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Fundraising hero of the month: Sarah Gilbert

How Sarah’s friends and family helped her rocket to Mencap’s top 10 Marathon fundraisers

Sarah Gilbert and friends hugging after their run

On Sunday 26 April Sarah Gilbert will put her body on the line for a cause she is passionate about when she runs her first ever Virgin Money London Marathon for Mencap. We talk to February’s fundraiser of the month about how the support of friends and family was crucial to her successful campaign.

Had you done a lot of running before getting your place at the Virgin Money London Marathon?

Before I began training I’d never run before, ever, and I never thought that I would run a marathon! But running one lets me talk to people about the incredible work Mencap does and I hope that some of those people might be inspired by the charity, and maybe want to be involved in the future.

You’ve raised over £4,500 – what were some of the things you did to encourage people to give?

Because it’s the 40th year of the marathon and it was my 40th birthday recently I thought I’d throw a big party and ask people to donate to my page rather than bring gifts. My friends really helped. One, who is a successful DJ, played for free. I also held an auction and one friend kindly donated their holiday cottage in Bude for four nights. At one point someone was bidding against themselves for an item. So people got into the spirit of it.

And your brother and his wife also did some fundraising on their big day...

Yes, my brother got married in October and they ran a wedding speech sweepstake – guess the length of the father of the bride’s speech – which raised £150 towards my marathon fundraising efforts.

Tell us about the Madonna raffle

Someone I know gave me two Madonna tickets to help with the fundraising. I didn’t want to just sell them on eBay because that wasn’t in the inclusive spirit of my fundraising – most people aren’t able to spend £1,000 on concert tickets. So I held a raffle, selling tickets for £5 each, and it raised £1,000. My colleague very kindly set up a little webpage for the competition - she managed all of it, which was great. My top tip is that if you have friends with skills who can help you, definitely ask for help. People are really keen to be involved.

Any other tips?

Some things might earn loads of money, some things might not, but they are all equally important in terms of having reasons to talk about your charity. My work colleagues put on a pantomime and asked for a donation for entry. I did some carol singing with a local choir at the nearby train station. A colleague and I did a Strictly sweepstake. My kids had a stall on the street selling cups of tea, old books and toys. It comes back to trying to capture the essence of the marathon, rather than just asking people for money. It’s such an exciting day and I want to try to take people on that journey with me.

Do you know how the money you have raised will be spent?

It’s going to be spent at Mencap on projects which bring together children with and without learning disabilities through sport. When somebody meets someone with a learning disability and gets to know them, it breaks down lots of barriers and potential negative attitudes. I think it’s really important that children can do things together and sport is really positive and inclusive.

You can read more about Sarah’s fundraising and donate to her cause by visiting her Virgin Money Giving Page.

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