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Supporters climbs Mount Kilimanjaro for the RUH

In 2006 my Dad passed away after an eight week battle with cancer, it was three days after my 15th birthday, and this year I turn 25. Ten years on I am ready to commemorate him in the most fitting way possible, walking up a huge mountain.

I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in the hope of raising lots of money for two causes. ‘Get kids going,’ a charity which enables disabled children to get involved with sport and outdoor pursuits, and The Forever Friends Appeal’s RUH Cancer Care Campaign, which is helping build an amazing new cancer centre that will replace the ward where my father received his treatment. The state of the art building will provide patients and families across the south west with a holistic, healing environment dedicated to making such a difficult time more manageable.

Get Kids Going offers young disabled people the chance to become more involved in sport. My dad, Nigel was a supporter of the charity himself. He was a P.E teacher at Clarendon School in Trowbridge for 27 years and was well known for his passion for getting children to be active. He led local children on Ten Torrs expeditions and many school trips such as skiing and kayaking.

Dad was diagnosed with renal cancer in June 2006. It was a huge shock that such a fierce illness was found in such a fit man. I was just 15 years-old and believed that he was invincible. My dad was the bravest man I’ve ever known and I’m trying to do something that would make him proud.

Cancer has affected so many people, some of my best friends, their families, friends of friends…. As well as remembering my dad, I will be taking time to remember everyone who we have lost to such a devastating illness.

I would like to thank Aston Rose Surveyors, Wessex Drain Services Ltd, Archers Marquees and Kushi Clothing store for their funding and support.

If anyone else would like to donate, please visit www.facebook.com/katesmithclimbingkilimanjaro or www.gofundme.com/29fktsf6

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Mud, sweat and tears for Sodbury Slog supporting RUH patients

The Forever Friends Appeal, the primary fundraising charity for the Royal United Hospitals, is delighted to be chosen as an official charity for the sold-out Sodbury Slog. Mud, mud and more mud is forecast for the 9 country-mile race in Chipping Sodbury on Remembrance Sunday 13th November, and if you’re up for the trainer-ruining challenge, the Appeal has a number of special charity places still available (public entry has completely sold out).

Sue Brigden, a well-known Bath runner and long-term supporter of the Cancer Care Campaign, is no stranger to the RUH and will be taking on this race to support the Cardiology Unit after a recent encounter. Here’s her story.

“Back in 2000 both my husband Ray and I came into contact with an amazing lady called Vanessa ‘Ness’ Kyte. Ness had just recovered from breast cancer and reconstruction surgery and wanted to learn how to run a 5k race as a Thank You for all of the help she had been given by the RUH.

As running coaches, Ray and I gave her advice and she trained with us for many weeks until race day was reached and Ness’s fundraising was off the ground. Sadly, after so much more fundraising and astonishing feats resulting in over £100,000 being raised for the Forever Friends Appeal, Ness lost her life to this cruel disease. During this time we became friends with Ness and her family, including her sister Nic who is still so very much involved with carrying on her late sister’s legacy.

Then in 2008 whilst preparing for the Walk of Life, the Appeal’s fundraising walk set up with and in memory of Ness, my husband Ray was diagnosed with bowel cancer. This came as a total shock as he was/is so fit and healthy, never smoked, ran everywhere and was a vegetarian!

Not to be deterred we set about dealing with this in the only way we know how… staying positive in both body and mind. That year I walked with even more determination to show my support to Ness, Ray and all the others suffering with this never ending disease.

Fortunately for me, Ray has recovered and despite now having Parkinson’s, he is as fit and healthy as ever. Again it was the dedication of the RUH staff who were there trying to fix us.

On 20th May this year my beloved eldest sister died very tragically and totally unexpectedly. Although nothing to do with her death, Cheryl had also come through breast cancer resulting in having a mastectomy & 6 months of treatment…again so wonderfully well looked after by the RUH. She was well into her remission when she lost her life to an aneurysm, this time despite having immediate attention at the scene, she died without ever reaching hospital.

Then if that wasn’t enough, just three days later, my sister’s partner of some 42 years collapsed from a heart attack which lead to her having 3 stents and a defibrillator fitted. Having collapsed in Frome she was airlifted to the RUH where for three long days they battled to save her…….They won! Firstly in ITU then CCU and finally the Cardiac Ward, Lynn was able to leave hospital on 14th June, the day of Cheryl’s funeral.

As you can imagine, life will never be quite the same, but we really can’t thank everyone at the RUH enough for everything they have done for us, our family and our friends over the years. I do the Sodbury Slog virtually every year although this year due to everything that ghastly happened, I haven’t done as much training as normal. I will certainly find it a ‘slog’ but at least I have the chance, which is a chance more than many have.”

Presented by Bitton Road Runners, the Sodbury Slog is quite simply not for the faint-hearted! Forget roads (they’re for wimps) this is a lung-busting, trainer-ruining, hill-climbing, multi-terrain challenge held over and through some of South Gloucestershire’s most stunning countryside. Attracting around 1300 runners annually the route uses the same paths, fields, ditches and mudbaths since it’s original inception in 1990. The race always coincides with Remembrance Sunday and is preceded by exhortation, a two minute silence and playing of the Last Post, which sets the scene for a memorable day. The race is then started at 11:05.

With so many of their members lives touched by the RUH, the race organisers are pleased to be supporting The Forever Friends Appeal. Race Director, Steve Herring said:

“Based in Oldland Common, Bitton Road Runners attracts runners of all abilities from east Bristol and the Keynsham/Saltford catchment areas. Every club member knows of and many have personal experience of the high level of care offered by the staff of RUH. So when the opportunity arose to extend our Sodbury Slog charity place allocation, the RUH Forever Friends Appeal was the obvious and a popular choice, especially as we recently held a post club run curry evening raising funds for Forever Friends.  As a club we look forward to working with Forever Friends this year and in future years.”

Although public entries for the Sodbury Slog have now completely sold out, The Forever Friends Appeal still has a number of charity places available! If you would like to join the incredible Sue and the rest of the team, places cost £30 (of which £20 will be donated directly to the charity) and you can choose to raise funds for a ward or department that is close to your heart, or the RUH Cancer Care Campaign. Please note: online charity entries have now closed, but you can still enter offline by emailing racedir@sodburyslog.co.uk for details. Please title your email ‘Forever Friends Slog offline entry’. Offline entries will close at midnight on 6th November. If you already have a place in the race but would still like to run for RUH patients when they need it most – the Appeal would love to hear from you!

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All of a Fizz at The Helen Straker Autumn Charity Ball

The Helen Straker Charity held their first Autumn Charity Ball on Saturday 15th October at the  Assembly Rooms in Bath.  The proceeds from the Ball will be donated equally between two charities, The Forever Friends Appeal and Dorothy House Hospice Care. Both were the favourite charities of Helen Straker, late wife of Gordon Straker, who was an active fundraiser throughout her life and her 13 year battle with cancer.

Over 220 guests attended the Ball from local companies such as Wadworth & Co, Qdos Homes, MJ Church, Royds Withy King, Bath Rugby, Strakers Estate Agents and many others.  The evening started with a champagne reception in the stunning Octagon Room of the Assembly Rooms followed by a three course dinner, an exciting auction and dancing to a Bath-based band called The Swingers.

The auction was the highlight of the evening and was hosted by Andrew Fleming, a Trustee of the Helen Straker Charity.  The auction lots were incredibly generous and featured a weekend charter for ten people on a luxury yacht in Mallorca, a two night stay in Copenhagen, a helicopter flight and stay at Calcot Manor Hotel and a lavish lunch on a 1920’s Belmond British Pullman train. Other lots that got everyone bidding were golf days, rugby and football tickets, a shooting party for six and a cricket bat signed by the 2015 England test team who played in the Ashes against Australia.

Helen Straker was a determined fundraiser for both ourselves for the new Cancer Centre to be built at Bath RUH and Dorothy House. After Helen lost her brave fight against cancer in 2013, her husband Gordon Straker continued her impressive fundraising efforts and The Helen Straker Charity was officially registered in 2014.

The charity now organise a variety of fundraising events each year including golf days, clay pigeon shoots, dinners and comedy nights and the total funds raised now stands at £186,000 since 2014.

Gordon Straker, Trustee of the Helen Straker Charity said of Saturday’s Ball: “It was a wonderful evening of great food, great music and delightful company. Helen would wholeheartedly approve of our ongoing efforts to raise money for her chosen charities to help others in the future and we are very proud to do so. Thank you to all the sponsors who supported the Ball and to everyone who helped make it such an exceptional evening, particularly the charity’s board of Trustees.”

Jan Witt, In Memory & Legacy Officer, The Forever Friends Appeal said: “What a glittering night was had by all at Saturday’s Ball, once again the Trustees pulled out all the stops to make the evening a magnificent and memorable occasion.  The Forever Friends Appeal is truly grateful to everyone who gives their time and support to make each of their fundraising events a huge success, year after year. Helen was a keen supporter of the Appeal and we are absolutely honoured that Gordon, his family, friends and the Trustees have continued with Helen’s fundraising legacy and supported us over many years.”

Phillippa Watson, Head of Fundraising at Dorothy House Hospice Care said: “The Charity Ball at the Assembly Rooms was a terrific success and a real tribute to all the hard work and fundraising efforts of Gordon Straker and the charity Trustees. Dorothy House cared for Helen during her illness since 2002 and we are honoured to be one of the chosen charities of the Helen Straker Charity, especially during our 40th birthday year.”


The proceeds of the Ball will be announced in December along with all the funds raised in 2016 and will be split equally between Dorothy House Hospice Care and The Forever Friends Appeal.

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Handmade Burger Co pre-opening day will be a ‘pay as you feel’ fundraiser

Handmade Burger Co. has today announced that it will be holding a charitable pre-opening dining session where diners will be asked to pay what they feel for their meal.

This pre-opening session will aim to raise money for The Forever Friends Appeal, the charity for The Royal United Hospital, Bath, with diners being asked to make a ‘pay as your feel donation’ rather than settling their bill. Handmade Burger Co. will then match that raised by customers with their own donation.

Corporate Officer for The Forever Friends Appeal, Jo Common, comments:  “We are so pleased that handmade burger Co. Bath have chosen to raise money for the hospital with such a unique fundraising idea!  You get to have a delicious meal, in a gorgeous new Bath restaurant – and your donation for the meal will go towards helping to build an exceptional new Cancer Centre.  Each year at the RUH we treat over 2200 new patients from the hospital’s extensive catchment area, and although the clinical care is amongst the best in the UK, the buildings are cramped, outdated, uncomfortable and no longer fit for purpose.  So with help like this we will be able to build a new and pioneering Cancer Centre, which we can be proud of for many years to come!”

The ‘pay as you feel’ evening will take place on Tuesday 18th October, the day before the grand opening on Wednesday 19th October, from 5pm until 10pm.

The minimum donation is £2, with the maximum donation amount being the standard price of the meal. Drinks are not included in the fundraiser but can be paid for separately. Handmade Burger Co. are taking bookings for the evening but customers are encouraged to turn up on the day too. To book a table for the pre-opening dining session please visit our website here.

The new Bath restaurant will be opening on Upper Borough Walls in the old Central bar – this in the heart of Bath close to the location of the Roman Baths.

Handmade Burger Co. are family owned and independent and have been passionate about great, fresh, natural burgers since they opened their first restaurant in 2006, and they are still staying true to doing things right every time.

Handmade Burger Co. are obsessed with offering award-winning burgers with imagination which are handmade from traditionally reared, grass fed, 100% fully traceable prime Scotch beef. There are over 40 varieties of handmade and hand pressed burgers on the menu and each burger can be tailored to be just the way you want it. With a selection of fabulous chicken and vegetarian options available, and a great range for children too, there really is something for everyone.

Priding themselves on the freshest and finest ingredients, Handmade Burger Co. use buns that are baked from a fourth generation family bakery, along with the finest fresh cut chips created from only the best Maris Piper potatoes. All restaurants receive deliveries of farm fresh potatoes up to six times a week to ensure that the chips are as fresh as possible – you’ll even spot the potato sacks when you visit! The outcome is the perfect golden chip that is fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outsidethat will rival the homemade ones your mum used to make.

For more information and to see the full HANDMADE BURGER CO. menu visit: www.handmadeburger.co.uk

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Cancer can’t stop Clare climbing mountains for RUH

Back in May, Clare Avenell, 33 years old from Chippenham, ticked an important adventure off her bucket list…trekking to Machu Picchu. Clare was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer in September 2014, and what followed the grueling treatment she endured was some serious determination to get her fitness back. Along the way, she has raised an incredible £5,500 (and still counting!) for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign, to say thank you to those that cared for her when she needed it the most. Clare is now urging others to follow in her footsteps and help the charity in the same way by joining the Forever Friends Appeal’s 2017 Peru trekking team.

“Two years ago, by pure chance, a large cyst was found in my left ovary. Following an operation to remove the ovary it was found, much to everyone’s surprise, to be malignant – a rare type of endometroid ovarian cancer. This lead to 6 months of chemotherapy.

On finishing treatment in January I decided I needed a goal, something to work towards to help me find my lost fitness and lose the weight I had gained. They don’t warn you that it takes a long time for the drug effects to disappear! I wanted to do something at the top of my bucket list that would challenge me, be enjoyable and while I’m at it, raise some money at the same time. This led me to finding a trek to Machu Picchu.

The whole way through my treatment and even now with my check ups, the doctors and nurses at the RUH have been amazing but the facilities not so much, and when I heard about the new cancer unit that is going to be built there was no question on who I was going to raise money for. Not only will it transform the treatment and care for patients but also make the nurses job that little bit easier by having an environment that is actually built with cancer care and treatment in mind.”

Charity treks are a unique way of achieving so many travel-related dreams, with half of the challenge to raise vital funds for a worthwhile cause along the way… the other half of the challenge is of course the physical work – most treks are designed to be tough so that you can accomplish the most!

Clare continues: “Raising money when you have a target of a few thousand pounds can seem like a daunting task but by no means impossible. I found the old saying ‘it’s not what you know……’ very much came in handy. When you mention raising money for cancer most people are more than happy to give, however if you give something in return they can be even more generous. I held a couple of quiz nights, a raffle and a silent auction which, along with some generous donations, easily took me over my target. Having easy ways to give money (justgiving page and money boxes) also makes it simple. The less complicated things are, the more people will remember to do it!

Thanks to everyone’s kind donations and those at Chippenham Rugby Club I reached my goal and in May 2016 I headed to Peru. Although the trek was challenging and the altitude breath-taking, the experience was amazing. I met some inspirational people and learnt about a fascinating culture and history. Sitting on the side of the mountain overlooking the ancient Inca site pinching myself that it wasn’t a picture and I was actually there is a memory I will always have. Going on an organised trek meant I had the best of both worlds; I got to see parts of the country I wouldn’t have seen being just a tourist but also had the reassurance that if something went wrong, someone was always there to help.


Nineteen months later and I have raised £5500 and still rising! Thank you so much to everyone that donated and helped me reach my goal, and to all the nurses and doctors at the RUH for the help they have given and continue to give me.”

Like Clare, you can also trek to Machu Picchu and make a difference to thousands of patients at the RUH. The Forever Friends Appeal are currently looking for adventurous fundraisers to join their Peru Trekking Team, departing in November 2017. The original Inca Trail challenge will lead you along gushing rivers, amongst ancient tunnels and ruins, through lush cloud-forest and sub-tropical jungle and across high mountain passes to the picture-perfect Sun Gate, where the ancient city of Machu Picchu awaits. Trekkers can choose to fundraise for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign like Clare, or any ward or department that’s close to your heart.

Want to know more? There will be a Peru Information Evening at the RUH on Wednesday 26th October from 6.30pm, which includes a talk and Q&A session with the trek leader. To find out more or to book your place, please click here or contact Laura on laurapearce1@nhs.net / 01225 821535.

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Thousands pre-heat their ovens ready to bake a difference for the RUH

Thousands of adults and children across Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire are whipping out their whisks and pre-heating their ovens in preparation for “Ted’s Big Bake Off”, The Forever Friends Appeal’s annual fundraising week for patients and staff at Bath’s Royal United Hospital.

Now in its second dough-raising year, Ted’s Big Bake Off, proudly sponsored by BuroHappold Engineering, is taking place between Monday 17th and Friday 21st October and throughout the week, will see hundreds of schools, businesses and community organisations across the hospital’s catchment area pop on their aprons and get baking to raise funds for patients and their families at the RUH.

Together with their FABULOUS Ambassadors, Tom and Henry Herbert, the Appeal are still encouraging individuals and organisations across Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire to register to take part in the fundraising week. Whether it’s holding a coffee morning, bake sale or hosting a bake off competition at work, school or with friends and family, you can choose your own recipe for success to help patients and their families at the hospital. Funds raised by your cake activities can be dedicated to support the RUH Cancer Care Campaign, which is raising a minimum of £8.5 million towards the build of a pioneering new Cancer Centre at the hospital, or a ward or department of your choice.

Baking brothers Tom and Henry, who have enjoyed 3 seasons of “The Fabulous Baker Brothers” on Channel 4, global success with DiscoveryNetwork, and now have two books to their name, are fifth generation bakers who are also famed for fronting Hobbs House Bakery, their popular family run business and cooking school in Chipping Sodbury. The Hobbs House brand has now become so popular that a new Bakery has just opened in Malmesbury, and the boys couldn’t be happier to support the RUH, who serve many patients from this area.

Tom and Henry will also be paying a special visit to staff, visitors and patients at the Royal United Hospital on Friday 21st October to officially open the Appeal’s closing activity for the fundraising week: the “RUH Big Bake Sale”– the biggest cake sale the hospital has ever seen! Last year’s Bake Sale raised over £1,000 for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign, in just a few hours, and the Appeal’s Events Team are now hoping to bear this total in 2016.

Tom Herbert, Innovations Director at Hobbs House Bakery says: “Join us, Big Ted and local baking lovers for a delicious and fun week of fundraising. It’s a tremendously tasty way to raise money for the Bath Royal Hospital. So bake your best and we’ll see you there!”

Events & Community Officer for the Appeal, Emily Lynch, says: “We’re really excited that both Tom & Henry will be visiting the hospital this year to officially open our RUH Big Bake Sale! We’re inviting members of the public to come along on Friday 21st October to meet the brothers, and indulge in some baking treats, courtesy of some of the finest bakers in Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire, all in support of the Cancer Care Campaign! If you are a star baker and would like to donate some cakes to the cause, please do get in touch with the Appeal’s team– the more cakes the merrier!”

If you haven’t yet signed up to Ted’s Big, it’s not too late! From Victoria Sponge’s, fairy cakes, breads, pastries and pies there’s something for everyone to enjoy…taking part in Ted Big Bake Off is a delicious way to show your support for the hundreds of thousands of local people who are cared for by the Hospital each and every year – the real icing on the cake!

Whether you’re an individual, business, school or community organisation, getting involved in Ted’s Big Bake Off 2016 couldn’t be easier! Simply visit www.tedsbigbakeoff.com to register and get your oven mitts on your FREE baking pack with tips, tools and tasty ideas to really add the icing on the cake. You could even win a visit from Big Ted himself! Plus if our baking week doesn’t work for you, you’re more than welcome to hold your event on a date that does.

Ted’s Big Bake Off 2015 raised over £20,000 for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign, as well as other wards and departments at the hospital. The Appeal team hope they can beat this target in 2016!

If you can’t take part in Ted’s Big Bake Off but would like to donate some baking treats for the “RUH Big Bake Off”, please contact the Appeal’s Events Team on 01225 825823 or visit www.tedsbigbakeoff.com

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Showstopping prize for businesses who are kneaded to bake a difference

Businesses all across the Royal United Hospital’s catchment are being encouraged to take part in The Forever Friends Appeal’s annual fundraising week, Ted’s Big Bake Off, and are being offered the chance to win a special prize donated by Bath Cake Company.  Every business that registers to take part via www.tedsbigbakeoff.com will automatically be entered into a competition to win a cake decorating party for up to 10 colleagues at the Bath based Cake Company.

Ted’s Big Bake Off, proudly sponsored by BuroHappold Engineering, is taking place from Monday 17th to Friday 21st October.  Last year, thousands of people across Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire took part in the week and raised over £20,000 to help transform care for patients and their families at the RUH.  The Appeal are excited to be offering businesses this new incentive this year, and hope that this will help raise even more funds in 2016.

Corporate Officer for The Forever Friends Appeal, Jo Common, comments:  “We hope that this prize will help encourage even more local businesses to get involved with the fundraising activities and raise as much money as possible for the RUH.  Taking part is simple.  Just register online to receive your free baking pack in the post, and you will then be entered into the draw to win this brilliant prize.  Then simply get fundraising! 

Jo Common continues:  “We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Celia from Bath Cake Company for kindly donating this fabulous prize and getting so involved with our TBBO activities this year!  We are thrilled that they have chosen the Appeal as their Charity of the Year in 2016.”

Award winning cake designer and founder of Bath Cake Company, Celia Adams, comments:  “We’re so pleased to be involved with TBBO this year and to offer a cupcake decorating class for the lucky winners. The Forever Friends Appeal is a fantastic organisation and TBBO is a great way to get the community involved with raising money for a local charity.”

Individuals, schools, businesses and community organisations are pre-heating their ovens, prepare their mixing bowls and get baking to support either the RUH Cancer Care Campaign, or a ward or department of their choice at the Hospital. To sign up to take part in Ted’s Big Bake Off, visit www.tedsbigbakeoff.com.

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