�250,000 appeal for Norwich's Big C cancer charity

Caroline McGreggorThe Evening News launched an ambitious appeal for Big C back in 2000 to raise �250,000. Caroline McGregor (then Caroline Jenkinson) looks back on what became an action-packed and eventful year.Caroline McGreggor

The Evening News launched an ambitious appeal for Big C back in 2000 to raise �250,000. Caroline McGregor (then Caroline Jenkinson) looks back on what became an action-packed and eventful year.

Rodeo bulls, Ferraris and crazy foam. It's an unlikely combination, but one that helped the Evening News achieve one of its greatest appeal successes - raising �250,000 for Big C back in 2000.

When we launched the appeal on January 14 that year, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Norwich-based charity, we had no doubts that our ever-generous readers would support us all the way, especially as almost every family has been touched by cancer at some point.

But could we raise such a huge amount in less than 12 months? It seemed a daunting task, especially for me as the reporter who was put in charge of the appeal.

Luckily we had two big things in our favour. One was Big C's general manager at the time, Mary White, who worked tirelessly throughout the appeal to ensure the donations and events kept coming and were put firmly in the public eye.

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The other was the boundless imagination of the fundraisers, who ensured that not only did the money keep rolling in, but that there was never a dull moment.

My personal highlight was getting to go round the Snetterton circuit in a Ferrari, although sadly I wasn't driving, to promote a track day that eventually netted us several thousand pounds.

Another big success was the It's a Knockout event, backed by many local companies who sent teams along to compete in a series of wet and wild games. By bounding across giant inflatables and diving headfirst into pits of crazy foam (that particular sight of my now husband is burnt hard into my memory) we raised �7,000 from the day - well worth the indignity of the Evening News team coming stone cold last!

Then there was the abseil down the side of the University of East Anglia's arts building, the rodeo bull riding challenge set up at the then newly-opened Riverside complex and the pancake race in the city centre.

We had a beer brewed on our behalf - Big News from Buffy's - plus concerts, dinners and parachute jumps. Pubs, clubs, companies, stores and schools all got involved by organising events.

Just as important were the hundreds of individual donations which we received. Many people chose to collect donations for the appeal in lieu of gifts for weddings and anniversaries.

The money just kept piling up as the months rolled on - and by December 20 2000 we were able to announce that we had reached our target.

It was a fantastic success not only for us at the Evening News and all the staff at Big C, but for all the cancer patients in Norfolk and Suffolk who have been helped by the money you raised - either through access to treatment and equipment or by the research carried out at the UEA.

Five years later we joined forces with the Big C again to raise funds for the building of the cancer support and information centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

This was also a success and proof positive, if proof were ever needed, just how much the people of Norfolk cherish their local cancer charity.

How you can help:

�Donate to Big C - online at big-c.co.uk or call 01603 619900.

�Support a Big C charity shop - there is a huge selection of bridalwear at the Timberhill branch, vintage clothes in Great Yarmouth, children's wear and toys at Castle Meadow and general good at the Beccles, Sheringham and Wymondham branches.

�Volunteer at the charity shops or fundraising events, or organise your own fundraisers.

�Recycle your old mobile phones, printer cartridges, stamps and foreign coins for Big C (for details, visit big-c.co.uk).

�Encourage your company or workmates to support Norfolk and Waveney's dedicated cancer charity.

�Big C has raised �15 million since it began in 1980, money dedicated to the people of Norfolk and Waveney. The charity funds four key areas: equipment, care, support and research.

Tomorrow: How Big C's centre helps patients and their families cope with a cancer diagnosis.