When my son started planning how to tackle a challenge to raise some money for charity I had no idea that his actions would also form the beginnings of a wonderful local community.

Ollie is starting secondary school in September and his new school sets the children five challenges during the summer before they join. One of these challenges is to raise money for charity. For Ollie the choice of charity was never an issue; he’s seen me supporting St Mary’s Hospice on many occasions. Two years ago I set up ‘A Natural Undertaking’ with my friend and colleague so I’ve had plenty of opportunity, from the perspective of an undertaker, to see the great work that the Hospice carries out; I am a founding member of BrumYODO, a community group aimed at helping people to have more open and honest conversations about death and dying – the Hospice is also a member of this group; but St Mary’s Hospice also looked after both of my Great Aunts when they died so I know first hand about the valuable work that it does.

So Ollie was always certain about the charity he wanted to support – the main challenge was deciding how to raise the money. And then one day he said he wanted to arrange a game of cricket in the park with all our new neighbours (we moved house 12 months ago and had only got to know a few of the people living near us).

It seemed like such a brilliant idea – and then reality hit; we were going to have to knock on doors, introduce ourselves and hope that everyone else thought it was a good idea too.

As it turned out, all the people we spoke to thought it was a great idea and really appreciated our efforts. Ollie had created charts to plot everyone’s availability, (being the summer holidays we always knew a large proportion of people would be on holiday) we knocked on a lot of doors and it took quite a bit longer than we planned because we always ended up chatting a while with everyone. But in the end we had a long list of email addresses so we could communicate the date and details more easily, and we posted flyers through the doors of those we were unable to meet. Eventually the date was set for 6th August and we just hoped enough people would meet us in the park.

The day of the event arrived and we needn’t have worried, in spite of many people being on holiday around 30 people arrived to meet and play cricket. Many people had baked cakes so we had plenty to eat and drink. Ollie raised an amazing £176 for St Mary’s Hospice that day and also managed to bring together a community that is keen to get together again more often. Who knows there may even be a street party on the cards.

Thank you Fran for sharing your son's brilliant fundraising story and we hope your community continues to grow and grow. If you've been inspired by Fran and Ollie and would like to share your story, please email Rich, our Digital Officer using [email protected], or if you'd like to fundraise to support local families living with terminal illness, visit our fundraising section!