Fundraising: Me and my charity - Polly Highton

Polly Highton is an actress and teaches drama in Newbury, Berkshire, when she is not acting. She supports the Tiny Lives Campaign, a Bristol-based charity that raises funds for the refurbishment of Southmead Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

Why did you choose the Tiny Lives Campaign? I was on a tour with a company in Bristol in March, playing Mum's the Word. The whole crew was invited by the charity, which is based in the city, to support its work.

The play featured a woman who had had a premature baby. We were taken around by the charity and visited a special unit that desperately needed investment and renovation. It was a really emotional experience for the six of us who went. We wanted to do something and talked to our manager about it.

We decided to talk about the charity's work at the end of the show. I spoke from my heart and asked the audience if they would make donations to the charity.

How much did you raise? About £2,000 during the week we were there. On the last night, Karen Willis from the charity went to see the show. She heard the speech and was very moved by it. We talked after the show and I decided to do more for the organisation. I ended up doing a half-marathon in Bristol in September - it was a massive challenge, given my weight.

Do you volunteer as well? I was recently asked to become an ambassador for the charity, and I hope I will become the public face of the campaign. I would like to go to press conferences to explain to people how the money will be used. Now I am an ambassador I am also going to start supporting it financially by means of a monthly donation.

Do you support other charities? Yes, the National Deaf Children's Society.

What do you do when a charity approaches you? If it is a charity that touches my heart, I will give it money, often for a one-off. It doesn't take much, does it? I am always pleasant to people raising money in the street because it is such hard work. Everyone should at least take the time to say hello and explain to them why they cannot give.

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