The Covid-19 pandemic may have put a stop to many things, but Yorkshire Cancer Research’s Leeds Volunteer Group continued to fundraise for the duration of the nation’s lockdowns and raised a fantastic £15,000.
Hilary Tammer, who has been a volunteer for 50 years and is now co-chair of the group alongside Irene Collins, said: “We were so thrilled that people continued to support us. We were quite astounded at the response we got.”
Fundraising efforts included a ‘non-coffee morning’ in which treats such as tea bags and coffee, and even a poem written by Hilary herself, were delivered to people’s homes so they could enjoy a coffee morning from their own sofas and then make a donation to the charity if they wished. The volunteers used their daily walk during lockdown to post the coffee morning packages through as many doors as they could.
Hilary said: “Anybody who was able to deliver a parcel did, and it was good because it gave us all a bit of exercise and a purpose.
“The result was remarkable. We were amazed by the popularity of the idea, which eventually raised £4,000.”
The volunteers also got creative in their fundraising, turning their hand to knitting toys in exchange for a donation, as well as making face masks.
The group has community at its heart, and all the volunteers are driven by their friendship. But the pandemic meant that their usual in-person meetings and fundraising events had to be put on hold.
Volunteer Barbara Cline said:
“The best thing about being part of the group is the camaraderie between us all. It doesn’t matter what we think or say or do, we’re all friends, we’re all here for the same reasons and long may it reign.”
And the volunteers found new ways to be together and support the community while continuing to raise funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research, with video call software Zoom becoming the way they met.
Hilary said: “It was a great thing to keep us all going.”
Video calls also came in useful as they arranged for guest speakers to give talks over Zoom and encourage donations. The group secured notable speakers such as presenter Gabby Logan and House of Lords member, Lord Grade. These online events proved remarkably popular within the community, raising more than £6,000.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:
“The money that the volunteers have raised during the lockdowns has been phenomenal. As we begin to tackle the devastating impact of the pandemic on people with cancer, it is more important than ever that we continue to raise vital funds to help prevent, diagnose and treat cancer in Yorkshire.
"We are so grateful for the efforts of all those who have continued to support the charity during such a difficult time.”
Six members of the Leeds Volunteer Group also got involved in the recent ‘Tour de Walkshire’ campaign, a fundraising event run throughout May by Yorkshire Cancer Research in partnership with Welcome to Yorkshire.
They have even managed to recruit a new member, after a friend joined them on one of their walks and decided to get involved on a regular basis.
The Leeds Volunteer Group was first formed in 1958 and have since raised over £1 million for Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Hilary said: “The last 16 months have been hard, and it’s taken its toll on people. It has been a reminder of how important it is for volunteers to keep fundraising, even during the pandemic.”
Long-standing member Rosalind Peters added: