Networking has never been so fun – or meant so much to others
A guest blog from our member, Hayley Hilton.
Wow, doesn’t Christmas seem like ages ago now? Well for me the memories of helping out the disabled and disadvantaged children at the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust (CAFT) are still giving me a warm glow during this tumultuous British Springtime.
From the second we arrived, the staff briefed all the volunteers. There was a lot of pressure to get things just right for the kids and their carers to give them all some much needed respite. We were there to provide an actual taste of Christmas that give some had never experienced before. This was the biggest day with three huge parties each with over 100 guests. It was the end of a month of daily parties laid on by the amazing people at CAFT, with over 1000 total kids through the door during December!
The sports hall was transformed with tables laden with Christmas decorations and music pumping out of the disco speakers. Steve, the children’s entertainer was ready to smiles on the children’s faces (and wow did he work hard). The food and drink was ready to go with goody bags lying in the wings with a present for the kids to take home with them.
But the icing on the cake was the guests being greeted upon arrival by Bobby the larger than life CAFT mascot and all his Christmas friends, including a polar bear, a penguin and even a smiling dancing Christmas tree. The reason they were ‘larger than life’? Because myself and the other volunteers from the 2020 Network were to get inside these costumes and help create a real magical wonderland!
December 2018 was my second year of enjoying ‘mascot duty’ where we got to play dress up for the sake of the kids (yes, fully grown adults got to dress as Christmas characters, it’s not your typical ladies-who-lunch soiree!). I had the pleasure being inside the big smiley Christmas tree the first year but this year I was an Elf to support and guide my friend Angie who was dressed as a Penguin!
It’s difficult to see where you are walking in these outfits but this year the Penguin decided she was going to dance with the kids on the dance floor, win a dance off with Steve doing ‘the dab’ and some ‘flossing’ too. She was melting at one stage inside that costume but she still soldiered on. Most importantly, she was there for some of the kids to come and hold her gloved Penguin wing for a bit. They’d never met a big fluffy penguin before and it was all like a dream.
There were tears of emotion all round as we were humbled enough to get a glimpse of what these kids go through but also able to put a smile on their face and fill their lives with wonder (which is what all kids should have at least once, right?).
I have been a member of other networking groups since working for myself in 2015 but none quite like 2020. Not only is it a monthly meeting of strong female minds who enjoy referring business to each other, but it’s also a not-for-profit group meaning half of our monthly membership fee goes to this wonderful charity. We are supporting CAFT even if we can’t make one of our monthly networking meetings. It’s a great feeling with a true abundance mentality.
I’m really looking forward to our other CAFT fundraising events throughout the year but can’t wait for Christmas 2019 to come around so I can feel like a big kid again!
Find out more about our relationship with CAFT.