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The Lancaster University branch of national charity Making Memories held an event in Week 4 which encouraged people to wear pink in celebration of the life of Elaine Pilcher, a founding member of the charity and “the inspiration behind it all”. Established in June 2013, Making Memories aims to help families with young children where one of their parents has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. SCAN spoke to Mathew Gillings, President of LU Making Memories, and Joel Chan, Events Co-Ordinator and Vice President.
[quote]the charity is here to provide, if eligible, funds to help create a ‘memory’[/quote]
Gillings spoke of the purpose of the charity, telling SCAN that “the charity is here to provide, if eligible, funds to help create a ‘memory’. Our work will allow the whole family to spend quality time together, and [give] the child… one final happy memory as a form of legacy. Whilst most families tend to focus on the patient, we take a slightly different approach and concentrate on creating a memory for the whole family – children and all.”
Founding member Elaine Pilcher passed away recently, and Chan described her as “the inspiration behind it all”. “Since its establishment last year, Elaine worked and supported the charity – and the student branch – helping to raise funds and awareness. Elaine herself was a parent, suffering from a terminal illness, whilst still looking after her young child. Through passion and will during her struggle with lung cancer, [she] and her best friend Gail Neville… set up this charity to provide the help and support [for] people in a similar position.” Chan also added that whilst Elaine never went on a holiday or a special trip during his illness, her legacy for her child will be the charity and the Pink Day held in her memory.
LU Making Memories is not strictly a student society and is not currently associated with Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) or any other student union, although they operate as many other societies with a board of student execs that run and overlook the work carried out. The branch was established in September 2013, and works with various groups and societies on campus and beyond. Gillings added that “a large chunk of our time is spent facilitating ‘1 in 100 challenges’, where we ask volunteers to raise £70 each. Naturally, we are able to offer advice and publicity for these challenges… previous participants have held skint sales, bake sales, and someone is even doing a Zumbathon in the next few weeks.”
Chan spoke about their recent event, Pink Day, telling SCAN it “was a national event that invited people to wear pink and raise awareness… it turned out to be a great success with over 300 people joining in all over the country… [it even had] supporters [in] Poland, Canada and India… [who sent] us photographs of themselves in their finest pink.” Chan also added that Pink Day was not about fundraising, it was about raising awareness so that other people who needed help would know who to get in touch with – although they have released a charity single which can be downloaded for £1 on their website store. Chan was keen to emphasise that “Pink Day will be an annual event and we hope that it will get bigger and better each time!”
Gillings, elected President of the group, spoke fondly of his experiences so far and with the Director of the charity: “As soon as Gail Neville told me what her friend was going through… I realised that it was a very special cause that was incredibly close to her heart. Gail had always wanted to start her own charity, and when Elaine was unfortunately diagnosed with lung cancer, it seemed like an apt time to begin. Elaine’s journey really inspired me to make a difference – she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, yet still had the tenacity to power through and assist Gail in establishing Making Memories.”
Upcoming events for LU Making Memories include the Zumbathon on March 22nd, a quiz night in Cleveleys on February 28th and founder Gail Neville speaking at the International Women’s Day at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on March 8th. Gillings revealed “We’ll be running workshops on the day and inviting people to participate in the 1 in 100 challenge. Students from Leeds Met University will be joining us, as they are currently doing a “Making Memories module” in their Project Management class.”
Gillings emphasised that the group are always looking for volunteers to help out at larger events, as well as participating in the smaller fundraising challenges. People interested in becoming a part of Making Memories are encouraged to get in touch, as “we’d be more than happy to discussed potential fundraisers and publicity.” Information for Making Memories can be found on their Twitter page – @M_MemoriesLU – via their Facebook group or their website.
Last of all, Gillings also spoke of his team and his hopes for the future of LU Making Memories, telling SCAN: “Each day I’m reminded what a fantastic group of people I work with. They’re always on the end of the telephone, ready to jump into action and help make a difference. The whole experience has been touching: Gail and Elaine helped to form a group of like-minded individuals who could work together to create something special. We’re all incredibly proud of what Making Memories has become, but this is only just the beginning.”