Enabling the people of Milton Keynes to maximise their fundraising efforts for their local hospital is Vanessa Holmes.
Vanessa has been the Head of Fundraising for Milton Keynes Hospital Charity for the past three years, in which time she has overseen two major fundraising appeals – and recently launched a third for the children’s ward.
Little Lives saw £250,000 raised to refurbish the Neonatal Unit, including the expansion of the cot area and redevelopment of the parents’ living quarters.
More recently A Touch of Pink raised £80,000 to buy a digital x-ray machine for the Breast Unit, improving the experience of patients undergoing procedures to diagnose breast cancer.
Now, with the most recent addition to the fundraising team – the charity mascot, Leo the Lion – Leo’s Appeal is raising £200,000 for the children’s ward.
Vanessa said: “Fundraising appeals are great at getting staff at the hospital and people in the community involved.
“Lots of people want to make a donation but don’t know how to go about it, so I‘m often the first point of contact.
“I see myself as an enabler. If somebody wants to make a donation or hold a fundraising event I can support that and make it happen.
“We are lucky that so many patients have a positive experience at Milton Keynes Hospital and want to help. Having a child treated on the neonatal unit or children’s ward is such a personal and life-changing experience and the parents are so grateful for the care which saved their child’s life that they want to give something back.”
Having graduated in English Literature, Vanessa worked for Asthma UK, the Stroke Association, the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) and the Open University, before joining Milton Keynes Hospital.
Prior to her appointment, there was no fundraiser at Milton Keynes Hospital and any money raised was done on an ad hoc basis with staff raising as much as they could but with limited time and resources to do so.
In her first year in post, the amount of money coming in doubled. At the same time, so did the level of administration required.
Vanessa said: “I have a great team of volunteers who regularly come in and help me with the administration or attend events or cheque presentations on my behalf. They are fantastic.”
In addition to the volunteers, a fundraising officer is now in post, which allows Vanessa more time to spend securing grants from charitable trusts.
She said: “Crafting applications and making sure we meet the criteria is very time consuming, so having our fundraising officer Jenny gives me the chance to focus on this and research different charitable trusts and foundations. Ultimately, this will enable us to enhance services even more.”
Milton Keynes Hospital Charity is currently supported by Midsummer Place and Kingston Retail Park. Vanessa hopes to further boost income from the corporate sector as well as increase the fundraising presence in the hospital itself.
For Vanessa, the highlights of her job are meeting so many different people in the hospital and community, the creative side of the appeals and organising events.
She said: “I love the events, they give me a buzz. Three days into my job I was tasked with picking up the organisation of a gala ball for the Little Lives Appeal just two months later. Those sort of things normally take nine to twelve months of planning but the event was a success - it was nice standing back and seeing everyone having a great time.”