Fundraising: Me and my charity

Poppy Barber has helped the Leukaemia Research Fund raise more than £1m since she began supporting it in 1968. She was awarded an MBE in 2000 in recognition of her fundraising efforts.

Why did you choose the Leukaemia Research Fund? One of my daughters was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1965. We were told there was very little that could be done about it as there was very little research into the disease at the time. We were lucky she survived. I was aware that a charity raising money for research had been created by a group of parents in Newcastle a few years before and decided to collect donations on their behalf. It was in 1968 - the charity later became a national charity named the Leukaemia Research Fund. What do you do to support them? We started by organising sales in our back garden, which quickly spread across the neighbourhood until we were holding several sales at the same time. It was one of my other daughters, who wanted to sell her dolls to raise funds for research, who gave me the idea of holding sales. I am now the chair of the charity's local branch in Redbridge in east London, which I helped found in 1973.

Every year we have a Christmas bazaar and a junior 'bikeathon' that raises £3,000. We also collect donations outside shops. At the moment Marks & Spencer authorises us to stand outside its store in Ilford. We raise about £600 from each collection.

How much time do you dedicate to the fund? I wouldn't be able to say.

My husband is very supportive because I give up a lot of my time. We have more than 100 members in the branch and keeping in touch with them takes a lot of time. I also have to answer a lot of phone enquiries about the fund's work as our office is based at my house and its phone line is the same as my private one.

Do you give money as well? Not in large amounts.

What are your other charities? The Leukaemia Research Fund is my only charity. I sometimes give to people collecting money in the street, and I also make occasional donations to the RAF Foundation, of which my husband is a life member.

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