Leicestershire charity reaches £1.5 million donation milestone on landmark anniversary

By Thomas Carter

Leicestershire-based charity Alex’s Wish has received a remarkable total of £1.5 million in donations since its inception, with the achievement coming on the organisation’s tenth anniversary.

Set up in 2012 by parents Emma and Andy Hallam following their son Alex’s diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the charity has helped to fund several ground-breaking research initiatives, all with the aim of finding a cure to the condition.

DMD is an aggressive muscle wasting condition that affects 1 in every 3,500 boys born, weakening the heart and lungs as a result, and the charity has worked to provide support for those in need.

Looking back to the charity’s beginnings, Emma said: “When we got the news that our little boy had been diagnosed with DMD it was devastating, and to make things more difficult there were not a lot of treatments available besides steroids.

“After trying to find out more about the condition, my husband and I started raising money for a couple of charities, and it was at this point we looked into starting our own.

“I knew I’d absolutely love to do it, so we spoke with our friends and family about how we wanted to raise awareness of the condition and create a platform to help those in the community.

“From there Alex’s Wish was born – our son’s wish to find a cure for Duchenne.”

The Alex’s Wish Board of Trustees at their annual Supporters’ Lunch last year (Credit: Alex’s Wish)

Chris Everard, vice-chair of the Trustees Board, was delighted with the charity’s success. He said: “The £1.5 million mark doesn’t really feel real. Having worked with Emma and Andy for nearly five years, it seems such an incredible and awfully large amount of money. 

“Hundreds upon hundreds of events, promotions, sponsorships and charitable giving by people and organisations have led to this treatment and everyone of them has made a difference.

“The progress of the charity brings a sense of momentum and achievement, plus being able to give back something in such a positive way is always a delight.”

With their fundraising events varying from marathon cycle rides to supercar events, it is the sense of community, Chris insisted, that is key to the charity’s success.

Mr Everard continued: “What makes Alex’s Wish different is quite simple – the people. 

“It is the passion of Emma, the cold hard determination of Andy, the willingness, innovative nature of the trustees board. 

“It is the tireless work that (fundraising managers) Zoe and Heidi put in every day. It is the joy that people feel when they come in contact with the charity and are able to help in some way.”

Zoe Edwards, fundraising and events manager for the charity, added: “When I look back and think about what we have achieved and where we have come over that time, it is unbelievable.

“The events, campaigns, awareness and support have grown substantially, enabling us to grow our fundraising and make a bigger impact.

“The change in the scientific landscape over that time has also been incredible, with the development of gene therapy and technological advancements to make living with Duchenne easier. It is a huge privilege to be part of.”

To find out more about Alex’s Wish and get involved with the charity go to: www.alexswish.co.uk

Leicester collection appeal sets off for Ukraine with hundreds of items donated

By Ben Stevens

GOOD WILL: The team pack a van full of supplies for refugees

A collection appeal in South Wigston concluded on Saturday with hundreds of items being donated in aid of people fleeing Ukraine.

Around 100 boxes of essential items were donated to the appeal organised by Natasha Yearby in just over two weeks, with dozens of boxes of toys, shoes and clothes also given to the collection.

The items were donated to the Polish Club in Loughborough on Saturday and will begin their journey to near the Polish-Ukrainian border today(WED,MARCH23).

Natasha said: “We have just been completely overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of everyone who has given whatever they can for the appeal.

“This was just a little idea we had to help those desperately poor people fleeing the invasion and it really grew beyond anything we could ever have imagined.

“Initially we thought we might only fill a small car with donations but instead we filled up an entire van so we are just really grateful and happy to have been able to do our bit to help.”

Natasha had previously called for people to donate any physical items that they could as opposed to a financial contribution as she believed this way a more immediate and substantial difference can be made for refugees.

As of last Sunday, it was estimated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that more than 3.5 million people had fled Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24, with the majority going to Poland.

Natasha hopes, however, that some of the items collected will go to people still in Ukraine.

She said: “We know there are a lot of people who can’t or don’t want to leave Ukraine so we are going to try our best and get some of these items into the country if we can.”

St Peter’s Catholic parish in Hinckley offers help for Ukraine

by Maciej Wojcik

St Peter’s church, Hinckley

A church community in Hinckley has rallied round to help the people fleeing war-torn Ukraine.

The year 2022 has been a hard one for the people of Ukraine with, as of March 20, more than three million having fled from the country because of the Russian invasion, leaving their relatives, houses and goods behind.

People in the UK have spontaneously organised help for these refugees.

St Peter’s Catholic parish church in Hinckley has joined in by collecting funds for the Disaster Emergency Commitee, and by advising people about places which are collecting items such as food, baby items, bedding or toiletries.

These include the Feed the Hungry charity in Castle Street, Hinckley, and Ss Simon & Jude’s Church in Earl Shilton. Money or cheques can also be passed through the letterbox of the Priory and will be passed to the DEC.

Agnieszka Gwozdz, a volunteer, said: “Collections started weeks ago and we have already £3,000 collected from Hinckley and Market Bosworth and Earl Shilton. And it is still growing.”

‘Homeless people are just like everyone else – they’re just having a tough time. We want to help them & give them a second chance’

Riverside Café has partnered with Change Please to tackle homelessness in the UK – through their love of good quality coffee. Maryam Goncalves reports.

Change Please launch at Riverside Café

Riverside Café, one of the coffee shops in the DMU campus, has recently partnered with Change Please, a social enterprise which invests 100% of their profits into making the lives of those experiencing homelessness better, by giving them a living wage job, training, housing, and opportunities to progress.

Change Please CEO, Cemal Ezel, was at Riverside on Wednesday, January 26, to explain the enterprise, the coffee, and the lives they have changed.

Ezar talked about one of the most impactful cases he has ever seen – the case of Adan Abobaker, a former homeless man who jumped into a frozen river Thames to rescue a woman who attempted to commit suicide.

After risking his life, having his clothes and possessions stolen, and contracting hypothermia due to the low temperatures he braved, Abobaker was presented with the highest civilian award for bravery.

The former chef then shared a flat with his partner, thinking his life was coming back together. But the relationship came to an end, and Abobaker found himself back on the streets while battling depression.

This is when Change Please came along and offered Abobaker a part-time job as a barista on a coffee cart in Borough Market, London, which gave him a second chance to improve his quality of life.

“It’s incredible that we can walk past someone like Adan on the street and we don’t stop to think who they are or what value they can have on society,” Cemal Ezel told the crowd at Riverside.

“In Adan’s case, he won the highest civilian award for bravery and is a real hero. Yet because he was on the street he was disregarded with the same stigma as all homeless people.

“Homeless people are just like anyone else – they are people who have fallen on incredibly tough times. Change Please is trying to help as many like Adan as possible – people who we walk past every day – and give them a second chance at life.”

DMU Hip Hop supporters raise money for breast cancer charity Make 2nds Count

By Kira Gibson

As part of Raise and Give (RAG) week at the Students’ Union in De Montfort University (DMU), the DMU Hip Hop society was asked to do a charity stall.

They chose to raise money for Make 2nds Count – a charity dedicated to helping those with secondary breast cancer.

Secondary breast cancer is a cancer that has spread from the breast to other areas of the body, also known as stage IV (four) breast cancer.

A member of the Hip Hop Society, Caitlin Hamit, was running the stall on Tuesday (Nov23).

She said: “The charity was chosen as it was an under-represented charity and one of her close family members had been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer and this charity helped her family with it.”

The week is arranged by the SU to raise awareness and money for a variety of charities. RAG week will be running until 4pm tomorrow (FRI, NOV26), with various societies raising money for their chosen charities.

The stalls are filled with fun games and things to do, where only a donation or a small amount is asked for to play along.

DMU Hip Hop’s stall decided they would have a chocolate toss.

The aim of the game was to land a pound coin on your desired chocolate bar and if you managed it, then you would win the chocolate bar in question.

They catered for all in this, with normal Dairy Milk bars, vegan and dairy free options for those who couldn’t have Dairy Milk.

The stalls also have a donation box on there with the charity details on in case you’d just like to donate without playing the game.

To find out more about RAG week, please go to: https://www.demontfortsu.com/news/article/dsu/Raise-and-Give-2021/

To find out more about Make 2nds Count and how to raise money for their charity, please go to: https://www.make2ndscount.co.uk/