Please sponsor my Social Media Silence for the Sunshine Fund

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 08.09.03And so it starts! My Social Media Silence to raise money for the Sunshine Fund as part of its Go Bananas campaign. Rules of engagement: - No posting on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Vimeo or Pinterest (or commenting on others' posts). - No secret surfing of these sites. - If I forget or deviate from these rules I have to pay a £10 forfeit to the charity every time (scheduled links to my fundraising page don't count). - I am allowed to use email to ask and chivvy other people to share my fundraising link. - Diary to be kept tracking progress (the experience of going cold turkey, plus missed interactions and witty banter!)

And so to the big ask. With no social media access, I'm reliant on YOU to help me fundraise. Every penny goes towards specialist equipment for disabled children here in the North East of England. Please don't let me drop out of your feeds entirely - if you could share my Virgin Money Giving page even just once throughout the course of this week on at least one social media platform, I'd appreciate it.

Thank you! See you on the 7th June...

The riches that were really rags and the rags that were really riches

20140228-142233.jpg As a Trustee of the Sunshine Fund, I was privileged to attend the Glass Slipper Awards today. These, as well as acting as a fundraiser for the charity, celebrate the achievements of North East women.

The event featured 3 amazing speakers: Catherine Senior, whose sister Jen has cerebral palsy, Val McDermid, author of Wire in the Blood and Caroline Theobald from The Bridge Club.

I just wanted to share a few points from Caroline's speech because it seemed to me the perfect reminder of what life is about.

Caroline's story was about the riches that were really rags and the rags that were really riches.

She told how giving up the big job, with the big salary and big car, made her a nicer and happier person. And how life is now more rewarding because she spends time with those who matter - and how we all have it within us to do the same, if that's what we'd like.

Caroline had the following tips for those looking for a new direction:

1) Find yourself. Do the right things for the right reasons. Value people for what they are and not what they are worth.

2) Find a support network - there is one behind every successful person.

3) Access as much life-skill and personal development as you can.

4) Success doesn't have to be big, small steps take you in the same direction.

5) What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Pain teaches you fortitude and tenacity.

Caroline concluded by saying we have it in ourselves to know what real success is. We can achieve this by being consistent, confident and by acting with integrity.

Motivational words for anyone ready for a big life change with happiness as the end goal.

Celebrity challenges - are we asking too much?

Earlier today, popular TV presenter Davina McCall was pulled from Lake Windermere at the end of a mile and a half long swim, as part of an ongoing fundraising challenge for Sport Relief. You can see the Daily Telegraph's video here but be warned - watching this I was distressed; firstly by concern for Davina who was limp from the cold and exhaustion, and then by the intrusion as people around took pictures and media followed while she was carried up to the nearby hotel to be cared for.

Although, purely out of respect for Davina, I then donated to the Sport Relief cause, I have to say that I am now wondering whether I should have done so.

I am full of questions. Firstly I hope Davina is fine. But what I am thinking is this - Davina may be in the middle of an incredibly selfless and brave challenge but is it a good example to set? Are we asking too much from celebrities today? Are charities so strapped that they feel forced to push people past their limits in order to reach their fundraising targets? Who thinks this is a good idea? When do we stop - when someone nearly dies, or does?  Also who makes the most money here - Sport Relief or the media who will secure higher viewing and readership figures with this type of story? I think it's time this debate is opened up.

Let's face it, most of us donate to a particular charity because we have a personal connection with the cause (perhaps through a family or friend, if not our own experience), because we have a chance to do so spontaneously or because the charity communicates well about how the funds are used and we empathise. Generally giving money in all of those contexts results in a feel good factor.

And here is the rub, I don't feel good right now. I actually feel pretty awful. Davina's reassuring tweet actually makes me feel more anxious for her - she's still going to get on a bike?


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Yes Davina may have signed up for this but seeing her close-to-lifeless body being dragged from a lake - is it really what the public wants (echoes of Princess Diana's final taxi ride, anyone)? Shouldn't charities have a stronger duty of care, and be stronger by saying no? Shouldn't the Telegraph and others have stepped away sooner? It's time for a change and that change can't come soon enough, if you ask me.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Feel better soon, Davina!

[Post blog note: Sport Relief tweets show Davina on her bike and pushing on so she's hopefully feeling a lot better.]