Recently, we spoke with Peter who has shared his fundraising ‘top tips, worries and challenges’ with us after taking part in various fundraising challenges over the years in memory of his son, Jamie.    

Can you tell us about yourself and the fundraising challenges that you have taken part in and what inspired you to want to fundraise for PAPYRUS?

I’m Peter, I’m retired and live in Leicester with my partner, Dinah. Our son Jamie died by suicide in July 2019, aged 17. After losing Jamie I knew that I wanted to fundraise in his memory and in 2022 myself and Dinah took part in a variety of fundraising challenges and organised events for PAPYRUS.

I walked the Cape Wrath Trail (CWT), ran the London Marathon and the Leicester Half Marathon. Whilst Dinah took part in the 52 open water ‘Swims For Jim’ and spoke to people at Parkrun events in the lead up to the London Marathon. We also organised a fundraising gig at the end of 2022.

I then spent a lot of 2023 writing and recording an album of songs in memory of Jamie, ‘beautiful shining perfect boy’, with my friend Pete Cooke, for our band ‘Just the Dust’. I also wrote a book about the CWT challenge called ‘Cape Wrath Trail for Jamie’.

Both the album and book are primarily about remembering and honouring Jamie, and reflecting on him and his death, so the first effort was to try to make them worthy of that. If they are, then I think they will also raise a decent amount of money for PAPYRUS too.

We are now in the process of organising a fundraising concert at The Musician in Leicester which will take place on Sunday 7 April 2024, with songs being played from the album. All profits and royalties going to PAPYRUS.

We wanted to help prevent young suicides, both through awareness raising, and helping fund the work that PAPYRUS carries out and by taking part in these challenges and organising events we are assisting with enabling that.

Getting started

What fundraising strategies or tactics did you find most effective in reaching your goals?

I found that a range of different tactics worked and work really well with my fundraising. I find that keeping people in touch and as involved as possible is the most helpful. I use a range of different social media platforms, but I found that (personally) Facebook has been the most useful. I do regular posts and utilise the networks and contacts that I have made over the years. I do also find that short videos work well too.

Were there any unique approaches you took that worked particularly well for your campaigns?

I think that it’s so important to tell your story, as far and as wide as you possibly can so that you further the conversation about young suicide, as well as raise money. Your story is the thing that engages people in the cause.

When I completed the Cape Wrath Trail, I also had cards made, so that I could give them to people on the way. They cost a small amount but raised well over what I initially paid. I left them in bothies (mountain shelters) along the way and because of this, lots of people saw them and donated later, which I was truly grateful for.

What information did you find was useful to include on your page?

I included my story within my fundraising page, this is what enable supporters to donate, they knew what it meant to both me and Dinah. I also included links to useful sites and in our current effort I also include links to the album and book on Amazon so that these can be purchased, ultimately raising more funds for PAPYRUS.

Your journey

Did you find people engaged with your page and donated, if not, how did you challenge this?

We haven’t experienced any problems with engagement, I think because people are interested in our story, we receive donations regularly. My advice would be to be persistent and keep talking about your fundraising.

How did you ensure you reached your fundraising target?

That’s quite hard to say, I don’t think that we ever doubted that we wouldn’t reach our target, and somehow that engaged people enough. When I took part in the videos for the Cape Wrath Trail, I made sure I said things like “It would be great to reach X amount by the end of the week.” That way people were more inclined to donate to help me reach my goals.

How did you go about building a network of supporters for your fundraising efforts and how did you engage friends, family and the community to support your cause?

For us, this was simple, our families and friends, Jamie’s friends, neighbours, teachers and so on, all lost Jamie too. We always felt that and although we grieved most, many others grieved too and people really wanted to do something, and really all we had to do was ask, and suggest things. That went for strangers too, if you tell your story, people want to help.

Can you share some training tips that you used for the Cape Wrath Trail and London Marathon?

So, for the physical activities that I took part in, I did lots of walking and running and I also carried a weighted pack as part of my training. For marathons there are lots of training plans available online and I found using one of these worked well for me. I found the more I trained, the easier it got. Taking on a major challenge like the CWT, or London Marathon is harder than you think, so training is vital to ensure that you are prepared, both physically and mentally.

Fundraising can be tough at times; how did you ensure you looked after yourself throughout all your hard work/what self-care elements were included?

I think the best advice I can give for this is that you must reflect, or learn to reflect, about how you’re feeling, how your body’s feeling and make sure you don’t burn yourself out, physically or emotionally. I see a counsellor, and have done for more than two years now, so that helps me.

Challenges and obstacles

Fundraising often comes with its share of challenges. Can you share some of the obstacles you faced during your fundraising journey?

The biggest challenge for both me and Dinah was opening ourselves up to the world and telling our story, because as soon as we did people started to relate and tell us about their losses. I noticed this particularly when taking part in the CWT. People wanted to talk about how they too had lost someone or knew someone that had been lost to suicide. This can be difficult and so it’s important to make sure you look after yourself every step of the way.

How did you overcome these challenges, both in terms of fundraising and personal motivation?

Although these conversations were sometimes hard, we also saw them as rich human connections, conversations that we were starting, that might have not happened without us. Hearing these stories and sharing my story along the way gave me the drive to continue for Jamie.

The challenge

Did you enjoy your challenges and events and would you recommend them to other potential fundraisers, did you find your fundraising rewarding?

I have thoroughly enjoyed all my fundraising and am looking forward to future events, it may sound strange, but all of my fundraising efforts I don’t see as carrying them out voluntarily, they’ve felt deeply necessary, and they’ve been part of our grieving process, remembering and honouring Jamie. Life has been hard without him and would be even harder without our fundraising efforts for PAPYRUS.

What were some of the most memorable moments or milestones during your fundraising journey?

This may also sound strange, but the money, for us, is secondary, important but not the priority. The conversations we have had and the people we have met, the sharing of stories and support, has been the best thing and one of the most memorable moments. Another milestone from the fundraising journey was raising our 2022 target in the first two weeks! This is something that both Dinah and I will always be incredibly proud of.

Can you share a highlight or achievement that made the entire experiences worthwhile?

I think one of the highlights must be that after speaking with people about Jamie and our story, they now feel confident in taking to young people that may be struggling, in a way that they couldn’t before. I think this shows how important it is to have conversations and be open, by doing this we can advise young people and let them know that hope and support is out there.

Advice for prospective fundraisers/closing thoughts

What advice would you give to individuals who are considering fundraising for PAPYRUS but may be hesitant to start?

For those bereaved by suicide, I’d say that your story is the most powerful thing, and if people hear it, they will want to support young suicide prevention. For those who are supporters and not bereaved by suicide, you are helping people to see that this as such an important issue, and even the smallest step helps to break the historic silence that surrounds suicide.

Are there any specific steps or strategies you would recommend for someone just beginning their fundraising journey?

Again, I would say, tell your story, as far as you’re able to, as often as you can, and link it to the need for prevention. Individuals will want to support you on your journey and be invested in your story and the goals that you are aiming for.

Would you take part in any fundraising in the future? / Do you have any future plans or ideas for continuing your support of PAPYRUS or other charitable causes?

My goal this year is to promote the album and fundraising gig, as well as the book. All of which will be raising vital funds. As to what will I be doing after this. I don’t have any particular ideas about what’s next, but I’m sure there’ll be something!

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