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Causes around the world special to Ardonagh colleagues receive £49,000+ in ACT grants

Throughout the year, ACT supports the people, causes and communities that matter to Ardonagh colleagues through the ACT Community Grant programme – which provides the opportunity for employees across the Group to apply for up to £5,000 (or equivalent currency) towards a charity special to them.

Last year, ACT provided more than £155,000 in grants to causes put forward by our people – and in 2023, we’re on track to give back even more.

Today, we share the 13 brilliant charities being supported by ACT’s second round of grants for this year. Once again, the grants are going towards a variety of causes, ranging from brain tumour research in Australia to funding a new library for young people and supporting athletes attending this year’s World Dwarf Games.

Read the stories behind each of the projects that have successfully received funding and why our colleagues nominated them.

Supporting innovative genomics testing to help patients with sarcoma cancer
Peter MacCullum Cancer Foundation, Caidan’s Reach project

Nominated by Con Tsobanpoulos, EDA – Envest, Ardonagh Australia

Caidan’s Reach is a project backed by the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre. Celebrating the life of Caidan, the fundraiser funds fund vital sarcoma cancer research – with the aim of accelerating the search for a cure.

Peter Mac is Australia’s only public hospital solely dedicated to cancer and the country’s largest cancer research group – a team of over 700 people making breakthroughs in cancer care.

The cause is closely connected to Envest colleague and Caidan’s uncle, Con. Caidan was just 22 and in her first year of teacher training when she passed away from a rare form of sarcoma cancer. So far, over $180,000 has been raised in her name, which has gone towards Pan Mac’s research, as well as creating a programme called ONTRACK which supports the educational needs of young people with cancer.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will go towards genomics testing, which involves testing a patient’s cancer’s DNA code to understand how the genes have changed to cause the illness. This information is used to develop specific, targeted drugs for that particular cancer.

Caidan Potter, young girl with long brown hair
Caidan Potter, whose fundraiser in her memory has raised over $180,000 to date.
Sarcoma cancer is an emerging rare cancer, prevalent in adolescents and young adults. Throughout her 12-month battle, Caidan put herself through significant pain and discomfort to allow her treating oncologists at the Peter Mac Cancer Centre to conduct extensive and intrusive research on her in a search for an understanding and cure. Caidan was in her first year of being a primary school teacher when she passed away and wanted to leave a legacy to help other young people who became stricken by this rare cancer. She put herself through this research and made enormous sacrifices to help others in the future and to hopefully one day find a cure.
Con Tsobanpoulos, EDA – Envest, Ardonagh Australia

Supporting Team GB at this year’s world games in Germany
Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk)

Nominated by Emma Scott, IBA & Client Money, Ardonagh Advisory

Inclusivity and accessibility is a key issue in sport. Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk) promotes and develops sporting opportunities for anyone living with dwarfism and supports people to compete at a national and global level.

This year sees the World Dwarf Games take place in Germany from July-August. Many of the athletes are entirely self-funded, so DSAuk is instrumental in supporting them to take to the world stage. The world games is the pinnacle of dwarf sports, as for many there is no suitable Paralympic pathway. Over the week, 14 sports are represented – and Team GB has their eyes on the top of the medals table.

This grant is particularly special, as it honours the memory of Advisory colleague, Francis Cowen. Francis was in the IBA team and passed away suddenly aged just 24 in April. He was a passionate athlete and was due to take part in the GB team – the 80th team member – in Frankfurt, as well as the Paralympics in 2024.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will go towards training sessions and kit for the athletes in the lead-up to the world games – in recognition of the difference Francis and so many other athletes have to inspire people of all abilities to get involved in sport.

Our colleague Francis Cowen tragically passed away earlier this year. Together, we are planning to raise as much money as we can in honour of our friend and colleague. We have a group who walking the Yorkshire three-peaks and the IBA Social committee are arranging a charity event for the whole department to come together – to allow us to process the loss and celebrate his life by raising money for one of the charities close to Francis’s heart, Dwarf Sports Association UK.
Emma Scott, IBA & Client Money, Ardonagh Advisory

Establishing a new men’s mental health group to provide a safe space to talk and connect
In Sam’s Name

Nominated by Deborah Pickwell, Retail MGA, Ardonagh Retail

Based in Nottinghamshire, In Sam’s Name supports men from any walk of life in the surrounding community to look after their mental health. The charity was founded in the memory of Sam Fisher, who pass away in 2021. The charity encourages men to speak up and speak out, tackling the stigma around mental health.

The charity has established a successful group in Worksop, and now they’re looking to expand their reach. The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund all set-up costs for a new group to form in Retford, to broaden the charity’s services to more men in the county.

The cause is very close to the heart of Deborah, who has experienced the impact of mental health in her own family – and seen first-hand the benefits In Sam’s Name has delivered.

A group of men and three dogs, about to go on a walk in the countryside.
In Sam’s Name group out for a walk together, or ‘Walk and Talk’ as they call it.
My son has suffered with his mental health for a number of years. Since he started attending ‘In Sam’s Name’, three has been a marked improvement in how he feels and how he handles things. He has said that even as he feels better himself, he will continue to attend the group meetings, so that he can help others who are struggling.
Deborah Pickwell, Retail MGA, Ardonagh Retail

Enabling SEN dancers to celebrate their skills
Darby’s Dancers

Nominated by Paul Banyard, Towergate Health & Protection, Ardonagh Advisory

Darby’s Dancers is an American Charity which has been collaborating with dance studios across the UK to provide tailored dance classes for young people with special educational needs (SEN) – and Hythe Studio in Hampshire is one of these seven dance studios who have teamed up with the charity.

Darby, who the charity was founded in memory of, was a tenacious young girl who loved dance. She was born with Down Syndrome, a heart defect and leukemia, but this never held her back. The same spirit informs everything Darby’s Dancers does to ensure other children can experience the fun of dance.

Towergate Health & Protection colleague, Paul, has a very close connection to the charity, as his daughter has been one of teaching assistants who supports the SEN classes.

The £1,000 grant will fund further sessions with a dedicated SEN dance tutor, as well as the dance studio’s end-of-year show, which will see SEN and non-SEN students come together to perform.

A group of young people who take part in the SEN dance classes.
Just some of the Darby’s Dancers SEN students, including Paul’s daughter (very left) who assists teaching the classes.
My daughter has been part of the dance studio since 2016 and is now one of the teaching assistants who supports the classes. The studio has had a huge positive impact on her – and those she now helps as an assistant – in discipline, determination and confidence. It has a positive impact on everyone who attends.
Paul Banyard, Towergate Health & Protection, Ardonagh Advisory

Funding six weeks of new research to find a cure for a fatal brain tumour

Nominated by Luke Eagle, Aviso Broking – Envest, Ardonagh Australia

DIPG is a rare, fast-growing and fatal brain tumour, diagnosed in children. Currently, there are no treatments, but RUN DIPG are on a mission to move towards one.

The charity was founded in memory of Josephine, who was diagnosed at just two years old. Her parents, Phoebe and Matt were in the unique position, being a GP and biomedical scientist respectively. To understand the condition, Matt’s own cancer-research group at Australia’s University of Newcastle set about a creating their own programme of study into DIPG.

Josephine passed away in 2019, aged 4, but Matt and Phoebe parents continue her legacy – spearheading research into DIPG and support for affected families.

Envest colleague, Luke, is Josephine’s uncle and a founding board member of the charity. He has been involved with RUN DIPG since day one, and just like Josephine’s parents, is determined to help the families and communities impacted by DIPG.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund six weeks of vital research at University of Newcastle. Over the past five years, the research group have discovered and tested two experimental therapies, and the continued research is essential to progress towards finding a treatment.

Luke Eagle in a black thsirt, running for RUNDIPG fundraiser
Luke at this year’s Sun Run, raising funds and awareness for RUNDIPG.
In the space of five years, Prof Dun and his team have discovered, analysed, tested, and transitioned two experimental anti-DIPG therapies from bench to bedside. Having experienced the devastation this has on a family firsthand; this cause is very close to my heart. My involvement with RUN DIPG remains ongoing, as we have not yet found a therapy that provides kids a chance at better survival or that provides hope to families in such a hopeless situation – but with projects like this, I hope we will get there.
Luke Eagle, Aviso Broking – Envest, Ardonagh Australia

Providing life-changing fistula surgery to women in developing countries
Operation Fistula

Nominated by Ellie Sharp, Operations, Ardonagh Global Partners

Many people will never have heard of fistulas. This incredibly painful injury can be sustained by women during childbirth, and without proper medical treatment can endanger the woman’s and baby’s life or lead to debilitating, long-term pain – with women in countries with less access to proper health services being most at risk.

Each year, globally, up to 100,000 women are affected by obstetric fistula. Operation Fistula aims to end this condition for all women – translating to over 1 million women in 55 countries. Starting out tin 2020, that charity enabled 345 operations in two countries, since then this has scaled to almost 4,000 surgeries in 22 countries.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund 34 operations for women in need of urgent treatment. The funding is used by surgeons connected to the charity, so they can ensure it is used in the most effective way depending on the country’s and hospital’s specific needs – whether that’s nurses, surgical supplies or anaesthetic.

After learning more about Operation Fistula, Ardonagh Global Partners has got behind the cause. Ee were moved in several ways on a personal level from a woman’s perspective but also how impressed we were with the innovative approach. The surgery success rate is 90% and is only around $200 to administer. The surgery not only cures women with fistula, but the data insights are also helping to address gender inequality and creating strategies around education on fistula more broadly
Ellie Sharp, Operations, Ardonagh Global Partners

Giving children with cancer and their families a space to recharge

Nominated by Mary Ball, Arachas, Ardonagh Europe

Located in County Kildare, Ireland, Barretstown offers free, specially designed breaks for children with serious illnesses and their families. They look after the physical and emotional wellbeing of young people, and their camps provide a space to try new experiences and make friends, all with 24-hour on site medical care.

Arachas colleague, Mary, has been a supporter Barretstown ever since it helped her friend’s son, Ben, who had leukaemia. Whilst undergoing treatment, Ben was supported by Barretstown, as well as being a volunteer. After passing away, Ben has continued to be a huge inspiration behind the charity and every year ‘Ben for Barretstown’ sees people come together to fundraise for the cause.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will enable two children or families to stay at Barretstown for a camp – providing an opportunity to spend time together as a family and with friends.

A group of people in blue tshirts and holding photos of Ben as they prepare to take part in a run.
Barretstown supporters at the local fundraising run – part of the annual ‘Ben for Barretstown’ – holding faces of Ben, as money for the charity is raised in his memory, including Mary, left holding Ben’s photo.
Ben's sister, Ava, and mum, Orla, holding photos of Ben.
Ben’s sister, Ava, and mum, Orla, proudly taking part in 'Ben for Barretstown’.
I first learned about Barretstown when one of my best friend's son, Ben, was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was just 12. Sadly, Ben passed away when he was 16. Throughout his illness, Ben helped Barretstown with fundraising, so our group Ben for Barretstown continue what he started - bringing fun and laughter to children's lives in his name. I’ve been involved with ‘Ben for Barretstown’ fundraiser from the very beginning in 2017. We have fundraised every year, and to date have raised over €80,000 in valuable funds for the amazing Barretstown.
Mary Ball, Arachas, Ardonagh Europe

Replacing the roof of a Scout community hub
Old Catton Scouts

Nominated by Rachael Friend, Hugh J Boswell, Ardonagh Advisory

For many young people, Scouting is a fantastic opportunity to connect, learn new skills and make a positive contribution to society. Old Catton Scouts in Norwich, Eastern England, runs groups four nights a week for over 100 young people aged six through to 18.

The hut they rely on has reached a point where it must be replaced. They have worked hard to raise £30,000 so far and the £2,500 grant from ACT will enable the group towards the total target they need to get the works done. Without these vital renovations, the hut is otherwise at risk of closing.

There are two reasons why this cause is important to me. My son has benefited from being part of the Scouts group. He has struggled with his learning and social skills and the group has provided a safe space for him where he is seen and feels equal to the other children at the group allowing him to grow in confidence. In recognition of this, my husband has joined as one of the leaders to give back to the group for what they have done for our son.
Rachael Friend, Hugh J Boswell, Ardonagh Advisory

Supporting a school’s new library to empower a love of reading
North Fawdon Primary School

Nominated by James Elliott, Ardonagh Central Services, Ardonagh Advisory

North Fawdon Primary School serves some of the most deprived areas of Newcastle-upon-Tyne – one of the highest 20% nationally in the UK. The school is embarking on the creation of a new school library, to support pupils not just academically, but emotionally too. The library will enable children to access a huge range of books and resources and provide much-needed investment in reads, plus also offer a welcoming space for children and their families to access additional educational support.

The school have already raised £16,000 to fit the library, and the £2,500 grant from ACT will go towards a range of fiction and non-fiction books, including D&I connected fiction, graphic novels and poetry, as well as a story telling chair to bring the space to life for all that use it.

A digital mock up of the new library
A digital mock-up of how the new library will look, once completed.
North Fawdon Primary School caters for some of the most vulnerable children in the North East of England, many of whom come from areas of Newcastle-upon-Tyne with high levels of deprivation and poverty. The school does not have a proper library or a stock of high-quality reading books and other reading materials for the children to support their learning, and the funding from the Ardonagh Community Trust will help to provide that through the library project which aims to open in September 2023. All children should have access to a quality education which is properly supported and funded, and I believe that books and libraries are a vital to achieving that.
James Elliott, Ardonagh Central Services, Ardonagh Advisory

Honouring a friend and doing more to help others with brain tumours
Brain Tumour Research

Nominated by Ashley Hammond, Group Communications, Ardonagh Group Functions

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. Despite this, Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK focused on finding a cure for all types of brain tumours.

At the start of 2020, Liam, a friend of Ardonagh Group Communications colleague, Ashely Hammond, was diagnosed with an aggressive tumour. His friends and local community in Manchester have rallied ever since to support him and raise funds towards the charity. From walking Liam’s dog, to taking on all kinds of fundraising challenges, the people around him have gone above and beyond – and raised over £45,000 since he was diagnosed.

The £5,000 will fund two days of vital brain tumour research at some of the UK’s leading universities, including the study of childhood tumours, therapy development and the impact of diet.

All of our friends who know Liam through meeting at our community bar are 100% committed to keeping his spirit of giving alive. There are many events planned already for later in the year to further fundraise for this cause so close to Liam, his family’s and now our hearts.
Ashley Hammond, Group Communications, Ardonagh Group Functions

Ensuring a charity’s vital minibus can stay safe
Ferriers Barn

Nominated by Iain Johnston, Lorega, Ardonagh Advisory

Ferriers Barn has been a part of the Bures community in Essex since the 1970, providing a day centre for adults with a range of disabilities. It offers a welcoming space where members can meet new people, take part in activities and learn new skills.

The charity’s specially adapted minibus is vital to enable people to access the charity’s site and services – transporting members to and from their home on a daily basis. The £5,000 grant will enable new secure doors to be fitted so that the charity can continue to run its services with peace of mind, knowing their minibus is stored in a safe place.

I have been giving to Ferriers Barn, a charity providing respite for adults with learning difficulties for some time. They operate entirely with volunteers and is such a large part of the local village community. This grant will make such a difference and ensure it can carry on doing so into the future.
Iain Johnston, Lorega, Ardonagh Advisory

Creating an outdoor classroom to support learning and wellbeing
Defford Cum Besford First School Friends Association

Nominated by Becky Jones, HWF, Ardonagh International

Defford cum Besford First School is a small rural school with just over 60 pupils. One of their key learning facilities is the outdoor classroom, which provides an opportunity to support both education and wellbeing, and a different way of learning.

The school has already secured £1,000 towards the outdoor classroom, and the £3,000 grant from ACT will allow them to further improve the area with seating, a den, storage, and even a mud kitchen!

Outdoor education enables an approach to learning and development which can help many students, especially pupils with additional needs.

Young girl climbing in a tree in the forest school.
Becky’s daughter enjoying the outdoor space the school use as part of their Forest School area.
My three children all attend the school and enjoyed the outdoor learning offered, but particularly my eldest son who is autistic. In his early years education, he found it hard to access formal learning and often spent time in the outdoor areas. Through his love of the outdoors, the team were able to build a firm connection with him and work towards accessing learning.
Becky Jones, HWF, Ardonagh International

Discover more about how ACT helps Ardonagh colleagues give back

Visit the Community Grant section of the ACT website to discover more about the ways we help colleagues around the world give back to the causes, people and communities close to their hearts.