A POPULAR annual event has recently reached a £50,000 milestone in fund-raising for Macmillan Cancer Support – at a time when the charity needs it more than ever.
The Meriden Tree of Thought, complete with over 1,500 lights, is erected on Meriden village green every Christmas as a backdrop to fund-raising events attended by hundreds of people.
Local resident Alan Lole founded the initiative in 2005 to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Hospice Solihull, as a way of giving back for the care his mother received from both charities.
Since then, the event has gone from strength to strength and last year alone raised nearly £4,400, of which around £2,300 was donated to Macmillan.
Alan, 76, said: “In June of 2002, I suffered a massive stroke which left me disabled and changed my life dramatically. After a life in the world of commerce, I felt that I wanted to do something purposeful which was within my, now limited, capabilities.
“My motivation became even greater when I lost my mother, Olwyn, to bowel cancer.
“I witnessed, at that time, the wonderful work done by Macmillan Cancer Support and The Marie Curie Hospice Solihull and I became aware of the huge number of people who need their help. They truly make a dreadful time as bearable as is possible.”
Although the Meriden Tree of Thought usually takes place from mid-November, Alan has organised a number of other local events throughout the year, including the Meriden Midsummer Draw.
But because the draw cannot take place this year due to Coronavirus guidelines, he created a JustGiving appeal which has so far raised £2,880 – taking the grand total to over £67,400 for both Marie Curie Hospice Solihull and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Alan said: “The tree has become a major part of me, having dedicated well over 5,000 hours of my time to the cause over the years. It has to be the most fulfilling thing I have done in my life and – if I’m allowed to be – the thing of which I am most proud.”
Sarah Diston, Area Fundraising Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It is no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic is going to have a significant impact on the charity sector. Macmillan alone are expected to lose almost £100million in voluntary income.
“Macmillan relies almost entirely on public donations to provide this vital support to people with cancer which is why we are so grateful to incredibly dedicated and generous volunteers, like Alan, who continue to go above and beyond to help us support people living with cancer.”
Macmillan’s Coffee Mornings are still set to go ahead this year. Visit https://coffee.macmillan.org.uk for more information.