Photographer and mum of three, Caroline Stewart shares how using social media, her calendar, which features photographs of people who have all had a cancer diagnosis, has raised an incredible £18,000 for Cancer Research UK.
I have been running Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life for six years. When I first took part in 2009, I raised money for two people close to me who were affected by cancer. This year, I had to squeeze 38 names onto the sign on my vest which showed who I was running for. That’s a shocking increase and it inspired me to want to do more to beat this horrible disease.
That’s when I came up with an idea of using my photography skills to produce a striking calendar that would feature men, woman and children who had been affected by cancer to raise more money for Cancer Research UK. It turned out to be one of the most daunting but exhilarating experiences I have ever had.
I advertised through social media for cancer survivors of all ages to be my models. Incredibly I got over 300 replies. It was hard to choose just 18 of them to be part of the calendar. Every one of these beautiful people inspired me with their stories of hope and bravery. That’s why I called the calendar The Fight Within.
From the very beginning of this project, I had a clear vision that I wanted a striking image that provoked thought, but made you smile. That’s why I picked the photograph of Evelyn Vanni, who lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatment. It was so brave of her to allow me to photograph her with her head shaved.
The project got off to a flying start with a sell-out launch night of 450 invited guests to the Normandy Hotel in Renfrew. Local businesses generously offered their services for free and I was delighted to get the support of so many friends, family and strangers alike. I think people were so supportive because everyone is affected by cancer in one way or another and we all want to help find a cure.
With table sales, calendar sponsorship, raffles, auctions and calendar sales on the night we raised over £13,000. Our auction was so much fun and seeing people queuing up to buy my calendar and watching their reaction, blew my mind.
All 1000 calendars are now sold out and we have raised more than £18,000, an incredible achievement, especially considering that my initial goal was £500.
I have made so many new friends and would like to thank my models, and my family and friends who were a huge support. It has been an incredible journey. I certainly look at life differently and see just how precious every day is.
Since my event I have had so much publicity and positive messages that it gives me the determination to carry on raising money for this fantastic charity. So many strangers have told me their stories of fighting cancer and this gives me the drive to continue.
So I’m going to do it all again! I am looking for any men, woman and children that have cancer to be models for my 2017 calendar and would love if you would contact me to be part of this next amazing journey. Also if any companies would like to sponsor the calendar then please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/crcalendar2016.