Monday 6 June 2022

BSBI Finance Manager running to support members in hardship

In the last couple of years, we've heard from several long-term BSBI members experiencing financial difficulties; we put our heads together to find a way to help them and we've created the BSBI Hardship Fund. One of our staff members, BSBI Finance Manager Julie Etherington (that's her on the right) is so keen to support the Hardship Fund that she is preparing to go the extra mile - in fact the extra 21 km. - to raise money towards the Fund. 

I caught up with Julie to find out more but first of all, over to BSBI Fundraising Manager Sarah Woods to tell us how the Hardship Fund idea came about:

Sarah: "The Hardship Fund has come around thanks to a number of groups and individuals at BSBI (including Julie herself) and an overarching belief that short-term financial issues should not mean people are excluded from something they care about – particularly where they might have been part of the fabric of BSBI for years. I think it is a principle that many will agree with, and for many years much has been done to try and keep all members connected with the Society, regardless of circumstances, but the time was right to formalise this slightly more into what has become the Hardship Fund".

Louise: What impact has the Hardship Fund had so far, and have many people benefited? 

Sarah: "I’m happy to say that we’ve been able to approach a number of individuals who’d let us know that they had had to consider their membership in 2022 for exactly the reasons the Fund was created, and we’ve been able to help them bridge the cost of membership and remain with the Society. Given the wider economic picture at the moment, it feels necessary and right that we have been able to put this in place, especially given the contribution so many members give to the life of the Society through volunteering, recording and engaging with our work".

Louise: Our members certainly make amazing contributions to botanical recording and scientific understanding, so anything we can do to support them gets my vote! 

Now, over to you Julie: How long have you been running and have you ever attempted a half-marathon before? 

Julie: "I’ve always been an on / off runner, however, in 2019, I took it up with much more interest in a bid to get fit before turning 50. To me, running is not only to get fit but but now also an opportunity to free my mind for an hour or two, to relax, have fun and a great excuse to get outdoors. I normally don’t take it too seriously & choose not to check times or distances so I surprised myself by spontaneously entering a 10k race in my village in September last year. I loved the buzz of the event so when my running buddy Kate suggested doing a half marathon, the seed had already been planted to believe I could go further … and here I am, running my very first half marathon".

Louise: Wow, so you're really starting to get serious about your running! But have you ever done any kind of sponsored run before? 

Julie: "Although I’ve raised money running before, such as for the well-known Cancer Research Race For Life, I know that smaller charities can sometimes get overlooked so this time seemed the perfect opportunity to support a new and important cause close to my heart - BSBI’s Hardship Fund". 

Louise: We're really glad that you are supporting the Fund, both with this half marathon and by championing the idea over the past few years. And I see that you've had a lovely BSBI T-shirt printed (image above right) to wear on the day! So, what have you been doing to get in training?

Julie: "All sorts of things! Every Monday for the last couple of months, Kate tells me how far we need to run in the week ahead; now in excess of 30km per week. Unfortunately, I have very little discipline when it comes to following a training plan so I tend to instead make it up as I go along. Last month, for example, I did a HIIT session, yoga, ran a little and climbed Helvellyn over Striding Edge (image above left) with a friend on a rare and gloriously blue Lake District day; a perfect & memorable experience".

Louise: That sounds intense! So once the run is over and all the donations have been collected and gone into the Hardship Fund, how will you be relaxing? 

Julie: "Straight after the race - which is on Father’s Day, Sunday 19th June - probably one of the first things I’ll do is to phone my lovely Dad to give him the news of whether I made it over the finish line. He’s given me special dispensation to miss visiting him on Father’s Day this year so I will definitely want to talk to him instead.

Longer term, I will definitely continue to run. I feel very lucky to live in a lovely part of West Lancashire where there are so many quiet lanes, hills and beautiful views to enjoy. Whether I do another half marathon after this remains to be seen, though I suspect I have "the bug" now!" 

Louise: Good luck Julie! If anybody would like to sponsor Julie and help support the BSBI Hardship Fund, here is Julie's Just Giving page. Keep an eye on this page to find out how she got on and how much money was raised for the Fund. And if you are a BSBI member experiencing financial difficulties, take a look at the Hardship Fund webpage where you can find out about the criteria and how to apply.

July update: Julie completed the half marathon and at the final count she had managed to raise more than £1250 for the Hardship Fund - amazing work, Julie! 

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