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Children pull off biggest-ever fundraiser for Forget Me Not

When our fundraising team had the idea of challenging local children to raise money for the hospice, they were unprepared for the scale of their response.

“I said in the office that it would be great if we could raise just £80,” recalls Lynsey Marshall. “We could never have imagined they would actually raise over £80,000 – and that’s before we add in the Gift Aid, which will amount to a further £10,000 at least. This is the most successful campaign we’ve ever run by far! It just shows you how children respond to the idea of other children who are in need.

Our message is a massive ‘thank you’ to the thousands of inspirational children who walked around the world to help us, and who’ve raised awareness among families who need us but may not have known about us.”

The idea was to ask local schoolchildren to do a sponsored ‘Around the World Challenge’ by walking either a mile (primary schools) or two miles (secondary schools) and seeing how their miles added up compared to the circumference of the Earth, which is 24,901 miles. Could they, collectively, walk around the world? In the event, over 25,000 children, in 80 schools, youth groups and uniformed brigades across West Yorkshire threw themselves into the challenge and spanned the Earth with ease.

“Initially, the key to the whole thing was the Pennine Sports Partnership, who provide PE lessons for local schools,” explains Lynsey. “I talked to them about the idea and they were instantly on board. They took the idea into their partnering schools, who then loved it – schools are always looking for more exciting ways to engage children, rather than yet another ‘dress-down’ day, and the walk also encouraged healthy exercise. PSP suggested doing the challenge during children’s PE lessons, so it didn’t disrupt the school day.”

According to Daniel Hermann, partnership manager at Pennine Sports Partnership: “Our whole team is absolutely thrilled to be supporting Forget Me Not. The help they provide to children with life-shortening conditions, and their families, is incredible. We were delighted to promote the campaign and inspire our school partners to get involved.”

Word of the walk quickly spread to other schools and groups, including junior sports groups, uniformed groups and faith organisations, who also joined in. Young people of every age and ability signed up to the challenge, from nursery schools to colleges and even special schools. “We made sure we went out and spoke to every school and group that wanted to be involved – we did over 100 school assemblies. It became clear that the children felt very moved by what we do at the hospice: one 13-year-old lad came up to me after an assembly and donated the 50p he’d brought in to buy sweets with. Another boy went to Wembley with his family to see Huddersfield Town play, and he added five laps of the pitch to his own Around the World Challenge, raising £300 all by himself.”

Castle Hill School, a special educational needs school in Huddersfield, made a whole day of the challenge and created a real party atmosphere. “They had a chain of wheelchairs all doing the challenge, led by the music therapists,” says Lynsey. “It was an amazing thing to see!”

Buoyed by the success of the Around the World Challenge, Forget Me Not will run the event again next year during Children’s Hospice Week, 21-27 May 2018. Local schools are already signing up and booking Forget Me Not to go in and speak at assemblies.

A short video about the challenge can be seen at here