This morning, at around 9.30am, the Precious Cargo scroll will be taken by a cavalcade of motorcycles to Hampton Court Palace , the place where it started its UK tour on 28th September 2013. It will be on display for the next two weekends in order to give the public a final chance to see “the worlds longest signed scroll” .
2 months ago, it was an empty roll of Tyvek material. Today , thanks to the support of the thousands of people who have signed the scroll and made their donations to the Precious Cargo campaign, it has become a beacon of kindness and hope.
Its been wonderful experience to witness the journey of the campaign, and to work with the many volunteers who have given their time freely in support of the mission. Everyone has had their own reason for taking part and we shall be capturing these stories in a commemorative booklet shortly.
Some of the personal stories are incredibly moving and serve to inspire us all. One such story is that of my SMNET hero, Maria Birt. Maria has kindly agreed to share her very personal blog about her involvement in Precious Cargo where she managed to overcome a devastating personal tragedy and become inspired to help others.
My precious cargo story (Maria Birt)
2013 has for me been a real shocker of a year – in fact, the end of 2012 was pretty poor too. In the last 12 months, I’ve lost 2 uncles, my husband’s Nan and I spent 5 months off sick at work with a relapse of a long term medical condition (that’s not all, but I’ll get to that later).
While off sick, I was spending a lot of time doing volunteer work for Studentmidwife.net, and I came into contact with Ron from Motorcycle Outreach. We had a few good chats about a potential project that we could collaborate on and it really struck a chord with me. I’d grown up in a family where biking was a lifestyle. My Dad was a biker in his youth and both of my elder brothers had bikes, scooters, in fact, anything with wheels and an engine practically.
Unfortunately, my eldest brother died in an accident on an outing on his bike in 2007, and after his big biker funeral I developed a true love/hate relationship with motorbikes.
I’ll admit, I was a little dubious when Ron first explained the project, but the man gave a legendary pitch and zeroed in on my passion for midwifery, maternal and child healthcare and equality in care provision. I knew I’d have to be involved somehow and so Ron and I got to work planning.
In the meantime, I got back onto my feet and went back to work! Hooray! In my spare time I worked on SMNET alongside working on the “Scroll Project” as it was known back then.
Within a few weeks, Ron and I had some firm ideas of how to move forward, and we went ahead and introduced the concept. Things began to move quickly then, and luckily we’re both people who knows someone who knows someone and bit by bit, more people came on board and were as excited and passionate about the project as we were.
The ‘Precious’ in Precious Cargo:
Eventually we got to a point where we were ready to launch.
The name “Precious Cargo” was born out of a telephone conversation between Ron and I one afternoon and after a vote it won out of several possibilities. I must admit, I love the name – I think it sums up how I feel about the scroll itself and about people in general. We forget that we’re all precious cargo to someone, and to think that there are people out there whose ‘precious cargo’ of family, friends and children aren’t getting basic, lifesaving care makes my heart ache. I can’t imagine not being able to see the GP or head to the hospital when I needed to, and some of these people have NEVER seen a doctor in their lives. It’s incredibly saddening to think that in 2013 there are still pockets of abject poverty and such extremes in access to healthcare around the world. I feel so fortunate to have been born in the UK, with healthcare which is “free at the point of access”. Precious Cargo is, for me, a beacon of hope for others and is a way of uniting people to stand together to make changes on a global level to promote and protect the health and wellbeing of others.
Unfortunately, around the time that Precious Cargo was beginning to gather momentum, my personal bad luck struck again when my sister was diagnosed with terminal Cancer, and 6 weeks later she’d passed away. In her last few weeks, we had chatted a lot about precious cargo and one of the last conversations I had with her was about the project.
While I spent several weeks in a big, black hole, my lovely friend Kelly picked up the mantle and helped Ron and the team to really get things motoring along (excuse the pun) and the next major milestone – a working website and real life volunteers – was reached. From there, the project moved along quickly, with the launch date and venue set and the volunteers poised for action.
My fundraising fun:
In all honesty, I didn’t really give fundraising a massive amount of thought. In fact, I had no clear plan until I got home from the Launch and had a panic about what the heck I could do in 2 short weeks to raise interest and money!
I began by posting an event on facebook and invited all of my facebook friends to it. I also made it visible to friends of friends to really get the message out there. My FB event outlined the project, had a few statistics and ended by telling my work colleagues to come to work and bring their purses. I also had a link to the website and badgered my non-work friends and family to donate online. Every few days I added a bit more information about what I had planned for the day that the scroll was with me. I also added bits of information onto my personal facebook page, asking friends and family who weren’t attending work to donate online - effectively spamming facebook with Precious Cargo.
At work the posters went up with details of the date of the project. I was only allowed to put them in staff areas, but I put a note on the bottom of them saying for more information to see me, and a few people did stop me in the corridors and ask about it.
In the 2 week run up to the scroll arriving, I spent all of my spare time sewing like a mad woman! As a hobby I make bags and purses, so made as many as I possibly could to sell. It was really enjoyable – the sewing machine on one end of the table and the laptop the other end. I managed to watch Downton Abby from the very beginning while I worked. Heaven!
On the day that the scroll was due to arrive, my husband and I spent the morning baking. We turned the radio up loud and danced around the kitchen, singing, laughing and generally having a ball, making tray bakes of brownies and flapjacks to slice up and sell on.
On the evening of the scroll’s arrival, the turnout was really quite poor – the unit was short staffed and not many turned out. However, I’d been given a trolley from delivery suite, a posh trust tablecloth and I was determined to squeeze every penny out of the poor staff on the unit at that time! I had a few cakes and bakes with me that evening, and everyone on duty signed the scroll and donated that night.
The following day, armed with cakes, bags and the scroll I made my way into the unit, set up my trolley and away I went. The scroll on the trolley was a really great idea – it’s difficult for people to get away from a busy ward or delivery suite, so taking the scroll to them is a good way of making sure that you see everyone. The scroll and I visited all areas of the maternity unit – Antenatal clinic, the clinic-based office staff (and I was cheeky and took the trolley into offices!), and a circuit around the maternity ward, triage department, delivery suite and midwife-led unit. Charlotte from SMNET joined me at one point to help me collect donations, supervise scroll-signing and sell cakes and bags, which I’m very grateful for the help!
I’d been told (by a friend of a friend on facebook) that a local children’s centre was hosting a local neonatal support group for mums of premature babies born at Russells Hall. The scroll and I popped over there mid-afternoon and spent a lovely hour with the mums and babies. One of the mums, Anna, gave us a wonderfully generous donation from a collection raised at her beautiful daughter, Violet’s christening and little Violet signed the scroll herself in her own special way, with a lovely purple footprint!
Moving on from the Children’s Centre, we (the scroll and I) went back to the hospital and trundled up the corridor to our education centre to catch people doing mandatory training, and on the way back to the maternity unit, we camped out in the corridor to catch passers-by and gained a few more signatures.
After that, I had a much-needed break while I waited for the night staff to arrive and in the meantime I managed to nab a few more donations from the day staff who wanted more cake!!
Once the night staff had arrived and handover had finished, the trolley and I did another circuit of the maternity unit to gather together the last of the signatures and donations before heading home for a much needed sleep!
Day 2 saw the scroll and I settled in my office in antenatal clinic as I had to work, but I’d done such a good job of getting word out there that people were still knocking on my door asking to sign and donate.
It took a lot of work, but once I was home and had counted up the money I’d raised I had such a lovely surprise! I’d surpassed even my own imagination of what I could raise.
But the fundraising didn’t stop there! I raided my spare change tin – you know, the one which the coppers get thrown into when they weigh down the purse too much and I found a pound coin in the tumble dryer filter – into the fundraising pot they went! I also had one or two people donate after the event, which bumped up the fundraising pot to a lovely sum of £462! And I still have more bags to sell… ;)
I’m really pleased with the amount I’ve raised so far, and the thing that kept me going and determined to succeed was the memory of my brother and sister, both dearly missed, and both of whom helped me grow into the person I am today. My efforts and the funds raised are dedicated to their memories.
Steve and Sharon – this one’s for you. xx
TV personality Amanda Holden delivered Precious Cargo to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, today , the last of the hospital stops on the scroll’s 2,200 mile UK tour. The Britain’s Got Talent judge travelled by motorcycle from the Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, West London, to St Mary’s with the scroll in a convoy of Blood bikes plus our very own Jan & Elaina in tow.
On Sunday , the scroll transfers to Hampton Court Palace where it will be on public display for a couple of weekends until 21st December. Then thats it, the Precious Cargo campaign, in the UK at least, will be over.
What a campaign it has been. 2,200 miles covered over a 10 week period, over 100 volunteers involved across 36 locations scattered the length and breadth of the UK. Over 10,000 signatures collected on the scroll that has grown to 40mtrs, making it the longest signed scroll in the world! Approximately £15,000 raised for the Precious Cargo campaign, PLUS, we have made many new friends, raised awareness, raised expectations and raised hope that we CAN do something to help save lives of women and children who are dying needlessly.
Precious Cargo has been privileged to have the support of some of the most prominent people in the midwifery profession plus thousands of health care professionals. Even politicians and celebrities have signed the scroll. We have created a great team of people, a unique brand , and a movement that hopefully will be taken up by other countries in 2014….We’ve even inspired a song ! (see iTunes for Precious Cargo by Danielle Skeat)
2 months ago , we wondered if the project would work, if it would get off the ground, and if we would achieve our aims? Well, not only did it work, it SOARED and we EXCEEDED our aims, in world record setting style!
We would like to thank every one that helped make this possible, 10,000 + thank you’s, in fact.
It’s been fun, we feel privileged, and we are enormously grateful.
Thank you so very much.
Exactly 2 months ago today, on 28th September 2013, we launched the Precious Cargo scroll from Hampton Court Palace, London, to embark on a unique journey around materity units of the UK . That journey is now almost over, but in another way, the journey is just beginning.
I have to admit that I will feel a little sad when the scroll’s UK tour is over and our FB pages go quiet. To counter this, however, I feel totally enthused about what our team of 100 volunteers have created and the lasting memories we can all cherish from our participation in the project. The collective effort of the team, the camaraderie we’ve enjoyed, the generosity of our supporters, the sharing of stories, the excitement of hearing the results, the tweets, the posts, the laughs..and the tears,…it’s been a fabulous journey. Our blank 16meter roll of Tyvek has transformed into a 40mtr long symbol of unity of a huge body of people who have given their personalised support to help reduce the unecessary deaths of women and infants around the world.
2 months ago, we had no idea what the outcome of the Precious Cargo tour would be. Today, after our 2,200 mile journey around the UK, we have almost 11,000 signatures on the scroll and the fundraising total is over £12,000 , and there’s more to come with events planned in December.
So, it’s not the end of the Precious Cargo project, but rather its the beginning.
We’ve got the ball rolling in the UK (in World Record setting style) , and now hopefully, our counterparts in other countries will embrace the Precious Cargo ball and run with it.
Either way, we can all feel really proud of our commitment to help make a positive contribution towards the MDG 4 & 5. In the not too distant future , I hope to be able to share photos of midwives on motorbikes helping people in developing countries thanks to the fundraising achievement of Precious Cargo. That will be the moment that we appreciate how truly “precious” this endeavour has been.
If you would like to make a donation to the project , please visit our Home page
or go directly to www.virginmoneygiving.com/PreciousCargo
For enquiries about the project, please contact me at email@example.com
WE DID IT, we flaming well did it!!
We passed our Guinness World Record Target of 10, 000 signatures on the scroll at approx 12.50pm on Tuesday at Ipswich. In fact our fabulous team there went on to get over 1100 signatures over the scroll’s 2 day visit…the highest number achieved at any location across the UK tour.
Not satisfied with that, the team also raised over £2000 for the Precious Cargo fund, the largest amount raised by any location . More details on the achievement of the team later.
Coincidentally, on the very same day we achieved the World Record target, donations in our Virgin Money Giving fund also reached £10,000!
10,000 signatures and £10,000 funds raised on the same day……Now that’s a record to be proud of….
…..WELL DONE TO THE WHOLE PRECIOUS CARGO TEAM. JUST BRILLIANT!!!
Tonight the scroll is up to 9156 signatures meaning we need just 844 more to secure the Guinness World Record!
The scroll is now at Ipswich for 2 days, which has one of our strongest student midwife teams .
Good luck to Bex and her team.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, we learned tonight that children at a school in Ipswich , where our volunteer blood biker, Andrew, is a teacher, have got together and raised a whopping £749! for the Precious Cargo campaign. How absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much Andrew.
Today, our fabulous Precious Cargo volunteers at the Rosie Maternity Unit, Addenbrooks & Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, confirmed that they added 840 signatures to the scroll over the last 2 days. This is an amazing achievement and takes the total number of signatures on the scroll to 8850, just 1150 short of the 10,000 needed to clinch the world record!
With just 3 hospital visits left before the scroll makes a brief visit to the RCM HQ, London on 29th November, there is now a reasonable chance that we will secure most of the remaining signatures by then. How fitting it would be to secure the 10,000th signature at the RCM.
However, we’re not counting our chickens, anything can happen over the next few days, ..but its a nice thought.
The Precious Cargo scroll is in the final stages of its 2 month UK tour. It will have travelled approximately 2000 miles by the finish and, hopefully, the Motorcycle Outreach & Student Midwives alliance will make a little bit of history in the process.
If all goes well, we will have created the world’s longest signed scroll, raised over £10,000 to help Motorcycle Outreach expand its work and , most important, raised awareness of the unacceptable, preventable maternal and infant deaths in developing countries around the world.
Our volunteers will each have the satisfaction of knowing that they have made a significant personal contribution to the mission and shown the world that by working together, we can make a real difference.
If you would like to support our mission, you can make a donation at www.virginmoneygiving.com/PreciousCargo
Since the RCM conference , the scroll has visited Sheffield, Doncaster, Derby , Peterborough and Norwich and 2500 signatures have been added, including over 1000 at Derby!
We are now up to 8000 signatures , just 2000 short of the Guinness World Record target of 10,000.
It’s now down to our remaining 5 hospitals to clinch the record for us. We need an average of 400 signatures per location ( double our run rate from the first half of the project) , which is a tough challenge, but we are determined to do it.
Today, the scroll is at Cambridge (Rosie Maternity Unit, Addenbrookes ) then,
Sunday 24th , Hinchingbrook Hospital,
Monday 25th Nov , Ipswich Hospital
Wednesday 27th, Harlow (Princess Alexandra Hospital) for 2 days
Friday 29th , RCM HQ, London
And the final day…
December 5th , Queen Charlottes Hospital (am) and St Mary’s Hospital, London.
If you are anywhere near these locations , please call in, sign the scroll and help us achieve the world record.
Having raised over £10,000 so far, Precious Cargo is already a resounding success. Getting the project in record books will be the icing on the cake, and just reward for our wonderful team of volunteers who have worked so hard over the last 5 months.
We just need that final “push” …..something our midwives are very familiar with!
Wish us luck!
What a fantastic event!
A whopping 820 signatures added to the scroll taking our total to 5500. Thanks to the conference , we are now back in the running to achieve the Guinness World Record target of 10,000 signatures over the next month or so.
Among the signatures were the country’s top names associated with health and midwifery including Dr Dan Poulter MP, Under Secretary of State for Health , Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Professor Lesley Page, RCM President, and Cathy Warwick CBE, RCM General Secretary. We also had signatures from Jacque Gerrard, RCM Director for England, Professor Sheila Kitzinger MBE, and leading broadcaster, Nina Hossian.
And what fun we had. The photos, below, tell the story. It was a truly memorable occasion and we are incredibly grateful to the RCM for allowing us to be part of their premier annual event.
PHOTOS FROM THE CONFERENCE (please excuse the quality of some, but you get the gist)
Night before preparations - Elaina Hughes sewing 150 pictures from Derby Children’s Hospital on a 16 metre scroll extension we added on the eve of the conference. (Elaina, based at Derby Royal Hospital also maintains our Facebook page, has collected and attached all the kids pictures on the scroll, and even helped with baking the cakes for the conference).
At the front of the scroll are two wonderful endorsements from the RCM and Sheena Byrom OBE (sorry if you cant read the print)
Thanks to the conference organisers, we had a great spot - in front of the entrance to the Student Midwives conference
Opposite was our stand. The main lobby was huge which enable us to unfurl the scroll for the first time and do a full count of the signatures ….5,320! (excludes 200 from day 2 of the conference)
It took a while…..
Then Maria had to roll it up. (Maria is a midwife at Russel Hall Hospital, Dudley, and volunteer for StudentMidwives.Net. She helped launched Precious Cargo on SMNET in July in order to recruit student midwife volunteers around the country. Maria also went on to raise over £600 when the scroll visited Dudley.
The scroll on the table ready for signing
And sign they did…
And some weren’t bothered how they signed….
Our day 2 volunteers were Kelly Skeats and Emma Driver. Here’s proof that our student midwives show great initiative. Great photo Emma ! (…also watch out for the Precious Cargo song about to be released by Kelly’s sister)
Jacque Gerrad , RCM Director for England and myself explaining the UK Midwives & Motorcycle Outreach initiative in support of MDG 4 & 5 to Dr Dan Poulter, Under Secretary for Health
The Minister signing the scroll…..a proud moment
And to show we have all party support, we were honoured later in the day to have Andy Burnham MP , Shadow Secretary for Health supporting our cause…
And support from the top at the RCM…first the RCM President , Professor Lesley Page….(our closeted Bloodbiker, see below)
Then Cathy Warwick CBE, RCM General Secretary with Jacque Gerrad looking on. ( Cathy once owned a Triumph Bonneville..Respect!)
Plus some real “icons” in the midwifery world . Here’s Professor Sheila Kitzinger MBE, with our Day 1 volunteers Nisha Patel (left) and Maria Birt
Precious Cargo has had great support from the RCM. We would like to thank Denise Linay, Head of Organising & Development for helping get Precious Cargo onto the RCM radar in the weeks leading up to the conference and to Angela Hubert for liaison support with Cathy.
In particular , we would like to thank Cathy Warwick for encouraging everyone to sign the scroll throughout the conference, and to Jacque Gerrad for her brilliant facilitation with the leading dignitaries throughout.
Fundraising can be fun…especially when you have people like Sheena Byrom around. Where Cathy leads..
At the end of the conference, when John Gaunt of the Whitenights Bloodbikers arrived to collect the scroll for the next leg of its journey, guess who was first to insist on sitting on the bike for the group photo?…….
Thanks to all. You were great. We had a ball!
Its been a fascinating week for Precious Cargo. The scroll has been touring Yorkshire calling at York, Dewsbury, Wakefield, Pontefract and Rotherham before taking a 2 day detour to Telford (try saying that without your teeth in) for the RCM Annual conference (blog to follow). It then returned to South Yorkshire spending the day at Sheffield Hallam on Friday before transferring to Doncaster for the weekend.
Pinderfields hospital, Wakefield, had an amazing day with over 500 signatures added to the scroll in 1 day! Thats more than double our normal average. Well done Zoe Perrow and the team. Fantastic effort.
Another example of Yorkshire determination was at Sheffield where our local volunteer Rachel Scurr overcame some earlier logistical challenges to raise over £670 with her buddies Laila, Roz and Emma for the Precious Cargo fund. Its one of the highest amounts achieved from a single location.
Yisha Liang Jackson and Rosie Hotchin also did brilliantly at Rotherham raising over £520 in a single day.
So far, our Yorkshire region project team led by Nisha Patel at Dewsbury and supported by Jo Lilley at York have raised over £2000 and added over 1000 signatures on the scroll…and we still have Doncaster’s results to come in.
Thank you to all the hospital staff and others who donated for your support to the campaign.
Selection of photos from Wakefield and Rotherham hospitals..
1. Zoe and Sairah at Pinderfields Hosptial, Wakefield
2. Display at Rotherham Hospital
3. Signing the scroll at Pinderfields
4. The scroll being collected from Rotherham
5. Whiteknights Bloodbiker John Gaunt with our team at Rotherham
6. Hospital staff signing the scroll at Rotherham
Precious Cargo will be at the RCM conference tomorrow and Thursday for what could be a “make or break event” in our attempt to reach 10,000 signatures on the scroll during the UK tour, due to end on 5th December 2013. This is the number we require to achieve the Guinness World Record for “most signatures on a scroll” (the new category created based on the Precious Cargo initiative).
We are behind target currently but the conference can help us get back in the running. Then, we need to maintain an average of 400 signatures across the remaining 10 visits. It will be challenge, but we can do it if we can maintain a strong focus.
It will almost certainly be right down to the wire on the very last stop.
No pressure then!
In preparation for the conference (and the final visits during November), the scroll will be transferred from Rotherham Hospital to Derby tonight to have a 16 metre extension added.
Additional pictures have been created by the kids at the Derby Children’s Hospital (thanks once again to Jackie and her team) and have been sewn onto the extension by our lead Regional Co-ordinator, Elaina Hughes.
Here she is hard at work (this is the “behind the scenes” stuff going on all the time to by our wonderful team of “Volunteers” in support of Precious Cargo. Their dedication and commitment to the project since the launch in September has been truly inspirational and the hospitals and professions that employ these staff can be truly proud of them).
We’ll have banners, cakes and the scroll itself on display at the conference and our volunteers, Maria, Kelly and Emma, plus myself will be there over the 2 days, so please come and say hello if you can.
The scroll will be collected from the conference at around 5.30pm on Thursday evening. It will then be transported in relay by Bloodbikers to Sheffield, where it will be eagerly awaited by our next team of volunteers.
We still have a long way to go , but the momentum is good, the excitement levels are rising and we up for the challenge.
Now lets have a great conference , and add to these signatures….