Where are they now - Catching up with Something To Look Forward To
13th November 2019
The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards return to our screens on Tuesday 19 November and the people behind the amazing good causes you fund get their chance to shine. Ahead of this year’s broadcast, we decided to catch up with some of last year’s winning projects to see how life has been since their victory 12 months ago.
Today, it’s the turn of Francesca Abery, the daughter of special achievement award winner Fiona Coldron. Fiona, founded Something To Look Forward To which is a National Lottery funded family-run charity website that enables individuals and businesses to donate 'gifts' and 'experiences' to thousands of families affected by cancer, especially those struggling emotionally and financially.
Looking back, what was it like to win the Special Achievement Award last year?
It was amazing and felt like we were living a different life! As I knew about the award and I was the one surprising my mum on stage there was a lot of nervous energy and excitement leading up to the event. Being able to tell my mum she had won on live television was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
How’s life been for Fiona and Something To Look forward To since winning the National Lottery Award?
Since winning the National Lottery Award, our service has grown considerably. We have recruited another member of staff to help coordinate our service and we have provided a record number (on our previous years) of gifts, experiences and essential items to people affected by cancer and cancer poverty across the UK. Our social media following is growing, and someone even stopped me in the street and said they recognised me from the telly!
What has the project done in the last 12 months?
We have worked hard to build a large portfolio of independent cottage owners who donate weeklong holidays, often on a regular basis which we in turn gift to families affected by cancer poverty. This enables families to create lasting positive memories during often difficult times.
We have also built a strong workforce of volunteers who help us with gift sourcing, fundraising, events and marketing and they are priceless.
This year (to date) we have provided over £24,000 worth of gifts, experiences and essential items to over 3650!
Through evaluation of our service we now know that we treble any funds raised into the value of gifts we can provide to people in need i.e. a £20 donation = a £60 restaurant meal which makes us a highly cost-effective service.
What have been the big moments?
We held our first ever Masquerade Ball fundraising event complete with top celebrity chefs including James Cochran, Daniel Britten and Jamie Mountford who cooked a 6-course tasting menu for our guests.
Fiona met Daniel Zeichner the Labour MP for the city of Cambridge.
We were the chosen charity for Tri Sudbury and raised over £9,000 for families affected by cancer poverty in Suffolk via their spring triathlon event.
What’s in the future for Something To Look Forward To?
We are looking to employ a Fundraiser to join our team so we can expand and improve the lives for more people affected by cancer poverty across the UK.
We are looking to finally acquire some premises for our staff team – we have been working from a converted bedroom for the last 4 years so think it’s about time!
We are building our portfolio of gift and experience donors and starting to work with larger brands who support our cause.
Do you have any messages for National Lottery players?
Thank you so much for playing The National Lottery! I don’t think people always realise where their money goes, and it really does filter down to some of the most deserving causes in the UK who are doing amazing things on the ground with groups of people that are desperately in need of support.
Did you have any memorable celebrity run-ins on the night?
Stephen Mangan congratulated me on my speech which was awesome! Lisa Faulkner also became the Patron of our charity! My stepsisters got photos with David Haye and Liz Carr so they were chuffed!
How did it feel to watch yourselves back on TV?
Very emotional! We had all our friends over to watch it and I was crying the whole way through! It was amazing though and made me feel exceptionally proud.
Can you tell us what it felt like when you realised that Lisa Faulkner celebrity would be handing you the award?
I was really pleased that Lisa Faulkner would be giving my mum the award as we had spent a whole day filming with her prior to the awards and we instantly clicked. For her to say she would be the Patron of our charity was the icing on the cake!
We’re celebrating our 25th birthday this year, what’s your first memory of the National Lottery?
My mother and father buying lottery tickets every week and them winning on my father’s syndicate at work!
Do you have advice for projects looking to enter in the 2020 Awards?
You need to be strong on your marketing game as the winners are decided by the amounts of votes that are cast so a good social media strategy is key.
Something To Look Forward To is a charity website for people with cancer and their families to access a variety of gifts generously donated by people and companies. You can find anything from restaurant meals, hotel stays, beauty treatments, tickets for events and attractions… To find out more, visit https://somethingtolookforwardto.org.uk/
You can watch The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards on Tuesday 19th November at 11.45 pm on BBC One, or catch up on BBC Iplayer from after the 20th September by clicking here: National Lottery Awards