Sarah Banner
Sarah Banner

Engaging Our Supporters: Fundraising Assistant Sarah William’s Personal – And Professional – ellenor Journey

For over 30 years, ellenor has been at the forefront of supporting people living with life-limiting conditions. 

Supported by the generosity of our local Kent and Bexley communities, we work hard to provide care and support to those in need. We are here for young and old alike, and for those in need during an extremely difficult time – working tirelessly to improve their lives, as well as those of their families and loved ones.

Of course, it’s a team effort – and we couldn’t do it without the firm backing of our supporters within the community.

Our supporters provide a vital source of funding: generating the funds we need simply to be able to continue our services. Through creating, organising, and running their own events – and attending those we organise – our supporters raise not only funds, but awareness. Of what ellenor does, where we’re located, who we support, and when we provide that support – 24/7.

Events Assistant Sarah Williams, 46, is part of our Supporter Engagement team. Forming the crucial connective tissue between ellenor and our community support, her role is to help plan, promote and deliver ellenor’s events – which include the Twilight Walk, Lights of Love, and annual Walkathon – and aid our supports in ideating and coordinating their own events and challenges.

In the past, our supporters have skydived, run marathons, organised football matches, and even hosted rock ‘n’ roll nights. 

One local gym owner runs regular fundraising events – including an annual deadlifting contest – while a young Gravesend trio took on the Goggins challenge: a four mile run, every four hours, for 48 hours. Another supporter-led event featured an eight-year-old boy taking to the screen to live stream his video game skills to raise money for ellenor.

Fancy fundraising for us? Pick up the phone, dial the number of our Supporter Engagement team, and it’ll most likely be Sarah on the other end.

Born and raised in Gravesend, Sarah – like many of our supporters in the community – has a long-standing, deeply personal connection with ellenor.

When Sarah was just 18, we looked after her nan as she entered the last two months of her life. We also supported the family throughout – particularly Sarah’s granddad – as they processed and persevered throughout the loss.

“I always remember coming to ellenor in the morning, before work – someone would make me toast, and a cup of tea. I could come whenever I wanted; simply to sit with my nan. It was the most amazing thing, because it was about all of us as a family. Everyone at ellenor made us feel so welcome, and it felt like a home from home for nan as, well.

“After nan died, ellenor became a place we’d continue to visit on a regular basis.”

From there, Sarah and her family’s connection with ellenor only intensified. Her granddad, Bill – a man Sarah fondly describes as a ‘character’, who wore shorts all year round, regardless of the weather – did our walkathon every year following his wife’s passing. He was still participating in the event, even at the age of 85.

Following Bill’s death, Sarah and her family have continued his fundraising legacy – continuing to give back to ellenor in inspiring, inventive ways.

Over the years, Sarah has hosted a barn dance, an Elvis-themed evening, and a rock ‘n’ roll night featuring a live band. She’s cycled 76 gruelling miles for us and, this year, is organising a charity football match – pitting two local teams against each other to raise funds and awareness for ellenor.

So in September 2022 – when the opportunity came knocking, and a position in our Supporter Engagement team opened up – Sarah seized it. It was a natural move, given her close ties to and history with ellenor, on top of her three years’ experience as a carer in the community.

However, those years had left her frustrated at the lack of consistency in – and quality of – the care being delivered. Appalled, essentially, by the shortage of care in the care.

It’s one of the many reasons she loves her new role at ellenor so much – that it’s the complete opposite.

“At ellenor, patients and families are supported in the way they’re supposed to be supported. Which then, in turn, assures you that what you’re doing has value. That everything around you is being run in the right way, that it all means something – and that it’s actually making a difference. At ellenor, the patient is at the heart of everything. That’s how it should be.”

So, how can you get involved with your local hospice, and support ellenor’s work in the community? You can volunteer. Set up and run your own events. Or take on a challenge – especially one with a unique or interesting angle.

Do so, and Sarah promises – you’ll be working with one of the best Supporter Engagement teams in the business.

“I love the team I work with, purely because they’re all so passionate about what they do – what the end goal is. We all know, and are bought into, what we’re here to achieve: enabling people to receive the highest quality care possible.

“I feel proud to work for ellenor, especially because they looked after my nan so well. I feel, here, as though I’m actually able to give something back. It’s a special role, to be able to encourage people we come across within the community to support us. Because that support is so important. We wouldn’t be here without it.”