Fundraising started as atonement.
It was an apology for the person I had become in my late teens and early twenties, and an offering of sorts to the people I wanted to stay in my life: this is who I would like to be now. Then, in early 2015, someone close to me died. She was 21, I was 23, and I lost my mind.
Our minds are full of creatures, disturbed by demons.
Our creatures – eloquence, impulsivity, passion, ambition – can be delightful or troublesome, depending on our patience to train, tame and involve them. Think of them as wild horses. To listen and nurture their nature is to direct their drives, smoothing over the sharp bits we might not want. It’s how we might think of our never-ending quest to understand ourselves better, be kind to ourselves, and, by doing so, become better people. Our demons complicate this process. They live alongside the creatures: smaller, weaker, but greater in numbers, and, always, terribly hungry. They feed on troubled creatures that have lost their way. Once gobbled up, voids are created in the creature’s place until that creature (because they can never fully die) finds their way back. Pride in our friends, when replaced with that blackest of holes, becomes jealousy. Love becomes hate. Our demons provoke our creatures, causing more to lose their way and the size of their meal to grow. My life simply became a triptych after this first experience of death: ‘growing up’, the opportunity to remember a friend, and the hope for my future became mistakes, deep loss, and doubt towards my future. I didn’t want to have a future anymore.
Books started as a distraction from the noise.
Fiction told me stories that were similar to, but parallel and not within, my own. I laughed with characters who struggled with their daily problems, cried with those who lost loved ones, and learned, by example, how to like myself and the life I could live for the first in a long time. In late 2018, I joined the book industry because I believed, and always will, in the remedial power of books.
Each month, I set a fundraising challenge inspired by a book that matters.
It is not someone else’s job to make my life or the world around it better; it is my own. Books bring vital causes to attention, or they simply change the track we’ve been looping for so long that we forgot there may have been other songs to hear. They matter, and can change our lives or those around us. I will choose one book published each month as an inspiration for a relevant fundraising challenge. Each is listed below with their donation links. With each story, I offer my understanding and connection to the book, the challenge, and my approach to preparation in the hope it might be of some use in your own lives.
I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
January: ONCE UPON A RIVER written by Diane Setterfield and published by Doubleday | story / donate to Tommy’s
February: THE FIVE written by Hallie Rubenhold and published by Doubleday | story / donate to Refuge
Please prioritise your kind charity donations! After this, if you like what I do and have anything spare, you can also send a little money via PayPal to help me cover some of the personal costs of fundraising. I will only ever spend this humble pot of pennies on things like entry fees, travel and hostels – I use my feet and travel card where I can, and will always contact companies who may help with costs first. I avoid asking the charities I support. The pounds and pennies start to add up – and the book industry isn’t paying big bucks! If there are other ways you would like to support, you can also reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you.