Fundraisers at J D Wetherspoon have shaken off the myth of 13 being an unlucky number by raising a spectacular £13 million to support young cancer patients.
The money was raised in support of CLIC Sargent, a support charity which fights for young lives struck by cancer.
The milestone means that fundraisers in J D Wetherspoon pubs across the UK are now raising as much as £1.6 million every year. The most recent million was raised in just seven months.
Representatives of J D Wetherspoon were thanked by two teenagers who are supported by the charity: Tyler Hart and Tilly Somervell.
Tyler is coming to the end of an intensive course of chemotherapy, having been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
His mother, Sue, said: “I met a CLIC Sargent social worker, Jan Roberts, who offered us a grant of £170 – this was a massive help, with our debts piling up. We got on really well and, if I had any worries, I could text her or phone her. When I was struggling, I could just talk to her easily – and it really helped.”
Tilly’s family stayed at Paul’s House, CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home in London, during her treatment for thyroid cancer. This helped them to avoid a regular three-hour round trip.
Her mother, Jo, said: “CLIC Sargent feels like another line of defence. It’s all a battle – and sometimes, you don’t feel like fighting. Without CLIC Sargent, it would have been very lonely. With their support, I don’t have to be a one-woman fighter; I don’t have to do it alone.”
Major recent fundraising events have included the annual Kick five-a-side football tournament, in which over 500 pub teams took part and raised more than £400,000. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been raised by staff and customers taking part in a variety of events throughout the year, including quizzes, runs, raffles and challenges.
When the partnership was formed, 14 years ago, this bumper total was just a speck on the horizon. When pub-chain founder Tim Martin fortuitously found himself sitting on a train opposite the then chief executive of the charity, the pair struck up a conversation and were inspired to launch a partnership, with an initial target of £500,000. The partnership continued to blossom, with staff beating targets year on year.
Tim Martin said: “We are immensely proud of the partnership with CLIC Sargent. When it started, we had no idea how much we would raise. Now, we know that our hard-working and committed staff and customers will have made a real difference for so many families struck by cancer.
“The £13-million total is fantastic, but we know that the fight for young lives continues and want to help CLIC Sargent to be there in the future for young cancer patients and their families.”
Jemma Syms, CLIC Sargent’s corporate events executive, said: “This £13-million fundraising achievement is testament to the commitment and hard work of the J D Wetherspoon staff – and customers. It is an incredible total and will help CLIC Sargent to fight for young lives against cancer.
“When a family hears the doctor say “it’s cancer,” life can stop. From that point, CLIC Sargent is there, providing vital, frontline services, like social workers and financial grants, to help families to limit the damage cancer causes – beyond their health.
“The partnership between J D Wetherspoon and CLIC Sargent is the longest-running corporate partnership in the charity’s history – and we have been blown away by the ongoing dedication and enthusiasm shown by J D Wetherspoon’s staff to help CLIC Sargent in the fight for young lives struck by cancer.”
CLIC Sargent supports families through a variety of services, including social workers, nurses, key workers, play specialists and financial grants. For more information: www.clicsargent.org.uk