our fundraising journey

From Darkness to Light

Our fundraising journey and the evolution of Calum’s Legacy

This week I (Kim) got to help my good friend Alisoun Mackenzie with her fabulous Business for Good conference. The event was amazing – so many great stories being shared of how businesses can do good in the world through connections to causes and supporting charities. Alisoun had asked me to speak on the 2nd day and share the evolution of Calum’s Legacy and I realised that I hadn’t really spoken about this journey before. So I thought I’d share it with you.

Our son Calum died suddenly in 2007 from meningitis, he was 12 years old only a few weeks from becoming a teenager. It was the blackest and bleakest time of our lives. Our worst nightmare come true. But it wasn’t the end of our story it was the beginning of a new chapter.

Calum was always surrounded by friends and they were just as devastated and lost as we were by his death. I’m not sure who suggested it but as his friends gathered in our home in the days after his funeral, we decided to do something to celebrate Calum’s 13th birthday. The outcome was the biggest birthday party ever with over 1,000 people coming to the school to take part in lots of fundraising activities which raised almost £10,000 for Meningitis charities. It was huge – the outpouring of love, kindness and support was overwhelming and started to shine some light into the darkness of our lives. It gave us all a focus – something to do, a sense of purpose that was so missing. This was the start of our fundraising journey in Calum’s memory.

In the following years, we organised many different events, music nights, raffles, walked over hot coals, family and friends climbed mountains, ran marathons and collectively generated a lot of money for Calum’s Forever fund at Meningitis Now. But our business was growing and this created a challenge.

Indie Authors World is our accidental business, the seed began with Sinclair’s crime fiction books that he wrote to help him cope with Calum’s death and grew as we helped other writers to publish their books. This meant less time for fundraising until Alisoun suggested that I could bring the fundraising into our business. I had a bit of resistance to the idea at first but realised that we could create a publishing prize in Calum’s memory so some writer would also benefit. The Calum Macleod memorial publishing competition started, we organised a ball on what would have been Calum’s 21st birthday and invited our shortlisted authors to come along. This was a wonderful evening, money was raised for the Meningitis Charity, Calum was remembered, and Karin Finegan won the prize so her awesome book The Thirteen Stones was published.

This was the point that we began to develop the dream we could create a bigger impact. The fundraising we had done for Meningitis Now made a huge difference to us and helped other families that had been affected by this horrible disease but it felt connected to Calum’s death. I wanted to do something that recognised who Calum was in life. Sinclair and I started to talk about helping young people, bringing people together to build confidence, create opportunities to learn new skills and have fun. It’s taken a couple of years but we have now opened our creative youth enterprise project – Calum’s Legacy.

I am super excited about the possibilities of this. Twelve young people will get our support to find their voice, create stories and learn everything we do to create, market and sell a book. Their stories are going to be turned into a book. So yes there will be a physical product but I hope the young folks will gain much more – confidence, work skills, friendships, fun, life skills and maybe even light the entrepreneurial spark of possibility.

Calum’s Legacy is being funded by our business – we will donate money from the publishing packages we sell and are donating our time. We need to gather resources, laptops and some funds to pay for travel costs, food, admin support and other publishing costs along the way. We are recruiting author mentors to encourage young writers. We are open to offers of help and support too.

Standing on the stage in Edinburgh this week – I looked at the audience, many in tears who were clearly touched by our story. It was such a joy to talk about Calum and recognise the road we had travelled and the impact that fundraising had on our lives. The joy of having Calum at the heart of our business is immense. The hope that we can help other young people while making writers dreams come true makes me emotional. Our daughter Kirsten spoke at the launch of Calum’s Legacy on Mother’s Day – she talked about her memories of her brother with the kindness and love he showed to people. That love and kindness are enshrined in our business.

As Alisoun Mackenzie says “Business is a wonderful opportunity to be kind” it adds an extra dimension and now our light shines bright. I’d encourage you to add more kindness to your business.

You can help us by sharing Calum’s Legacy with any young person in Greater Glasgow/ East Dunbartonshire area. Applications are open until the end of June 2019.