Many of our supporters and the members of the local community will be all too aware of the financial pressures we faced in 2012. It was widely reported in the local press that in August 2012, unless we were able to raise £50,000 in only a short period, it was likely that Catching Lives would close.
Well, I am writing this 16 months later and we are still here and happy to say that we are not hanging on by a shoestring either! We cannot thank the local community and supporters enough; we now sit in a more comfortable position, able to look forward to and plan for the future with a little more confidence. We have adequate funds to continue operating for at least another 12 months, and in the current economic environment that is as much as many small charities can say.
So what did 2013 look like?
In April 2013, our very own Community Winter Shelter Co-ordinator, Jon Limebury threw down the fundraising gauntlet and jumped on his bike to tackle a gruelling five-week ride from Canterbury to Africa. 3000 miles each way! Jon’s hard work paid off and an incredible sum of £2722.41 was raised.
After spending 5 weeks in the saddle, it was time to let our hair down at the Old Wine Vaults gig, organised by Kevin Clarke, raising £405.59.
The fundraising landslide had begun…. A few weeks later, the Parish of St Martin and St Paul, Canterbury held a 24-hour singing marathon. Led by Choir Director, Dom del Nevo, the choir and friends sung every verse of every single one of their 628 hymns, raising a further £1,923.56.
May also brought fantastic contributions from the wonderful students at Canterbury College through their gigs, raising £ 691.33
July not only brought some sunshine, but Matt Thomas’ completion of the physically demanding Virgin Active Triathlon. The course comprised of a 1500m swim in Victoria Dock, 40 kilometre bike ride along the Thames and concluded with a 10 kilometre run around the Excel Arena. Not bad for a day’s exercise! Matt was rewarded for all his efforts by raising £1,300.13.
Not to be out done by some of our (younger) volunteers I decided to take part in the UK Chilli Festival’s annual chilli eating competition in September. I may not have run 10 kilometres around the Excel Arena, but successfully made it through five rounds, eating some of the worlds hottest chillis, in turn raising £1373.59.
September continued to heat up, with Browns Coffee House hosting a caffeine-fuelled extravaganza raising £260.63. Later on that month, the Rotary Club of Canterbury Sunrise Trust staged a sleep-out in the grounds of the Cathedral to raise awareness and funds for both Catching Lives and Porchlight. There were 53 participants, many of whom were local CEOs, business and community leaders including the Mayor, Heather Taylor, the Lady Mayoress, Linda Taylor and the Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott. An unbelievable sum was raised, with £17,000 being donated to Catching Lives alone.
As the leaves started to fall, our dedicated volunteer Project Worker Audrey Banks dusted off her running shoes and completed yet another half marathon for Catching Lives. Her dedication raised £418.04. A keen team of walkers were also doing up their laces, as they undertook the Age UK walk, raising an incredible £1432.35.
September and October saw local musicians unite in force to help Catching Lives. Eight local bands generously agreed to donate their time to perform at two music gigs at The Ballroom in Orange Street, co-ordinated by Sally Appleby, one of our most dedicated volunteers. September’s ‘Late Summer Festival’ gig saw the fantastic Coco and The Butterfields headlining, joined by a brilliant line up of Gentlemen of Few, Skies, Green Diesel and The Allen Family Band. The October ‘Blues Night’ delivered a great night of delta blues, jazz and rock & roll with Kingsize Jones, Spade & Archer and Claire & Paul. Special thanks to Tom for ‘pulling it out of the bag for us’ and to Toyah and Simon at The Ballroom for hosting the events, which raised £1,375.00.
Continuing with the entertainment theme, the Tuesdays, a community singing group based in Tenterden (led by Catching Lives’ volunteer, Julia Bennett) staged a West End Masquerade; a sell-out musical extravaganza that brought in £2,500 to help our vital services.
As the year drew to a close, the Christmas period brought festive cheer and generosity from many, with special thanks to The King’s School, Smarden and Hoath Women’s Institutes, Kings Mile Association, Canterbury Cathedral and the people of Chilham and Sheldwich.
And just before Xmas we received an unsolicited contribution from Canterbury City Council, who gave us £10,000 to help us continue the work that we do. We would like to thank John Gilbey and all at the council for this and the support that, in particular, Helen Moore and the Housing Options team have given us this year.
As you can see we wouldn’t be here without the incredible generosity of so many. We would like to say thank you to all our daily volunteers, without whom we would not be able to open the doors to our clients. And last, but not least, Sally Appleby, who has supported and made many of these events happen. Thank you.
The list goes on; I’m bound to have forgotten some’ and if I have I apologise. I hope you have received the individual thank you’s that we try to send to everyone. We will be summing up the local church involvement with Catching Lives in our CCS report in March’ where we have more of an opportunity to thank them and their congregations for the great work that they do for us.
One final remark. We wouldn’t be here today without the support of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and Steve Hamilton of Connectel Infrastructure Services. A huge personal thank you to both.
Terry Gore, Service Manager.