Friday, 27 July 2012

Ten Thousand Ways To Say Thank You - Liz Kessler

My blog today comes to you with a couple of warnings

Warning number one – this blog is not entirely about books (although it is related).
Warning number two – it ends with a request.

To those of you who are still with me, thank you and read on…

About thirteen years ago, I was working as a teacher when I suddenly remembered that I’d always wanted to be a writer. As is sometimes my way, I acted swiftly. I packed in my job, enrolled on a Novel Writing MA and decided that I was going to be earning a living as a writer within a year.

As is sometimes Life’s way, it turned out I wasn’t destined to have the smooth ride I had planned. Within a few months of setting off on this exciting new venture, I was told I had cancer. Which rather changed things.

Right from the start, I was assured that I had an extremely curable form of thyroid cancer and the prognosis was about as positive as you could get. In fact, the surgeon’s words (and I shall never forget them) were that if he was told he had been bad and had to have cancer, but he hadn’t been that bad, so he could choose which cancer he had – he’d choose what I had.

Still, it’s never nice being 33 (or any age – and a bit of a hypochondriac at that) and told you have cancer. So my year of adventure took a few unexpected twists and turns. But cancer also did a few things that I never knew it would do, and left a few surprising gifts in its wake. Its biggest gift was gratitude. At 33, I now knew what it felt like to wake up each day being glad and grateful to be alive. Many people don’t have that awareness until reaching their later years. That gratitude gave me a strength I didn’t have before, and made me even more determined to become a published writer – if not within twelve months then definitely at some point. Cancer taught me that if I wanted to do something, I had to get on and do it. If I put it off, by the time I got round to it I might be too late.

And so I worked very hard, and I did become a published writer, and a few years later, I had begun to make a living at it. More reasons to be grateful.

A few years later still, I upped and left my life in Manchester, set off in a campervan and ended up starting a new life in Cornwall.

This meant that my life now consisted of doing something that is my absolute passion for my job, and living in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Add to that my daily knowledge that I was lucky merely to be alive – which I had felt since my earlier illness – and I can tell you, I was starting to feel very much in need of something to do with all the gratitude I had.

Which was when I heard about the Precious Lives Appeal.  This was a charity aiming to raise £5 million to open Cornwall’s first children’s hospice. As I was very much aware that Cornwall had given me a beautiful home and that children were largely responsible for my wages, this felt like the perfect fit, and I got in touch to find out what I could do.

A couple of years on from then, Little Harbour, Cornwall’s first and only children’s hospice, has now been built. The hospice this year started working with families across the county who have a child or children with life-limiting illnesses, and supporting both the children and their families. The work they do is utterly incredible, and the place itself is just beautiful. (Part of the ethos is that children coming here should feel that they are staying at a Five Star hotel, not a hospital.) When I first visited the hospice, just before they opened, I knew that I wanted to do whatever I could to help them. With annual running costs of around £1.3 million, they certainly need all the help they can get.

So I decided to plan a few events. The first of these is The Big Raffle for Little Harbour. For this, we have managed to get almost fifty local businesses to donate prizes. We have AMAZING prizes, ranging from a week’s holiday in St Ives at Ayr Holiday Park and one or two night stays at SIX top hotels around Cornwall, to meals out, private cinema screenings, even a signed surfboard from one of the UK’s top surfers. We hope that the holidays will appeal to people outside of Cornwall whilst the other prizes will appeal to local folk too. We are being very ambitious and hoping to raise £10,000 for Little Harbour with this raffle.

So here comes the request. (And don’t say I didn’t warn you – it’s up there at the top.)   Would you like to help support this charity by buying some raffle tickets? You can find out more about the raffle and a full list of the prizes here. In brief, though, raffle tickets are £1 each and we are selling them in books of five. So if you’d like to do any of the following...
  • Possibly win a holiday in St Ives
  • Win any of the other amazing prizes
  • Or just support a beautiful and incredible children’s hospice

...all you have to do is to write a cheque for any multiple of five (plus a pound for postage) made out to Children’s Hospice South West and send it to THE BIG RAFFLE, c/o Halsetown Inn, Halsetown, St. Ives TR26 3NA. We will send you your raffle tickets and, if you win anything, you’ll hear about it soon after September 4th. If you no longer possess such a thing as a cheque book, you can call us on 07554 631690 or message us on our Facebook page to find out other ways to pay. 
In the meantime, thank you (not that you had any say in the matter, but thank you anyway!) for letting me use my spot to share something that feels more meaningful and important to me right now than most other things I can think of.

Find out more about Liz


Emma Barnes said...

Thank you, Liz, for a moving and thought-provoking post. I will send off for some raffle tickets today.

Liz Kessler said...

Thank you Emma! xx

Katherine Langrish said...

Will do, Liz - what a wonderful cause and a wonderful post too!

Sue Purkiss said...

Wow. Thanks Liz. Will be doing this.

Penny Dolan said...

Wonderful explanation of why Little Harbour means so much to you, and to others. Thanks for the address.

Victoria Eveleigh said...

Great cause, Liz. The N Devon Children's Hospice is a wonderful place too. Cheque in the post. Tortie

Liz Kessler said...

Thanks for the nice comments, folks. And thanks even more for the positive responses to my appeal to buy raffle tickets! :)

Ruth Symes said...

Cheque is winging it's way to Hasletown now! x

Anonymous said...

Gave me goosebumps to read this Liz. Cheque in the post!