Open Thinkering


Tag: charity

No more #LettingGrow

Update: I’ve heard back from 90% of the people who donated to #LettingGrow, all of whom have said they don’t want me to ask Cancer Research to return their donations. Given how overwhelming the response has been, and the difficulty of getting a refund for people, I’ll only now do so if asked specifically. I hope that’s OK!

It is with huge regret that I announce that I cannot continue with my #LettingGrow campaign. I had fully intended to not cut my hair or beard for the entirety of 2013 but, for reasons personal and professional, I shaved my hair and beard last night.

I am looking into ways to refund everyone who so kindly donated to Cancer Research UK. However, JustGiving makes it extremely difficult to do so:

Online Giving – we run and maintain a website that processes donations on behalf of the charities featured on it. For this service, and the support we provide to them and their supporters, charities pay us a transaction fee of up to 5% on the donation. Because we promptly pay donations to charities, we regret that we can only refund a donation if the charity expressly requests it, and they can pay us back. Please get in touch with the charity first.

During the period of growing my hair and beard, I learned many things about myself and others, not least that:

  • people are much more likely to strike up random conversations
  • international travel is a lot more difficult when you look significantly different from your passport
  • I should have talked through my plans my nearest and dearest before taking the plunge

A sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated. I pledge to refund everyone who donated, even if it means it coming out of my own money.


Letting Grow.

UPDATE: #LettingGrow is now over (explanation here) Thanks for the donations!

TL;DR version: I’m raising money for cancer research in 2013. I’ve shaved my head and beard and won’t be cutting either until 2014. You can donate here: (I’m aiming to raise £7,866 – or one pound for every Twitter follower I had on 01/01/2013!)

We’ve had better Christmases.

The week before the big day our one year-old daughter tripped, fell and gashed her head. We rushed to hospital, got it bandaged up and she had to have stitches under a general anaesthetic the next morning. The doctors and nurses at Newcastle RVI were fantastic.

Then, on Christmas Eve she vomited. And then kept vomiting every half an hour. Then my son got it. Then my wife. Finally, I got it – although (mercifully) not nearly as severely as the rest of the family. We’re all just recovering now.

When you’re ill with something like a vomiting bug it’s comforting to know that in a few days you’ll be back to normal. It’s a temporary thing, something to endure for a short period of time. What the experience brought home to me, however, was what the festive period must be like when you don’t have an end in sight. When you don’t necessarily know that everything’s going to be OK. And, to be fair, even for those who are confident that their chemotherapy is going to work, undergoing it is an ordeal far worse than we experienced.

Let’s beat cancer in our lifetime. Let’s raise some money for Cancer Research.

Usually I trim my hair and beard about once a week. But in 2013 I won’t be cutting it at all. Symbolically, I’ve razored it all down so there’s no trace of hair anywhere on my head. It’ll grow steadily over the course of the year and by the end of it I’ll probably have to tie it back.

Every time I write a blog post I’ll update the photograph of myself here as well as my avatar on Twitter. There’ll be a constant reminder in both places to donate to Cancer Research. Even if only one in ten of the 90,000 unique visitors who came to this site last year gave just one pound we’d raise £9,000. That’s more than the £7,866 target I’ve set – one pound for each of my Twitter followers as of 01/01/2013.

So, if you or someone you know has been affected by cancer, please do what you can:

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