Our Marketing Manager, Deborah Slaughter, interviews Louise McEwen, Chair of our Blush committee

What encouraged you to start volunteering for The Haven?

When you’re being treated for breast cancer, you spend a lot of time trying to be brave for those around you. At The Haven, I didn’t have to be brave. I could just be me.

The Haven picked me up when I was at my lowest point (after I thought the hard part was over). All I could think was ‘what has just happened to me?’. The Haven was a safe place for me, far from Google and its out-of-date medical information.

Oddly enough, a year before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my company suggested I think about doing some charity work to help develop my skills and also use them for good.

Breast cancer meant I had to put my plans on hold temporarily, but I was keen, and after visiting The Haven for complementary treatments, I realised I had found the right cause to support.

I got involved with The Haven’s Blush event last year and, having had such a great time and having met so many lovely people, I decided to do it all over again this year.

What is Blush?

Blush is The Haven’s biggest fundraiser and it’s celebrating its 15th year in 2015. Over the years, it has been everything from a magic show to a catwalk and a cabaret. I
can’t reveal too much about this year’s event at 1 Mayfair on 1 October, but I can tell you there will be fantastic food and great auction prizes.

What’s it like being a committee member and helping organise the event?
There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when a charity is able to expand its services because of a fundraiser you helped make happen. It’s a feeling I now couldn’t imagine living without.

Yes, you have to juggle things, but it is great to meet – and be inspired by - people from so many different backgrounds, many of whom have not had an experience of breast cancer themselves.

I have met friends for life, not just committee members. I look forward to their emails and the time we spend together planning out the event and dividing up tasks. I feel proud of the work we do. And, I continue to be motivated by – and thankful for – the charity that brought us together.

What does the role involve?

The Blush committee meets once a month for the nine months leading up to the event. We then keep in touch via email between meetings. The amazing Haven events team handles logistics and are there to support us throughout. It’s our job to help with everything from phoning businesses and sourcing auction prizes to selling tickets for the night.

We all play to our strengths, so don’t worry, if you’ve never done video before, you won’t find yourself heading up the video team!

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

It is great to feel part of something positive and work alongside friends, but, for me, the best part is seeing the progress at The Haven – from new facilities to great initiatives. I am particularly excited about the Outreach programme (being developed in parallel with the NHS), which will enable so many more people who can’t easily reach a centre to experience its amazing services.

Has it helped you develop your skills?

Absolutely. While I started out thinking it would be a good use of my marketing and events background, volunteering has also really helped me experience life outside of a commercial and corporate environment. It has made me feel a lot more grounded and has opened up lots of new opportunities.

What I could have never predicted, however, is just how much fun I would have along the way.

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?

I would say go for it. You could even start by attending an event to see just how much of an impact you can make.

As a busy professional, I thought I’d never have time to volunteer. Now, I realise that if you want to make a difference, there’s always time. Life is too short to wonder ‘what if?’.

Breast cancer can strip you bare, so it’s wonderful to volunteer for a charity that can put you back together again. I will never forget what The Haven did for me. Now, I want to make sure we raise even more money to support people facing cancer today and in the future. By volunteering, you, too, will help make that possible.

Room for another one on the Blush committee?

Yes, please! New team members are always welcome – along with auction prizes. Thanks!

Inspired by Lou’s story?: If you’d like to join one of our fantastic committees, please contact Lucy Grantham in The Haven events team on 020 7384 0024 [email protected] today. 

To find out more about upcoming Haven events and to book your tickets, visit thehaven.org.uk/support-us/special-events/