As you may know, Cecily's Fund has six places in the one-mile swim at this year's Swim Serpentine. Last year was the first event - here are five great reasons why you should take the leap in 2017, swim the mile and fundraise for us!
1) It's Part of the London Marathon Family
Swim Serpentine is organised by the same team that run the UK's biggest and most successful fundraising event - the London Marathon. The Marathon has been running since 1981 and raises millions for charities every year - Swim Serpentine is just starting out, but has the same organisational powerhouse behind it. You can expect a fantastic, well-run event if you take part in Swim Serpentine on September 16.
2) Swimming Will Make You Stand Out from the Crowd
Running is the most popular activity for fundraisers, and while it's a great way to generate money it's also a familiar one. By signing up to swim a mile, you'll be doing something much less common: and that might make it a bit easier to get your friends and family to sponsor you.
3) It's Easier Than You Think
Swimming a mile outdoors can sound daunting, especially if you're not a regular swimmer. It's for that reason that you'll have to train to prepare yourself for this event. However, don't be put off - swimming a mile is definitely doable and easier than you think, as our 2016 swimmers discovered. The organisers also provide a training plan.
4) We've Got Your Back
While we can't be in the water with you on the day, Cecily's Fund can support your fundraising efforts. We'll promote your fundraising page on all of our social media channels, sharing any posts of your own. We'll also link to your page from our website, and spread the word in any other way we can. We can advise you on how best to fundraise, and we provide a fundraising pack full of helpful tips.
5) Your Fundraising Changes Lives
Every pound you can raise for Cecily's Fund by taking part in Swim Serpentine will really help us to change lives in Zambia. Just £50 is enough for us to keep a child in school for a year, and £250 can enable us to provide five small business grants - helping young people get a business off the ground and secure a vital income for themselves.
At the 2017 London 10K Run organised by Virgin Sport, Cecily's Fund supporters once again hit the road to raise money for our life-changing work in Zambia.
This year, there were 12 runners in our team - many of them drawn from Southborough High School who have been fantastic supporters of Cecily's Fund in recent years. “Running the London 10k for Cecily’s Fund was amazing from start to finish", says headteacher Niall Smith. "Thoroughly recommended!"
Our other runners included veteran of the 2012 event Henrietta Hill, Ellie Rogers (whose mum is our Chair Steph Harland), and Cecily's cousin Harriette Peel who shared her thoughts on the day:
"The British 10K was a great experience and one that I'm very proud to have completed on behalf of Cecily's Fund. I did it in 56m 22s, which for a first attempt and in pretty high temperatures I'm very proud of! But more than anything, I was struck very strongly by what a privilege it felt to be physically capable of running a race like this at all.
Consequently, the opportunity to use my own health and physical fitness to raise money for those who aren't as fortunate was one that I am very grateful to Cecily's Fund for. Thanks to all the team for their support, and I very much hope that my small contribution will be of use to this fantastic charity."
In total, our wonderful runners have raised almost £2,500 for Cecily's Fund this year - enough to help keep 50 children in school for a year, or to train over 30 Peer Educators. To all those who took part in the 10K or donated to our runners' JustGiving pages - we can't thank you enough!
If you've been inspired by what our runners have achieved and if you feel at home in the water, we have the perfect fundraising opportunity coming up in September! The Swim Serpentine is its organised by the makers of the London Marathon and 2017 is the second year for this fresh new event. To register your interest, fill in our form today - it only takes a minute, and taking part could provide children in Zambia with years' worth of education.
Jon Hurley is a longstanding supporter of Cecily's Fund. He knew Cecily when he too was in Zambia in 1997. Today, he works at the Cardiff office of the professional services firm WYG. Over three days at the end of June, Jon and his colleagues tackled Wales' 3 Peaks Challenge, raising money for Cecily's Fund as part of WYG's "High 5" fundraising scheme. The challenge has raised over £600.
After a few well-earned beers on a Friday night in January, I mentioned that I heard of some people who climbed the Welsh 3 Peaks – Snowdon, Cader Idris and Pen Y Fan – over a couple of days, but also cycled between them. After a couple more drinks the plan was hatched.
We travelled to Bangor on Thursday 30 June by train, with a support van which brought all the bikes, equipment, energy drinks and crate loads of lycra. After a couple of beers on the train (you may have noticed a common theme here!) some bright spark came up with the idea of cycling from the train station in Bangor to Llanberis, where we were staying.
As I pointed out, technically the challenge was to climb the 3 Welsh Peaks, and cycle between them, so any cycling before or after a mountain was outside of the challenge! This was laughed down so after the train pulled into the station at 10pm, and we had waited 10 minutes for the van to turn up off we set.
The following morning the rain and wind which Wales is famous for greeted us as we stepped outside. The cycle from Llanberis to Snowdon was pretty tough in the conditions and this was much the same for the walk up the mountain. After a quick coffee and pasty in the café on the top where the views were non-existent we headed back down. We then had a great descent into Porthmadog where we stopped for a mid-afternoon tea and sandwich. It was then onwards past Harlech Castle and we finally made it to Dolgellau at around 6.
Left: at the summit of Cader Idris. Right: Harlech Castle.
The sun was out on the Saturday and we could not have asked for better conditions as we walked up Cader Idris. This was the hardest mountain of the 3 but in terms views it was absolutely stunning. We even managed to catch the last 5 minutes of the British and Irish Lions second rugby test against New Zealand and it was great to hear them win.
Morale was high as we came off the mountain – however we bumped into a couple of lycra clad fitness fanatics who happened to be doing what we were taking 3 days to do in only 24 hours! With a strong headwind against us we then cycled off to Machynlleth for some much needed supplies before the long and extremely steep climb to Staylittle. It was then a shortish ride to the Elan Vale for the night. We managed to find a local hotel for a great meal, but we were so tired and hungry that we ate on the way to the accommodation – we weren’t too sure what the locals made of 12 sweaty middle aged men sat in lycra eating a 3 course meal!
For the last day of the trip, after some overnight rain, the sun was out again. We made good progress to Builth Wells and got to Brecon for lunch time. Alter a quick sandwich looking over the local canal we tackled the last big climb to the foot of Pen y Fan. Steeling ourselves with a 99 ice cream, the walk up and down Pen y Fan took only one and a half hours. For some of us the trip was now over and we drove back to Cardiff, however the real hard men in the group they decided to tackle the extra 40 miles back home.
Thank you so much to Jon and his team for taking on this fantastic challenge! If you'd like to donate, the team's fundraising page is still open. We're always looking for supporters to fundraise for us and we have places available in the 2017 Swim Serpentine. Interested? Contact us!
Before travelling to Zambia, Cecily attended Bedales School in Hampshire. Two decades on from her tragic death, the school is remembering her by restoring a "Cecily's Garden" and taking part in the Great South Run in October.
Ruth Whiting is the former head of history at Bedales. Her recent blog post discusses Cecily's time at the school and her plans to study Modern Languages at Newham College, Cambridge. One of the school's responses to the loss of Cecily was to create a special garden at the school, which has undergone many changes over the years. This academic year, the garden has been restored.
David Anson, who is guiding the project says: “The aim is to create a cottage garden that makes use of the wild-flower nature of it. The path through it is to encourage the sense of contemplation.”
Bedales' Director of External Communications is organising a large team of runners to take on the Great South Run this October. The money raised (with over 20 runners having been recruited so far) will be divided between Cecily's Fund and the John Badley Foundation. We will of course be supporting the school's generous fundraising efforts in our 20th anniversary year and wish all runners the best with their training!
For more information, see Mr. Reynolds' own blog post.
On June 9 at Burford School, four teams clashed to be the first winners of the Zam Challenge shield - in the end, the school's staff team emerged triumphant and over £740 has been raised for Cecily's Fund.
Burford School generously hosted our five-a-side football event, and entered three teams. The school's staff, Year 12, and alumni teams faced a Cecily's Fund side recruited and captained by Simon Isherwood. Each of the six matches were fast-paced and very competitive, with every team determined to win the day!
Match 1: Year 12 3 - 2 Alumni
Match 2: Staff 5 - 3 Cecily's Fund
Match 3: Staff 2 - 3 Alumni
Match 4: Cecily's Fund 4 - 3 Year 12
Match 5: Staff 2 - 0 Year 12
Match 6: Cecily's Fund 3 - 4 Alumni
In the end, Burford staff won out over their alumni team on goal difference and secured the first ever Zam Challenge championship. Cecily's Fund had to settle for joint third place, but did score more goals than any other team. After the football, players and Burford sixth form enjoyed a barbecue, music and raffle which raised extra funds.
We're hugely grateful to everyone who played, spectated, donated and helped with this special competition which we hope will become an annual event. Our thanks also to Wenn Townsend who sponsored the Zam Challenge, and to Bakers Butchers in Witney who provided the meat for our barbecue.
If you're looking for a different way to raise money for Cecily's Fund, the second Swim Serpentine might be just the event for you!
From the minds behind the London Marathon, Swim Serpentine is a new open-water swimming event which takes place in Hyde Park on September 16. Last year, our two swimmers Tim and Verity (Cecily's sister) raised well over £2,000 by taking part in the first-ever event.
Swimming a mile in open-water might sound intimidating, but with a bit of practice Tim and Verity found it to be very doable - and fun! What's more, the £2,000 they raised is enough for us to support 40 Zambian children to go to school for a year.
This year, Cecily's Fund has six places in this special event. Sign up today to become part of Swim Serpentine and help us make a splash in our 20th anniversary year!
The London 10K, Cecily's Day, and our upcoming Zam Challenge football tournament are all featured within the packed pages of our 2017 Summer Newsletter, available now!
The second of our three 2017 newsletters is the last before our 20th anniversary celebration at Cecily's Day on September 2. It's packed with information on all the events and fundraising going on to celebrate the milestone:
- A new Q&A with two of the teachers from Southborough High School who are once again running the London 10K for us this July
- All the details of The Zam Challenge, a brand-new football event we are running together with Burford School on June 9 (you can learn more and donate here)
- An extensive piece by our co-founder Basil - Cecily's father - on the origins of Cecily's Fund and the ongoing importance of Cecily's Day
Cecily's Fund is excited to announce The Zam Challenge - a special 5-a-side football tournament organised in partnership with Burford School. Donate whatever you can to support our work in Zambia and our 20th anniversary!
Burford School Sixth Form have generously adopted Cecily's Fund as their charity for 2017 - and as part of their fundraising efforts, they're co-organising and hosting The Zam Challenge on Friday June 9. It's sure to be a brilliant evening of competition, which with your help will also raise a great total to enable us to change even more young lives in Zambia.
Four teams will compete - one Cecily's Fund team consisting of family and friends of our staff, and three teams from Burford School. They're playing not only for pride but also for a unique trophy and additional awards, including Man of the Match, top goalscorer and best goalkeeping.
The Cecily's Fund team needs your support! Visit our JustGiving page today to make a donation, then post a message for our team. They would love to win the trophy, and your words of encouragement could make all the difference!
We'll be sharing all the action from the six matches online, so be sure to keep an eye on the #zamchallenge hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We'll also be publishing a post-tournament report here on the Cecily's Fund website.
It takes just a few clicks to make your Zam Challenge donation, but your support will make a real difference in the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia. Just £5 is enough to help support our feeding programme at BISO Community School, while £15 helps us support a community savings group. For every £50 we raise, we can support a child at school for a year. So please - donate today, help us make a difference, and cheer on the Cecily's Fund team!
Cecily's Fund is proud to present an exciting new video which provides a perfect introduction to our work - and we'd love for you to help share it.
Made in part to celebrate our 20th anniversary, the new video covers all the major areas of our work in Zambia - from our core efforts to help orphans into school, to our very latest programmes in business skills, savings groups, and more.
The video features a number of first-hand accounts of the impact Cecily's Fund is having on the communities we work with. These include the stories of Jackson (pictured), who has learned how to run his own successful business; Noria, who was helped through school; and Jane, who is just one of the many children we are supporting right now.
Packed with new footage shot in Zambia, our engaging new video also details the origins of Cecily's Fund and features interviews with the inspiring staff who make our work possible on the ground. The video should provide an ideal introduction to anyone unfamiliar with Cecily's Fund, and we hope it will also be of interest to long-standing supporters.
Witney, February 27, 2017
Cecily's Fund Receives DREAMS Innovation Challenge Grant
Aims to Keep Zambian Girls in School and Reduce HIV Infection
Oxfordshire charity Cecily’s Fund is proud to be named as one of 55 recipients of a DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant that will support adolescent girls and young women to become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe. Cecily’s Fund is one of just two U.K. recipients, out of over 800 applicants, to be awarded a DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant, which will be utilized to enhance access and retention in secondary school for girls and young women in Zambia. JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds manager for this award.
The DREAMS Innovations Challenge is an $85 million HIV prevention initiative led by PEPFAR, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (a Johnson & Johnson company), and ViiV Healthcare. The initiative aims to accelerate progress toward achieving a 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in the highest-burden areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries by the end of 2017.
Through this grant, Cecily’s Fund will enhance its work in the city of Chingola, Zambia, where pregnancy can account for as much as 90 percent of girls’ drop-out rate in certain schools. Cecily’s Fund will work to help 900 girls stay in school, reduce their vulnerability to HIV and early pregnancy, and help them fulfil their true potential. Together with Zambian partner organisations, Cecily's Fund will strive to remove the barriers to education, increase family understanding of the value of education, empower mothers and girls to have control over their lives, enhance knowledge of HIV avoidance and tackle poverty.
Over the last two decades, Cecily's Fund has enabled thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia to attend school. This DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the founding of Cecily's Fund, is a major achievement for a U.K. non-governmental organisation (NGO), one that will provide the charity with an exciting opportunity to have its biggest impact yet.
Notes to Editors
- Cecily’s Fund is U.K. registered charity #1071660, based in Witney, Oxfordshire and founded in 1997
- Further information on Cecily’s Fund programmes available at www.cecilysfund.org
- For more information about PEPFAR, please visit www.pepfar.gov