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From Hedgehogs to Hospices… how do YOU choose?

Despite working harmoniously together as a team, we’ve always known that we’re an eclectic bunch. This was even more evident when looking at the charities we have chosen to donate to in 2019, when we were fortunate enough to have our names pulled out of the Plus Four’s monthly charity draw.

We were surprised about the amount of self-imposed pressure that we each felt with regards to making a decision on which charity our donation should go to. Of course we wanted the £100 to go where it would make the most difference and have the most impact… but we felt the choice was so overwhelming … should it be a charity that helps people physically or mentally… should it be a ‘people’ charity at all or perhaps an animal charity – or a sporting organisation? Should it be a large charity or a small one… a local charity, in this country or abroad?

We asked our team how they had made their decisions – their answers were both interesting and very personal…

Our dynamic Field Manager Chris Melotte, the first to be drawn had no hesitation in nominating the charity CALM – a suicide prevention charity specifically aimed at males. He became involved with the charity after the suicide of a close friend and became actively involved in spreading the word about the charity and it’s services, by spending time speaking to people at large sporting events, cinema screenings, universities, music festivals etc., raising awareness and letting people know there is help available to them or to someone they know, who may be suffering.

Around the time of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day commemorations, Director Barbara’s name was drawn. She was very touched by all of the news coverage, programmes and stories and this, coupled with personal knowledge of the work carried out at their residential treatment centre in Leatherhead, meant that she chose for her donation to go to COMBAT STRESS, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health which as she said “does brilliant work to help former servicemen and women overcome trauma related problems and helps them to rebuild their lives”

Next out of the hat… well actually cup… was our Marketing & BD guru Paula Perez. Paula struggled with the decision as to where the money should go in her name. Paula has lots of friends actively involved in charities, and knew that they would all be grateful for the donation and couldn’t choose one over another, so in the end opted for a local charity that she has taken part in fund raising events for in the past. Paula said “The decision was a hard one – there are just so many deserving causes! St Raphael’s is a hospice close to where I live, it offers high-quality specialist medical and nursing care for people with cancer and other serious illnesses, and I personally know a number of families whose relatives have been looked after there and of the amazing nursing care and support that they offer. I take part in the annual ‘Santa Dash’ that they organise each year which is great fun (100’s of Santa’s in disintegrating felt suits snaking their way across the park) and also ran the London 10K Vitality for them after they approached my running club… but I didn’t like to ask friends and family for sponsorship at the time as I know so many people doing amazing things for charity that my circle is saturated! My son had just run a marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support the month before too... so instead I made a modest donation to the charity myself at the time and saw this as an opportunity to top that up.”

Barry Jetten, our resident data expert and Director of The Analysis Solution chose for his donation to go to Great Ormond Street Hospital "My daughter was born a month early with complications so have witnessed first hand the totally amazing work done by the GOSH team." Did you know that every year 238,000 children and young people are treated by GOSH every year – with 618 arriving from across the UK every day. There are 389 beds and they are clinical specialists in 63 different areas… so given these amazing numbers, his love of stats and the fact he is a father of 5, it’s easy to understand Barry’s choice

When I asked Field Manager Matt Faulkner how he’d heard about his chosen charity Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary in St Albans, he said “through the Scouts which I help with, I like animals (sometimes more than humans haha) and thought this is a great organisation trying to save a National species. Rough estimates put the hedgehog population in England, Wales and Scotland at about one million, compared with 30 million in the 1950s, so the little guys need a help”. Being a small local charity, Matt went there himself to present the cheque to Martin who runs the sanctuary, and even got to have a little cuddle with Kelly the hedgehog.

For some, the reasons for their choice are entirely personal. For Keeley our Data Entry star, there was no hesitation, there is one charity that she always supports whenever the chance arises and that’s Alzheimer’s Society. Her Dad died from Alzheimer’s, so donating to the association whose mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease ‘through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care for all those affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health’, and whose vision is ‘a world without Alzheimer's disease’ is a fitting tribute.

For our Managing Director Peter Allan, whose life outside research has always been and remains dominated by sport, supporting Nomads Korfball Club in SW London / Surrey (you may need to google Korfball!) with his donation was an easy choice, as he has a long standing history with the sport of Korfball and the club. Peter feels that sport of any kind is essential to mental and physical well-being, and the fact that Korfball encompasses all genders and ages and that the club reaches out to schools and young people in the local area, make it a worthy recipient.

For some, the charity they chose has no personal connections at all, they are just aware of the cause that they support and think that it is an important one, this was exactly the rationale behind the decision of Senior Data Processing Executive, Deni Hoxha when he selected Brain Tumour Research – they are currently fundraising research at Centres of Excellence to help fight Brain Cancer.

For those who have not yet been lucky enough to be drawn, we wondered if they already had a charity lined up in waiting, or if the decision was one yet to be made. Accounts Manager Denise (ever efficient and organised!) of course knows in advance who she would donate to, and for what specific purpose the funds would be used…without hesitation “I would donate the £100 to Kingston and Merton Girl’s Brigade. They are about to embark on running a training programme to help teenage girls become leaders in their Girls Brigade Companies. Denise is a massive supporter of the Girls Brigade organisation because of the role it plays in supporting (primarily) girls and young women in the local community, by providing an environment where they can develop their skills, have new experiences, and make friends for life. This programme focusses on building confidence and leadership skills which will spill over into other aspects of their lives and have a positive impact.

Our ‘Receptionista’ and owner of the cheery voice that greets you when you call Plus Four also has a charity of choice prepared – Alex is very definite that her donation would go to the British Heart Foundation in thanks for the part they played in “putting my Dad back together when he had a sudden heart attack at a relatively young age … they were amazing, and I’m just so grateful for the help they gave my family”.

The choice of our Associate Director Cara Allan, was interestingly the only international charity chosen amongst our team in the 2019 draws. Very many years ago, at Glastonbury, Cara saw a ’comedy’ sketch / advert for WaterAid that has stuck with her ever since - possibly one that would probably not be shown in today’s day and age - where a child urinated into a glass in a high class restaurant, which was then drunk by the guests at the table (from memory it was Mel Smith and Gryff Rhys Jones) to demonstrate that we allow others to live in conditions (drink water) that we would never consider acceptable for ourselves. Cara said “I’m lucky to have travelled a fair amount and I find it unforgivable that not everyone in the world has access to the basic human necessities of clean water and toilets.”

One of the things that really struck us when reading the reasoning behind our team’s charity choices is how important the ‘be kind’ message really is – applying to both children in school and adults at work. Even in a small company, you can never really understand what the person next to you at the photocopier is dealing with in their personal life, and even on the most demanding and stressful of days - because let’s face it there are many of those in research - being kind and considerate of other’s feelings, means charity really does begin ‘at home’.

We are grateful that we work with such generous and interesting people, with a variety of experiences and passions, who make a difference, whether big or small.



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