As a child my father instilled a passion in me for sport and travel, indeed I grew up wanting to be aboard Jacques Cousteau’s vessel Calypso, bravely battling the harsh and open seas. However it was not to be. Instead my career has been an exciting roller coaster of ideas and experiences, running small, boutique, businesses employing no more than 12 people at any one time. In 1990 I began a successful award-winning international branding and design agency which, with much hard-work, fun and devotion, I nurtured for over 25 years.
Whilst waiting to take a brief from the communications team at Great Ormond Street Hospital for their annual report, I noticed a leaflet asking for fundraisers to Trek the Namibian Desert. I didn’t know a soul but I was compelled to sign up for the exploration of a lifetime. It was there that I learnt self-reliance and developed a passion for adventure. The rest, as they say, is history. Next came Machu Picchu. There I was, out of breath, trudging through the pouring rain, my boots squelching the muddy ground that I thought: here am I having the time of my life, raising funds for equipment for Great Ormond Street, just by taking 10 days out of my busy working life. If I can do this, in my small business, then why not others?
As soon as I returned to the studio, I asked my team if anyone would like to take 10 extra days as paid leave in order to make an impact on someone else’s life; my web developer took up my offer and, hey presto, raised enough funds to go to Rwanda and help build a school in one of the poorest rural communities. I remember the pride in his voice when he told me ‘I’ve made a link for life’.
Since then I’ve set up the scheme My Ten Days, an organisation that works with businesses and charities to progress their corporate social responsibility by offering their staff just ten days to do something amazing, either here at home in the UK or overseas. We have had some amazing success stories over the years with family business owners and their employees who have embarked upon a journey that not only changed their lives but the lives of those most in need. I am proud and delighted by each and every one of them.
For our part we now use these 10 days to raise funds to build fresh borehole wells in deepest, rural Uganda. Our campaign WellGood is in partnership with Fields of Life and helps bring water, healthcare and education to those who most desperately require it.. To date we, with many other family businesses have built over 30 borehole wells.
Each well saves the lives of between 200 and 2000 people in a village. Considering that 115 people in Africa die every hour from illnesses due to poor sanitation, hygiene and contaminated water*, I say that we are making an impact for the better and what’s more there is further work we can do. There is no reason why anyone in 2018 should live in poverty, yet thousands suffer daily. Despite losing my first business in 2010, I have continued to contribute to and develop initiatives that help those that are less fortunate than myself. I count my blessings that no matter how bad things get, there are others out there who are facing a much harsher reality. A reality that, if we can, is our duty to alter. Roll on the next 30 wells and while I may never have embarked upon the Calypso, I encourage anyone to cross the seas in the search for altruism.
For more information on how you can give back go to http://www.mytendays.org/
Illustration by Rhian Stone