The mornings are getting lighter and the days are getting longer, which can only mean one thing: we're getting closer to one of the most iconic running events in the UK, The Virgin Money London Marathon.
Each year, we're overwhelmed by the number of people who want to join Men United and run for us in this epic event. All those who join our team pledge to raise £2,000 - no mean feat for even the most enthusiastic fundraiser. With that in mind we caught up with one of our runners who is already well on the way to smashing his total. Billy Adamson, 41, from Suffolk, pictured below with his running partner Suzy, shares his top fundraising tips and secrets in our interview below.
1. Hi Billy, thanks for agreeing to share your secrets with us. First of all, why did you decide to run The London Marathon as part of Men United?
I lost my dad to prostate cancer back in September 1994. Following the diagnosis, he was incredible. I loved his positivity and his openness about the disease. When choosing a charity, my decision came easily. I've always wanted to give something back and wanted to support the excellent work carried out by Prostate Cancer UK.
2. How did you feel when you found out you had to raise £2,000? Do you think it’s achievable?
I am in a privileged position, as the Head of Mathematics in a large comprehensive school. I was never daunted by the money I needed to raise. I knew that if the school council would allow Prostate Cancer UK to be amongst the charities we raise money for, I would have raised at least half of the required sum. We have 1,500 main school students on roll, and allowing a non-uniform day in honour of a charity brings in £1,500 without any additional funds from cake sales/activities.
3. How did you start fundraising? What’s the first thing you did?
As soon as I applied for my place I started thinking about how I could raise additional funds. The first idea was born whilst out running with my good mate Gary. He kindly offered to not only lead a quiz night, but also supply the questions.
4. Who did you ask for sponsorship and how did you ask them?
I wrote to local businesses asking for anything they could provide for a Christmas raffle. I secured prizes from: a local business, the local theatre, Bury Bowl, Cineworld and Tesco. I also tried our local football club, Ipswich Town FC, who kindly provided two free tickets.
5. What fundraising events or activities have you held?
I wanted to act quickly to ease the pressure and raise a good proportion of the funds before the countdown to April 26 began, and I knew that if people had kindly donated money this would spur me on through my training.
One idea was to get students to raise money and sponsor a staff member of their choice to grow their facial hair. The tutor group who raised the most money would be permitted to choose the design of the moustache for their victim!
I also decided to host a quiz night. Both activities kept people buzzing and over 100 people attended the quiz night. I used my powers as a teacher to use the school sports hall to host the quiz, saving on costs. I also used Tesco’s sale or return policy to buy enough alcohol to lubricate the masses and this worked really well, knowing I would not lose money if everything was not sold. Both events surpassed my expectations. One tutor group alone raised £212 which contributed to my total of £679 and the quiz night raised an impressive £630.
6. What advice would you give someone else looking to raise money?
Advice? Make it fun and make it accessible to all. If possible, make it unique.
7. What do you hope your money will do?
My wish? Clearly I share the vision that all men facing prostate cancer and prostate disease get the best possible information, the best possible care and the best possible help in dealing with the effects of diagnosis and treatment. However, wouldn't it be amazing to be actively raising money as a reliable blood test is discovered?
8. What else have you got planned to ensure you reach your target?
The school council have agreed for our next non-uniform campaign to be Prostate Cancer UK. I've also planned a series of activities including each of the five school houses racing the 105.5 laps of the running track to represent the distance I'll be running. I fully expect to have my head in some stocks during the week and will encourage other staff to do the same! My plan is to advertise which staff will be available on each day for students to pay to splat their 'favourite' teachers. With this, cake sales and a non-uniform day, I hope to pull in an additional £1,600.
9. And finally, why is it #NotJustAVest for you?
It's always been more than a vest, it's my way of honouring my Dad and others who have fallen in the same manner and also my way of supporting to help raise awareness of this excellent cause.
If you'd like to support Billy's fundraising, you can donate to his online fundraising page.