Local dad’s decade-long fundraising journey hits £30k for Noah’s Ark
Steve Kelly’s bereavement drove him towards his new birthday fundraising passion
When recently bereaved dad, Steve Kelly from Enfield, was sitting in the pub shortly before his 40th birthday, he realised that his friends were about to spend lots of money on his birthday event… money that could be spent on something closer to his heart.
Steve and his wife Rachel were supported by Noah’s Ark during the life of their daughter Jessica, who died in 2010 aged six. So when Steve decided to ditch the traditional birthday bash for something more charitable, Noah’s Ark was the cause that immediately sprung to mind.
From 2010 onwards, Steve has organised an annual fundraising event around the time of his own birthday, which is the same time of year as Jessica’s own birthday. This year’s event, a musical bingo night, marked the tenth anniversary of the birthday fundraising extravaganza; it’s tipped Steve’s contributions to the charity to over £30k. In the past he’s run events such as wine-tasting, casino nights and race nights.
Noah’s Ark supported the family from the charity’s inception in 2007. Initially it was through a Play Therapist who supported Jessica, who was tube-fed, couldn’t sit up and required constant support, including through a vent or oxygen to breathe. Steve describes the therapist as “a ball of energy who became Jessica’s best friend.”
When Jessica’s younger brother Jamie was born, once again Noah’s Ark became a fundamental support to the family. A volunteer came to look after Jamie as a baby whilst Steve or Rachel was getting Jessica ready for bed. As Steve says, “that extra pair of hands was invaluable”. The family were also regular attendees at the charity’s family days, including a memorable day for the whole family at London Zoo.
Jessica died in 2010 and it was Noah’s Ark’s volunteers who came round to the family’s house to tidy up and make it nice for guests to come round after the funeral, as well as looking after the children whilst the proceedings were taking place.
As Steve says “From that day on, Noah’s Ark felt like a part of our family. I had to do something to help, to give something back. Putting on a small fundraiser each year was the least I could do; Noah’s Ark were there for us at our lowest point and helped us through”.
With a decade of fundraising behind him, Steve’s total has now reached over £30k and he has no plans to stop now: “It’s a great way to bring my friends together once a year for an amazing cause that helped my family so much. My friends and acquaintances have been so generous; we couldn’t have done it without them!”.
Alison Goodman, Director of Fundraising at Noah’s Ark, said: “It’s so humbling that Steve and Rachel have continued to do this fundraising, year after year. I could not be prouder that this family, initially supported by the charity, have become such amazing ambassadors. They’ve turned their story into something immensely positive for so many other children and families”.
In honour of Steve and Rachel’s fundraising contribution, 31st January each year – Jessica’s birthday – will be marked by the charity as the family’s ‘pay for a day’, meaning that their contribution will run the organisation for that day.