Our News

Causes special to Ardonagh colleagues supported with grants from ACT

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

Last year, ACT provided more than £155,000 in grants to causes put forward by our people. In 2023, we’re well on track to give back even more, with our current total donated through ACT grants standing at over £150,000.

Today, we share the ten charities, which stretch across the world from Brazil to Australia, being supported by ACT’s third round of grants for this year.

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

Supporting parents to bond with their premature children
Glasgow Children’s Hospital

Nominated by Rachael Stewart – Towergate, Ardonagh Advisory

Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity has sat at the heart of Scotland's busiest and largest children's hospital since 2001 supporting the extraordinary work that takes place at the Royal Hospital for Children – supporting over 200,00 babies, children, young people and their families who enter through the hospital’s doors each year.

Part of the hospital’s services is the care of premature babies. When babies born early are within incubators, they are often not handled as this can affect their recovery. This means mum and dad are unable to have precious cuddles that help with the parent and baby bonding process, which is extremely important especially at this very early stage of their lives.

Each year approximately 410 premature babies come in the neonatal unit and the department has been using special blankets, called miniboos, to provide an alternative way to develop the baby-parent bond. The miniboo blankets are first kept close to the mother, before being placed with the baby, where the blanket calms the newborn. Longer term, the familiar scent supports the introduction of breast feeding and bonding once the baby is able to spend time out of their incubator. The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund 820 miniboos, enough to support families and their babies for an entire year.

The many incredible volunteers that support Glasgow Children's Hospital.
I have been involved with the Glasgow Children's Hospital charity as a fundraiser and volunteer for eight years now. Growing up, my brother spent a lot of time in hospital, and I would regularly visit and saw what happened in to support children staying there. I'm currently signed up for multiple volunteer shifts throughout the summer months. I will always continue volunteering and fundraising for the charity through challenges such as the kilt walk, or my cupcakes raffles that I do online, as well as donating my time for their projects.
Rachael Stewart – Towergate, Ardonagh Advisory

Funding a new independent living course for young people affected by neuromuscular disorders
Muscular Dystrophy Ireland

Nominated by Margaret Hickey – Arachas, Ardonagh Europe

Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (MDI) supports people across Ireland who are affected by neuromuscular disorders, including muscular dystrophy and many more. The charity promoted ‘positive living’ by supporting practical empowerment and independent living for people with the conditions.

As part of this agenda, MDI have their own ‘Home from home’ apartment – a self-catering apartment in Dublin, which is fully accessible for those with wheelchairs, shower chairs, and electric beds. The apartment helps those with MD and their families to have short breaks in a supportive space where they can enjoy Dublin from.

Now, the charity plan to use this space to lead a new Living Well-Living Independent course, which equips young people aged 16-26 with tools and advice to navigate living with a neuromuscular condition. Through a series of six carefully crafted modules, participants will master crucial skills spanning home management, personal care, healthy lifestyles, independent travel, smart technology (e.g. assistive technology and tools) – all delivered at MDI’s fully accessible centre by an expert trainer. Thanks to a grant of £5,000 from ACT, the course will become a reality, which aims to reach 100 people annually once up and running.

Providing programmes of support to families affected by childhood cancer
Win the Day Trust

Nominated by Camilla Chissell and the Resilium team – Ardonagh International

Win The Day Trust supports children and families across Australia affected by childhood cancer. The charity is special to the Resilium team, as it has been a huge source of support to colleague Luke Hawks, whose son was diagnosed with cancer in 2020. Luke and his family had to re-locate three times during his son’s treatment, and Win The Day provided vital support throughout and since then the wider Resilium team have raised over $46,000 in aid of the charity.

The Trust’s support helps families practically and emotionally through their journey. The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund support packages for three families helped by Win the Day. Each family will benefit from counselling, grants to help transport and accommodation to medical facilities, meal packages for a carer, experiences to strengthen family unity and a welcome pack to help understanding of oncology.

Luke Hawks, together with his family (Lauren, Angus and Indiana), together with Resilium Broking manager Angela O’Neil.
During the 2023 Resilium Conference, we managed to raise over $55,000 in donations from our networks and via auction items for Win the Day. An additional ACT grant will bring our grand total up to $64,500, which will directly assist 16-17 families dealing with childhood cancer – and we will continue to support Win The Day in the future.
Camilla Chissell, Resilium – Ardonagh International

Improving access to healthcare for disadvantaged families in Lisbon
AADC (Associação Apoio no Domicilio à Criança) Crescer Bem

Nominated by Ana Mota – MDS Portugal, Ardonagh International

Crescer Bem (which means ‘Caring Well’) supports children and their families inside and outside the hospital environment at Hospital de Dona Estefânia in Lisbon (and more widely with other hospitals in the district), who are in situations of social risk.

The charity has a number of social projects to achieve their mission to make sure children can grow up with dignity, including a solidarity pantry providing food hampers, a solidarity laundry which families can use free of charge, a solidarity pharmacy to subsidise medication and projects to help children with their education and even breakfast in hospital.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will support Crescer Bem’s work across a number of areas. Half the funds will be dedicated to oral hygiene and ophthalmology appointments – providing 60 consultations for families who otherwise can’t afford them. The other half of the funds will be used to fund medication for families in need,  to provide formulated milks for young children referred to Crescer Bem by the Dona Estefânia Hospital, and to provide glasses to children.

Volunteers preparing support packages for the community.
Crescer Bem is very special to me because it provides invaluable support to needy families who have hospitalised children and few resources to provide them with healthy growth. I'm a member of this association and occasionally volunteer to help their projects, particularly in education and guiding families in the domestic management of a budget.
Ana Mota – MDS Portugal, Ardonagh International

Funding bursaries to accelerate research into allergies
The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation

Nominated by Cassandra Lazarus – Central Functions, Ardonagh Specialty

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse was only 15 years old when she died in 2016 on a flight after eating a baguette from a café which had sesame seeds in it but was not labelled as so.  Thanks to the tireless work of the Natasha Foundation, set up by her family in her name, it is now a legal requirement to have allergens clearly listed on packaging – known as ‘Natasha’s Law’.

Over the past few years, the foundation has spearheaded one of the largest allergy clinical trials to date and even organised a landmark ‘Global Allergy Symposium’ last year in Scotland, attended by the then Prince Charles and allergy specialists from around the world. With an annual increase of 5% in the number of people with allergies in the UK, it’s estimated that by 2060 70% of the population could be affected.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund ten bursaries for healthcare professional pursuing research into allergies and their treatment in children. The PhD bursaries are available to students studying at the University of Southampton’s internationally recognized allergy centre. The MSc bursaries are available to healthcare professionals at any point in their career, to enable them to enrol into qualifications connected to allergy. So far, the foundation has supported 65 people with bursaries.

My daughter Niamh had an allergic reaction to peanut butter when she was 6 months old, and since then has been diagnosed with several allergies and has experienced anaphylaxis reactions. The anxiety of having a child with multiple allergies is overwhelming at times, our whole lifestyle had to change. This is why the work of Natasha's Foundation is so important. The education and awareness that the foundation is putting out is priceless as is the trial. It gives me hope that one day Niamh and other children can simply take medication or be treated in other ways to improve their allergies so they can eat and live more freely.
Cassandra Lazarus – Central Functions, Ardonagh Specialty

Creating a new study room to support children in the suburbs of Lisbon
Agregar Rugby Club

Nominated by Claudia Carrico – MDS Portugal, Ardonagh International

The mission of the association Agregar (Escolinha de Rugby de São João da Talha) is to support the social integration – using rugby to support children who come from a vulnerable family or community. Rugby provides a language of motivation, which helps children in ways beyond sporting objectives and the association also provides food support and other support to help them excel.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will be used to create a multipurpose room at the club which will provide a space for study and socialising. The room will include a book library and toys, to establish an area for educational and recreational activities – and to encourage new children to join the club.

Local children on the pitch as part of Agregar Rugby Club.
This cause touches my heart because I still see many children in my locality in vulnerable situations and no child should be left behind. The donation will be used to create a multipurpose room for free study support with a library, as well as a social room with recreational activities for the children. I believe that it takes a village to raise a child. My youngest son Rafael attends the rugby school of this association and the atmosphere experienced of mutual help is phenomenal.
Claudia Carrico – MDS Portugal, Ardonagh International

Funding protection for community responder volunteers
South Northants Community Responders

Nominated by Nigel Hicks – Towergate, Ardonagh Advisory

South Northants Community Responders is run entirely by highly trained volunteers, who provide care in in response to time-critical emergencies. The charity has over 50 people who provide this critical service in and around Northamptonshire, which is particularly vital in rural communities further away from hospitals.

The charity are currently rolling out a project to ensure each volunteer responder has a body-worn camera. This is now common practice across paramedics and ambulance staff in the NHS, and similarly the community responders aim to do the same to look after their volunteers, which is a top priority. The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund 16 body cameras, making a significant contribution to the charity’s total target.

Nigel, left, with fellow Community First Responder, Alicia.
I volunteer for the Community First Responders scheme on a regular basis, doing at least 16 hours a month. It's really rewarding to see people getting help as quickly as possible which can make a huge difference to them and means we can help support the pressure that Ambulance crews may be facing . One area we deal with a lot now is falls and that has a real impact, as currently older people who fall often have to wait for some time for an ambulance and by us helping they can be quickly recovered, which is really gratifying. We all have to undertake regular training and I have recently undertaken some additional training to enable me to support more complex medical situations.
Nigel Hicks – Towergate, Ardonagh Advisory

Providing support packages to help special needs children in Rio de Janeiro

Nominated by Fabio Barros – MDS Brazil, Ardonagh International

INACRE is a non-profit based in Rio de Janeiro which help children and young people with special needs to access essential support, medication, food and hygiene products – aiding both the children themselves and their families. MDS Brazil colleague, Fabio, has regularly visited the charity and has seen the impact of the work it does to help disadvantaged families in the short and longer term.

The £5,000 grant from ACT will be broken down across the charity’s three core project areas, encompassing food packages, medication and hygiene products. The provision of nutritious meals, medical assistance, and products ranging from toiletries to sanitary items make a huge difference to empower the children and their families.

The INACRE institution holds profound significance for me, and my connection to it is driven by a deep sense of empathy and compassion. One particular moment left an indelible mark – I learned about a child who not only grappled with mental health issues, but also had to live with a colostomy bag. This revelation brought tears to my eyes and instilled in me a sense of urgency to do something meaningful to improve these children's lives. My visits to the INACRE institution are emotionally impactful, serving as a stark reminder of the fragility of human life and the good fortune we have in enjoying good health. Knowing that we can make a difference in these children's lives by providing them with support, care, and a chance at a brighter future is what deeply motivates me.
Fabio Barros – MDS Brazil, Ardonagh International

Establishing a new home for a growing community gymnastics club
Pix Gymnastics Club

Nominated by Kirsty Wainwright Noble – Towergate, Ardonagh Advisory

Pix Gymnastics is a hugely popular youth gymnastics club based in Hertfordshire in the UK. Up to now, the club has been utilising a local school to hold their classes for young people, including a newly launched class specially for children with special education needs (SEN). However, they now need to move home as they can no longer store their apparatus in the school.

Pix is so popular in fact that despite 200 young people currently in attendance, the club has a waitlist of over 250 children! To enable the club to continue, and to provide larger and more frequent sessions, Pix are planning to move to a dedicated premises. Already, the club has raised over £4,000 and the £5,000 grant from ACT will take them to closer to their target figure of £10,000 so that they can move to a new space.

This cause really matters to me because as well as my children attending Pix Gymnastics Club themselves, the club hold specific classes for children with special education needs, specifically catering to their needs. The fact SEN children have access to a club available to them that not only understands that they have different needs and caters to them, but the fact they can do them with their siblings makes a huge difference their families. It would be such a shame if Pix must close due to not being able to secure a premises and these classes stop.
Kirsty Wainwright Noble – Ardonagh Advisory

Delivering a month of food parcel to vulnerable people in Rio de Janeiro
Associação Só Vamos RJ

Nominated by Marize Martins – MDS Brazil, Ardonagh International

The social initiative ‘SÓ VAMOS’ began in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis. At that time, the homeless population, already socially vulnerable, were hugely affected by the lockdown, as they did not have housing to shelter and protect themselves from the virus and found it much harder to obtain food donations from the public.

Since then, the charity has continued in full force – serving a total of more than 115,000 meals to people in need in Rio de Janeiro. Currently, So Vamos serves over 3,500 meals a month and in the first half of 2023 alone, 700 food baskets were delivered to vulnerable families. The £4,200 grant from ACT will fund a month of meals, alongside water, hygiene kits and food baskets.

I started solo work with a homeless man who lived close to my house. Through this resident, I ended up meeting the Só Vamos group. I worked as a volunteer during the pandemic period, delivering food and logistics for clothing donations. The group was formed solely out of solidarity in providing healthier eating, which is so important to overall wellbeing.
Marize Martins – MDS Brazil, Ardonagh International

Learn more about ACT's work and impact to date by visiting the Community Grant page on the ACT website and follow us on our Instagram and Facebook @ArdonaghCT.