people feel moment to moment. Wellbeing is something more than that it includes happiness but also other things such as how

satisfied people are with their lives as a whole, whether people feel they have a sense of control over their own lives and a sense of purpose in life. Your football team scoring might make you feel happy for a little while, but even winning the match might not give you a feeling of wellbeing. The government has recently published proposals for wellbeing to become a key part of the care given to patients within the NHS. This is being driven by the belief that those in poor health should have the same opportunity for wellbeing as those in good health. The importance of wellbeing for those in poor health was emphasised by the lack of it during the recent NHS scandals. This is where we feel Willow can truly support people living with serious conditions in a way not provided for within our NHS service.

What our medical professionals say...

“It is really helpful to have “It was quite overwhelming something to distract from the rigours of treatment. to see the impact a The day helped both my Willow experience could patient and their family have on a beautiful family who were also suffering who have been heavily during this time of impacted by cancer. uncertainty and further Positive, joyful memories treatment and it created given to a family who special memories for the deserve them.” Sarah, Staff Nurse children for the future.” Debbie, Gynae-Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist

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The Special Days we arrange aim to help people regain a sense of confidence and motivation to improve their wellbeing, even at a time of severe difficulty. We know from feedback, and from independent research, that a Special Day provides an immediate boost to those factors that result in wellbeing. Special Days increase confidence, hope, a sense of control, a sense of purpose – all the things that add up to wellbeing. The NHS has a huge amount of expertise in treating illness; Willow has a huge amount of expertise in improving wellbeing. Special Days are so much more than just a day and their importance and impact on wellbeing cannot be overestimated. By Richard Kotulecki, Director of Services

Special Days

Making every

moment count Here at Willow we understand the need for people living with serious conditions to be able to plan for something positive.

Our dedicated team of co-ordinators strive to not only arrange a unique Special Day but also to provide a very personal experience right from the moment of application. One of our Special Day Co-ordinators, Kate, tells us in her own words what this journey means to her:

“As a Special Day Co-ordinator I experience so many emotions from the people I speak to; from frustration with their illness, to tears and laughter at their application being accepted.

In my role as a Co-ordinator I know I cannot cure anyone of their illness. However the response I receive when making that initial call to a beneficiary is overwhelming.

I contact people every day, from all walks of life – with different backgrounds, different conditions – who all have very individual and personal ideas for their Special Day. Each one I plan and co-ordinate is completely unique to that person and their loved ones. From the moment I make the call to confirm their application has been approved I form a bond with them. Everybody has their own reasons for choosing their day. This can be an experience that’s completely personal to them; a day out to thank their partner for their support or simply time to spend being ‘normal’, with friends or family. The simplest of days, like going to the zoo, can mean so much to someone whose life is governed by treatment and hospital appointments.

I really feel I am making a difference to their lives by giving them something to look forward to and something positive to focus on. It is amazing to receive feedback from a person regarding their Special Day; to hear and understand the impact that day has had on their life. My job at Willow offers me such a sense of pride in what I do, knowing we really are making a difference.”

16 73






57 10

233 162 157

2 18




5 31 36 154 134


The map above reflects the number and spread of recent applications from across the UK.

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Hope for

better times

Every Willow Special Day beneficiary is living with the difficult realities of a life-changing illness. The majority of our beneficiaries (around 85% in 2012) have received a cancer diagnosis, including breast cancer, lymphoma, leukaemia, testicular cancer and cancer of the brain. This is Jan’s story…

“It was in December 2006 when my life was changed forever. My consultant gave me the most dreadful and frightening news that I had Osteosarcoma, an aggressive cancer in my jaw bone. I can still recall the absolute terror I felt as I sat in the room; it felt like the walls were suddenly closing in around me and immediately I thought that I was going to die. Within a fairly short period of time my tumour had grown. I was in excruciating pain; I couldn’t eat, sleep and found it more and more difficult to summon up the emotional and physical strength each time I had to return for more treatment. Finally, after six months, my life saving surgery took place. The tumour was removed and bone grafts were taken from my leg to reconstruct my jaw along with a titanium plate. I was finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with all the emotional and physical changes the cancer had imposed upon me, with visible scars, hair loss, and a mouth which didn’t function in the same way. I couldn’t even look in a mirror; I had changed so much over the past year.

apprehensive but also excited at the prospect of a tiny glimpse of happiness. I chose a trip to London to watch ‘The Sound of Music’ and asked if it would be possible to meet the star of the show Connie Fisher, (pictured with Jan below). I can still remember the sheer delight and buzz I felt when I received the call from Willow to tell me I was having my Special Day. Up until this point I couldn’t see any future or way forward. My confidence and self esteem were completely shattered, but this was it; the turning point in my recovery. Then my Special Day arrived. We enjoyed afternoon tea at the Dorchester Hotel, followed by a fantastic performance which bought me to tears. More emotion was to follow when I went backstage to meet Connie, who was absolutely lovely. My Special Day had been a complete whirlwind of emotions. At that moment the worries, pain, uncertainty of life and frequent terrifying experiences I had faced over the past year felt like a lifetime ago. I felt normal again, purposeful and empowered.

It was during this time I decided to apply for a Special Day. I was

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The day itself was more than I could have ever imagined. I don’t think anyone will ever comprehend just how much of an impact this day had on my emotional health, wellbeing and, in the longer term, my physical recovery. It helped me to see that there was some optimism, positivity and hope for better times and life itself.”


Shane was living with organ failure and, after two failed transplants and constant dialysis, life was a battle. Shane wanted to create a lasting memory for him and his son should the worst happen. He tells us how he stayed motivated through his final transplant.


inspiration “I was unwell from a very young age and was finally diagnosed with kidney failure when I was just eight years old. I had surgery shortly after that and it was considered to be a success. It wasn’t until I failed a medical for the RAF, when I left school, that it was discovered the renal failure had returned and I was now in the end stages of the disease and required dialysis. My health continued to deteriorate and, after a bout of food poisoning, my kidneys were finally damaged beyond repair. I started dialysis in 1996 and had my first transplant in 2003 which failed immediately. I went back onto dialysis and tried to get on with my life. I got married and we had a son. I then had my second transplant in 2010 which, again, was unsuccessful and resulted in me spending six months in hospital. Life continued with regular dialysis as before. Unless you have experienced it it’s difficult to explain quite how tough it is to live like this.

It was during my dialysis treatment at hospital that my renal social worker recommended I apply for a Willow Special Day. She gave me the application form and I began to think about what I could do. I finally decided that I would love to have some professionally shot photos of my son and I as a lasting memory for him should the worst happen. Willow arranged for us to have a photo shoot together – it was great fun and so difficult to choose the ones to keep as there were so many brilliant photos taken.

my Special Day by my bedside. Keeping the photo beside me was all the motivation I needed to get out of intensive care and to recover for my son. As my previous transplants were so horrific I wanted something I could treasure forever and that could be handed to my son as a lasting memory should, the worst happen. Some people thought I was mad for thinking like that and others thought I was mad for having another transplant, but my son was my inspiration and he was there with me in the photo throughout it all.

After my day my doctors made the decision that after two failed transplants and chronically low blood pressure, my last chance of a transplant would be from a living donor. My brother was tested to see if he could donate and we were so lucky that he was a match. In 2012 I finally had a successful transplant.

The transplant transformed my life. I no longer require dialysis, something I’d lived with for so many years. And it was the first time in 20 years that I had any energy. My health hasn’t been without problems since the transplant with another major operation and hospital stay but, once again, my photo was with me the whole time, and will stay with me and my son forever.”

When I went into hospital for my transplant I kept the photo from

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Community Focus Community fundraising is special because we get to meet so many different types of people and businesses; from sports groups and golf clubs to churches and rotary clubs, they all help us to fund Special Days. Out and about The community team have been hard at work over the summer attending fairs, talks and of course Folk by the Oak, an annual concert where 50p from each ticket is donated to Willow. Our Take Time for Tea campaign also continues to progress well, but we still need some help reaching our target for this year, so if you would like to hold a tea party for us with your friends and family, request your party pack today.

Fashionable giving A local business in St Albans, The Dressing Room, has decided to support Willow for the year through a number of events and initiatives. They recently held their own Take Time for Tea and made the party even more exciting by holding a competition. They also held a raffle which raised over £300 in just a single day. The Dressing Room decided to support us because they wanted to help a local charity that made a real difference to people’s lives. They told us, “We heard of Willow through various events over the years, more recently the Carol Concert at the Cathedral, where I heard Hannah’s moving speech about her mother’s journey with cancer and her Willow Special Day. When we were contacted about holding a tea party we thought it was the perfect opportunity to show our support and we are especially excited about the launch of Willow Wardrobe which we have been asked to co-host”.

Willow Wardrobe was created in 2011 by Sarah Wilson, a stylist by profession and daughter-in-law of Willow Life Presidents Bob and Megs Wilson. Sarah collected vintage and pre-loved classic items from family, friends, colleagues, some generous retail stores, Willow patrons and ambassadors and opened a Pop Up shop near her home in South London. We really hope that we can encourage as many of our supporters as possible to hold their own Willow Wardrobe event. It is an exciting way to raise funds, de-clutter and find that amazing piece, at a snip of its original price. Your event doesn’t have to be as big as Sarah’s. You can hold your own Willow Wardrobe at work, one evening in the comfort of your own home or if you are more ambitious how about the local community hall? We have launched a dedicated Willow Wardrobe website willowwardrobe. full of ideas, advice and some useful do’s and don’ts. We can publicise any Willow Wardrobe events encouraging donations or for people to come along. We can also send you a Willow Wardrobe pack to get you started.

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A single message that led to a

triple challenge…

Whether it’s a five mile jog in Hyde Park or a 26-mile marathon, there are plenty of opportunities to take on a challenge and raise vital funds for Special Days. We hear from so many amazing challenge fundraisers every day undertaking an epic range of sporting events. Team Tony Walshe explain what motivated them to take on their own challenge: “On waking on the morning of 11 July 2012, I checked my phone for any new messages that had come through during the night. I was expecting some work related news - but was not prepared for the most profoundly brave and emotional text I have ever received. Nor am I, or the four other friends who woke in similar fashion to read the message that morning, ever likely to receive one of its kind again. Our friend Tony Walshe had battled with a particularly rare and aggressive form of cancer called synovial sarcoma for nearly a year and, feeling that

his life was coming to an end, wanted to pass on several messages to us whilst he had the chance to do so. I won’t divulge the exact contents of the text; that will remain private. Suffice to say that the recurring theme of Tony’s last thoughts were of love for his family and happiness at the times he had spent with them. Tony passed away the following morning, just 40 years of age and having led a previously fit and healthy life. At Tony’s funeral, we discovered from his family that before moving to West Bridgford he held a deep passion for hill walking. It seemed appropriate that to remember Tony for his bravery in illness and camaraderie with us in life, we should embark on a challenge in keeping with his interests.

12 July. We eventually decided on Willow. For Tony, his Special Day provided positive memories that were of comfort to him in his final weeks and that his family will cherish forever. We are proud to sponsor this charity and in so doing remember our great friend, Tony.” Team Tony Walshe have so far raised over £8,000 with donations coming in daily. If you have been moved by their story and would like to make a donation please visit their JustGiving page teamtonywalshe3peaks.

Feeling inspired? Visit our challenge events page on the website or call us for a chat about how you can get involved.

We decided to undertake the Three Peaks Challenge in July of this year, on the anniversary of his passing,

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Spreading the word The support of our volunteers is invaluable with every single pound raised and every person they speak to making a true difference for Special Days. Pat (pictured left) is part of our amazingly dedicated team of volunteers at Willow. She regularly supports our fundraising activities and has been a volunteer with us since 2007. We asked Pat about what moves her to Just some of our Team Willow volunteers: (L-R) Joanne Freckleton, Jill Edgeley, Cornelia Freckleton, volunteer for us. Pat Fairbrass, Maureen Cox, Tony Culpin Why do you volunteer for Willow? I discovered Willow by chance when entering a challenge event and decided to give up some time in my newly acquired retirement. I soon saw what wonderful work is done in offering quality of life to those facing dreadful life challenges. I myself am blessed with extremely good health and I have three healthy children. As a mother I felt devastated by Anna’s death at such a young age and couldn’t imagine what Bob and Megs must have gone through. My children at the time were of a similar age to Anna and I tried to think what it would have been like to lose one of them. Unthinkable. I became totally committed.

What do you enjoy about speaking on behalf of Willow? Mainly letting other people know that Willow exists and raising the charity’s profile. People are generous. There are so many big charities which people support because they are household names. I want to let people know that Willow exists and that we deserve their support. Also – rather selfishly – I miss my teaching career and I really enjoy standing in front of a group and delivering what is essentially a lesson! I get a buzz from delivering information and getting feedback from the group in front of

me. And people are really interested if they haven’t heard of Willow before so give their full attention.

Do you ever get nervous? It depends on the group. Church groups and WIs never; they are always sweet and unchallenging. Rotary clubs can be a bit daunting. I’ve never been made to feel anything except very welcome, but possible reasons could be that they are mainly men, mainly high flying professionals and we probably want them to nominate us as their charity for the coming year.

What are your top tips? 1 Try not to read a script. I always take mine in case I freeze, but only glance at it. 2 Look round the room/hall and make eye contact with individuals. 3 Balance stories with sad endings and stories with happy endings. 4 Speak from the heart and don’t be afraid to show emotion. 5 Be personal – don’t be afraid to talk about yourself and the work you do as a volunteer.

What has been your favourite moment? I haven’t got one particular moment, but my favourite times are after my talk, when people approach me to talk individually. They then often tell me about their own lives and how my words have touched them.

What do people seem to enjoy most? Without doubt it is hearing stories of individual beneficiaries. That goes for everyone from a class of 12 year olds at your local school to an elderly church group. It grips their attention and they hang on every word waiting to hear the ending – happy or sad.

How do you vary your talks? It is the same basic talk. I update it beforehand by checking facts and figures. For example, the current number of Special Days, current fundraising events, current challenge events. And I read the latest newsletter to see if there is a new story I might want to include. But I have my favourite stories that I always talk about. Mainly it is the questions afterwards which makes one talk different from another.

Contact us today if you’d like to know more about volunteering for Willow

16 willow news Support us today, text WFDN12 £10 to 70070


Speaker Network: Launching Autumn 2013 We can only provide our service to those people who know about us and we are working hard to increase awareness so that we can create many more Special Days for people across the UK. We are therefore excited to announce that we will be launching a brand new speaker initiative which will aim to raise both awareness for those who may need to use our service and to help raise funds for future Special Days.

We are proposing to offer training sessions for those interested in speaking on behalf of the charity. Sessions will be offered according to demand, and will be arranged over the course of the next six months. The training will cover standard topics to include in a talk, how to overcome nerves, and other hints and tips on how to deliver a fantastic presentation/talk/cheque collection speech.

By training up a network of speakers, we can be proactive in our approach to local groups and associations, to offer them a speaker and make ourselves known to potential supporters and service users. Email fundraising@ to register your interest, and more information will follow.

Get involved... Every year Willow organises a number of exciting, high profile fundraising events from sporting events to its star studded annual ball. Whether you buy a ticket or volunteer your time, you are helping to raise valuable funds and playing an important role in raising awareness of the charity throughout the country.

Carol Concert 3 December 2013 Join Bob and Megs Wilson at the charity’s annual Carol Concert at historic St. Albans Cathedral. Celebrate with an evening of festive entertainment, including carols and readings from patrons, ambassadors and beneficiaries. Willow Wonder Ball 16 November 2013 Willow’s flagship event – the night brings together the charity’s loyal supporters, patrons, ambassadors and celebrity friends for an evening of inspirational stories, glitzy entertainment and fabulous food. With Matt Lucas confirmed as host, other acts include Britain’s Got Talent comedy star Kev Orkian and Will-i-am’s protege in The Voice 2012, Jaz Ellington, with England Rugby star Martin Bayfield hosting the live auction. It promises to be a Wonder-ful, not to be missed event.

London Football Legends: Dinner & Awards 6 March 2014 Celebrate the very best of London premier league football with an evening of great entertainment and the opportunity to ‘meet and eat’ with some of the legendary players from Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, QPR, Crystal Palace and Fulham. There will be lots of fun activities on the night including a Q&A with the legends, hosted by ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson OBE, plus the Awards themselves. A fantastic networking event; early booking is strongly recommended for what is guaranteed to be a sell-out. Clay Pigeon Shoot Day 9 May 2014 Willow’s annual Shoot Day will take place at the prestigious Royal Berkshire Shooting School. Teams of four will enjoy a day’s clay shooting, followed by a champagne reception

and delicious rural lunch. This event is perfect for networking, team building and hospitality, or simply to enjoy the ultimate ‘boys’ away day’ in the company of friends or family. Celebrity Golf Day 19 May 2014 Willow’s longest running event takes place in the historic setting of Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire. Golfing teams will be joined by a host of famous faces and enjoy 18 holes of golf, followed by a drinks reception and late afternoon lunch. This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a fun day’s golf in the company of well known sporting and entertainment legends. To buy tickets, to find out about sponsorship opportunities or to volunteer your time, please contact the Events Team on 01707 259 777 or email events@willowfoundation.

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In good Company A lot of companies help us raise funds for Special Days, often involving their staff and customers in support of Willow. They do so in a wide variety of ways, from challenges that take place throughout the year or through one off events, such as golf days and dinners. Involving staff and customers is a great way to get lots of individuals working together raising small amounts to contribute to a larger total.

Employers increasingly want to get their staff involved with their local communities but only about 10% of Willow’s income comes from companies. So if Willow is to meet the needs of more seriously ill young adults we have to expand our network of supporters to increase the amount of income we generate this way.

Why we like supporting Willow

Often companies support Willow because a member of staff puts us forward to be considered for Charity of the Year. This might be because they or their family have personally been helped by Willow, or because they know someone who has been seriously ill. Companies like local business Kilker Projects, who are organising a golf day in memory of a staff member who had a Special Day in 2009 and hope to raise £5,000 for Willow.

The thing I like about Willow is that as a small charity you can see where your money is going. Special Days are incredibly inspiring and I think that staff can relate to that. A lot of companies have employees who are under 40 and many of them may have unfortunately been personally affected by serious illness. So supporting Willow is something that gives us great pleasure and I urge other companies to do the same.

Or Willow volunteer Kathy Fish, who approached Royal Mail Sports and Social Club through a friend who worked there. They chose Willow as their 2012 Charity of the Year and undertook a fantastic range of activities including bucket collections, renting out their sports and social club mini buses, selling their car parking spaces, quiz nights, sweepstakes and getting the local pub they drink in to take a collection tin. They raised more than £10,000 for Special Days.

Companies tell us they like supporting Willow because:

Ashley Muldoon, Brookfield Multiplex



When we came up with the idea of cycling from our offices in Leatherhead to Paris, we thought a £10,000 fundraising target was high, but the event brought together staff and suppliers in a way we could never have imagined and with their support we more than doubled our target. Connect Plus

Willow is very local to our office and we found out what they do through one of our clients when we attended an event as a guest. It’s hard not to be moved by the stories of Special Days and the impact that they have had on young adults and their families. We are a small company and like the fact that Willow’s staff are all so passionate. We are keen to help Willow in any way we can, from attending golf days to supporting them directly.

We believe in the power of experiences and the positive affect they can have on all of us. That’s why we work with Willow. Bill Alexander, CEO, Red Letter Days

The Willow London Legends stands out as one of the most enjoyable and liveliest corporate sporting events we have attended in recent years. Willow’s sporting heritage and contacts provide a great backdrop to support seriously ill young adults. Knowing we were helping support Special Days made the event all the more worthwhile. Nick Collins, Nabarro

Willow needs you! Do you know anyone who would ask their company to support Willow in one of the following ways? l

Choose us as your Charity of the Year


Hold a Willow day of fundraising activities


Fundraise for Willow at a conference, dinner, golf day or other annual event


Organise a staff challenge, such as a bike ride or hike


Hold a quiz, dress down day, Take Time for Tea party or other staff fundraising event.


Make a percentage donation to Willow when selling a product or service.

Every pound raised through activities like these means we can support many more seriously ill young adults and help raise awareness of our service. For more ideas or if you would like help to approach any company you know please contact fundraising@ or call 01707 259 777.

Jody Kennedy, Construction Safe Ltd



LeeStock Lee had his Special Day in 2010, where he and his bandmates went into a recording studio for the day. Sadly Lee passed away and so his friends decided to do something in his memory.

Edd is Lee’s best friend and while chatting with his brothers at a family BBQ they invited their cousins who are in the band The Bimmys, to come and play in their hometown. This idea snowballed into two or three acts and after some help with the venue, the first ever LeeStock music evening was born, with all profits raised coming to Willow. Edd says, “We soon became overwhelmed with the sale of tickets and were amazed by the final outcome of the day with the turnout and total raised, which was far beyond anything we could have dreamed of. We had loads of people come up to us saying we have to do it again as it was such a good way for the memory of Lee to carry on.” Taking this idea to heart and being inspired by all of the positive comments from friends, family and those who attended the event, Edd and his brothers decided to carry on with LeeStock and put the show on again the following year. They also decided to boost their fundraising efforts and take LeeStock to the next level. It was now so much more than a music festival.


“The fundraising hasn’t stopped at the music festival; we have LeeStock Football (attended by ex-pros) LeeStock Cricket, LeeStock race nights, Come Dine With Lee dinner parties and someone even got a tattoo! Everyone in our hometown has got involved in the many events and challenges we put on and without their support we wouldn’t have been able to grow LeeStock.

so many great unsigned bands and our headliners this year, Space, Toploader, John Power of Cast and the ever present Mark Morriss of the Bluetones.

This year the annual music festival was moved to its largest and hopefully permanent home of Melford Hall. We were now faced with making our event into a festival in a field, and with that brought a whole host of new challenges. With masses of help we felt we pulled off a great weekend, helped along as ever by

Everyone at Willow has been truly moved and inspired by the tribute Lee’s friends have made to his memory via LeeStock – it’s a legacy that we know will keep going from strength to strength. Please visit to see the line up from this year’s event.

We wouldn’t be able to continue to put LeeStock on without all the support we get from local businesses and of course, everyone who attends each year. Thank you!”




A Willow Special Days Tribute Fund is a lovely way to pay a lasting tribute to someone you love whilst helping to support and raise awareness for us at the same time. We know that dealing with the loss of a loved one is a very personal matter and everyone finds their own way to cope. Often people find it a comfort to do something positive and lasting in celebration. That’s what Willow Special Day Tributes are all about. Recently we have updated our approach to our Tribute funds and have now made them much more visual by taking them online. Along with our partners ‘Much Loved’, we have created a mini site which allows you to remember your loved one in a simple and positive way.

and a lasting tribute. The best way to see how your memorial site might look is simply to visit willowfoundation.muchloved. org and then follow the ‘Create a Tribute’ tab - this is very easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes. We understand setting up a fund is a very personal decision and you may need some time to consider it but it’s a wonderful way to keep memories fresh and by supporting the work of Willow in tribute to your loved one, you will be helping to raise vital funds for future Special Days for seriously ill young adults.

You can personalise the design, add memories, photos, music and video, as well as invite friends and family to visit and contribute. You can share past memories and also events which you may be organising at special times such as anniversaries, birthdays etc. At all times you retain total control over privacy and postings, plus your site is hosted online in perpetuity so that you can keep it as both a loving

Support us today,

willow news 21


Growing the Willow Effect Since Willow’s founding in 1999, the charity has grown into an established national organisation that has directly touched the lives of thousands of seriously ill young adults. This year we will see the fulfilment of our 10,000th Special Day, but in reality every Special Day reaches much further than just one individual. Like a ripple effect, by brightening the life of someone at the most difficult of times, a Willow Special Day in turn positively influences the lives of those around them. The wife who has held her husband’s hand through months of treatment will see the smile on his face; the father who drives his son to hospital appointments time and time again will see him shaking hands with his idol, a million miles away from the reality of illness; and the friends who miss the care-free times will have the quality time to just be friends again.


This ‘Willow Effect’, however, is not limited to those closest to the beneficiary. The people involved in making a Special Day happen, be it local businesses, volunteers, celebrities, or our co-ordinators, are all touched by the impact of a Willow Special Day and inspired by our incredible beneficiaries and the stories they tell. It’s astounding the impact a day can have.

The Willow Effect

When presented with numbers, I often ask ‘is that a big number or a small number?’. I want to be very clear that 10,000 Special Days is a very big number and represents a vast impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people. Of course, it’s only the beginning. As the need for Willow Special Days grows ever greater, we will endeavour to provide the opportunity for a Special Day wherever it is needed. David White, CEO

Make a difference There are many ways you can support Willow. Whether you have time to give, wish to make a donation, take on a challenge or even hold a tea party, there really is something to suit everyone. If you are short on time or can’t afford a financial gift, simply liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter and sharing content will help spread the word and make such a difference for Special Days. Your support may be modest, but it is needed and hugely appreciated.

Do •

Challenge yourself by signing up for one of Willow’s exciting signature or challenge events.

Feeling inspired? Create and organise your own fundraiser; we’ll support you every step of the way.

Time is so valuable. Volunteer in the office, at events or in your community.

Ask •

Help Willow to source auction lots and raffle prizes.

Introduce us to companies who could sponsor Special Days or Willow events and campaigns.

How you can support us: Give •

Give a single gift or make a regular, monthly donation.

Sign up to payroll giving.

Create a tribute fund in memory of a loved one or opt to leave a gift to Willow in your Will.

Gifts in kind – services, goods or time are always appreciated.

Share •

Tell your employer about Willow and nominate us as your company’s Charity of the Year.

Promote Willow events to your family, friends and colleagues.

Like, follow and share Willow’s posts on Facebook and Twitter.

Every pound you raise, gift you give or post you share will help us make a positive difference to not just the lives of more than 1,000 seriously ill young adults, this year, but their loved ones as well.

Thank you


What a difference a donation makes...

Without your support we wouldn’t be able to help seriously ill young adults at one of the most difficult times of their lives. Please donate to Willow today so that our Special Days can continue to make a difference for those who need them most:


could fund a Willow medical professional’s pack, helping to ensure their patient’s application is accepted.



could buy a canvas print for a family as a lasting memory of their day.

could cover entry to a London attraction, giving someone the chance to forget about the difficult realities of treatment and illness.


I would like to make a donation of £10 £15 £25 £50 £100 Other £ (please enclose a cheque or complete credit card details below) I would like to commit to a regular donation of £ per month/quarter/year (delete as appropriate). We will send you a form to complete. I would like to find out more about leaving a gift to Willow in my Will. Title


could help fund a special dinner for a couple coping with the stress of serious illness, giving them time together to be a couple again.


could fund the vital work of a Special Day Co-ordinator for one day, helping to provide up to 60 seriously ill young adults with their own Special Day.

Please choose one of the payment methods below: 1. Cheque or CAF cheque Please enclose a cheque or CAF cheque (made payable to ‘Willow Foundation’). Please call 01707 259 777 to donate over the telephone or visit 2. Card payment Name on card

(card must be registered at the address given opposite)

First Name

Card (delete as appropriate): VISA / MASTERCARD


Card No

Company Address

Start Date:

Post code

Expiry date: (last three digits on signature strip or four figures on front of Amex. Code will be destroyed when transaction complete).

Security code: Daytime telephone

Gift Aid declaration

Email By providing your email and/or telephone details you are agreeing for Willow Foundation to contact you in the future with updates on our work and activities. You can change this at any time by contacting us at the address below. Your details will be held on our database in accordance with the Data Protection Act(1988). We would like to continue to keep you informed about our progress and activities. By providing us with your details you are agreeing to receive these updates from us. If you do not wish to receive this information, please tick this box:

I wish the Willow Foundation to treat all donations in the last 4 years, this gift and all future donations that I make, as Gift Aid donations. I confirm that I have paid or will pay an amount of Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax for each tax year that is at least equal to the amount of tax that all the charities and CASCs that I donate to will reclaim on my gifts for that tax year. I understand that other taxes such as VAT and Council Tax do not qualify and that the charity will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that I give.

Signature Date

TEXT WFDN12 plus your donation 0 amount to 7007 0 £1 2 N1 FD W eg


Freepost return address: Freepost RLYY-XLHH-LJHU, Willow Foundation, Willow House, 18 Salisbury Square, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 5BE

T. 01707 259 777

F. 01707 259 289



The Willow Foundation is a charity registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales, number 1106746

Willow news Autumn 2013