Greetings to you all in the year of the Belarusian Children’s Hospice’s 20th birthday! In October BCH celebrated with a big barbecue in the garden of its Minsk building and at the end of November they held a fundraising ball.
In the UK, Friends of BCH has had a good fundraising year, raising £57,959 plus an unexpected and very gratefully received legacy of £25,000. As we are still heavily committed to funding staff salaries in 2015, while BCH is busy raising money for its new building, this windfall will give us a flying start.
This year, Friends of BCH has helped pay the salaries of 34 of the 44 members of staff at BCH which means that 170 children of the 220 cared for in 2014 were supported directly by you. Another pleasing fact is that, from being a British-only organisation, we now have regular US, Russian and Belarusian supporters. Within Belarus, public knowledge about ‘What is a children’s hospice?’ is growing due to a great deal of PR work by BCH.
Friends of BCH also paid for the BCH head of fundraising and PR, Elena Anisimava, to spend time at Richard House Children’s Hospice in London (thanks to director Peter Ellis and head of fundraising Maria Barry). It also paid for spare parts needed for two artificial Ventilators and facilitated a trip to Minsk by Christopher Cordess, a UK psychiatrist, to start working with BCH staff to prevent burn-out. I visited BCH three times in 2014 to chair the BCH Advisory Council, to have meetings on finance, strategy and current work and to cheer on Anton Simon in his second triathlon to raise money for BCH.
Last year, Anton cut a lone figure in the swimming pool and running but this August he had three Belarusians for company which was very gratifying! The British ambassador again participated in the cycle ride. Anton and I gave several interviews on Belarusian television and to the press, explaining to the nonplussed Belarusian public how sponsored charity events work: it was a difficult concept to get across. The subsequent appearance of new Belarusian private donors must mean that the message is being heard.
While in Belarus, I visited the hospice’s summer complex in the country and saw the new house built partly with money donated by Friends of BCH. It was being used by lots of enthusiastic, disabled children having a wonderful holiday with their volunteer assistants.
Other Friends of BCH supporters have also put on their sports kit to raise money and our thanks go to David Curtis (Bristol Half Marathon) and Aksana Barsukova (Stockholm Marathon).
We are pleased to have a new patron: Vasili Karpiak is a young Belarusian tenor and post-grad student at RCM in London. We expect to see Vasili’s career take off. He has a wonderful voice and, luckily for us, is keen to do whatever he can to help BCH. He joins our Russian patron, international pianist Alexander Ardakov, TV and radio journalist Kate Adie, humanitarian activist Baroness Caroline Cox and Peter Harper, a founding trustee who continues to help us. I would like to thank them all.
None of this would have been possible without the support we get from you, our generous and wonderful supporters. THANK YOU SO MUCH! And from Minsk, a huge СПАСИБО! (‘Thank you’ in Russian). With your money, miracles are being worked to bring sunshine, laughter, dignity, pain control and medical care to many lovely children.
Wishing you all a blessed and Happy Christmas and may all your wishes come true in 2015!
Daryl Ann Hardman