Somerset’s Sam Safe will be heading to the House of Commons in London on Tuesday to take part in the finals of this year’s Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards.
Safe, the club’s catering general manager, has been recognised by the blood cancer charity for her dedication to raising both money and awareness for their cause.
Sam, along with her family and friends, has been shortlisted in the ‘Group Fund-raiser of the Year’ category at the ceremony.
This award acknowledges supporters of the charity who, as a group, have gone above and beyond in dedicating time and energy to their fund-raising.
Sam’s husband Simon, the executive chef at the club, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in July 2014 and was told by doctors that a stem-cell transplant was his best chance for survival. After a search for a donor with the correct tissue type Simon, who was treated at Bristol hospital, had his transplant in November 2014. He is now in remission.
Regarding Simon’s situation Sam said: “We were hoping Simon’s sister would be a match but after we found out she wasn’t, the search for the one in a million started.
“His transplant fell through be- cause the donor didn’t pass the final test and we were all feeling a little deflated but then we finally got the call to say it would be early November.”
Simon received his transplant, his second chance of life, in November 2014 and is now, as Sam says, getting back to ‘normal’.
During Simon’s treatment, Sam and her daughter Amy spoke about fund-raising for Anthony Nolan and Amy was keen to get started as soon as Anthony Nolan started looking for a donor.
“Within days of Simon being diagnosed Amy had already talked about fund-raising,” said Sam. “I understood Amy’s enthusiasm but we didn’t quite know what was happening at the time.
“Our first fund-raising challenge was our local half-marathon in April 2015 and we took up running that winter. I’d done a couple of 5Ks but nothing serious. It was tough, but raising money for what we were going through helped us to get through it.”
Sam and Amy then went one step further and took on the Virgin Money London Marathon in April 2016. To help raise money they organised a grand ball and, between them, raised more than £10,000.
Last year Sam passed the marathon running baton to two of her friends, Lisa Brown and Jenny Sanderson, who also held a ball and raised nearly £12,000.
After saying she would never do it again, Sam has now signed up to run the London Marathon in 2018 and will be holding her third annual charity ball in March to raise money.
Ahead of the event Sam said: “We are very excited to be doing this again and I can’t thank everyone enough for their tremendous support and generosity when it comes to the annual ball. So many people give so much and we are so grateful to everyone.
“Special thanks should go to Heather Mill though who has once again been outstanding with helping to source our raffle and auction prizes.”
Mill is one of the longest-serving members of staff on the catering team at the Cooper Associates County Ground.
Sam also uses her fund-raising events to educate others and encourage them to join Anthony Nolan’s stem cell register. “I sometimes say ‘I don’t want you to give money, just sign up to the register or encourage someone else to do it’,” she said. “Being able to raise awareness and get people on the register means so much more to me.”
Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. It also carries out vital research to make stem cell transplants more successful, and supports patients through their transplant journey.
Henny Braund, chief executive at Anthony Nolan, said: “Sam and her family and friends are incredible, passionate supporters and we’re delighted they are being recognised for all of the hard work they have put into supporting Anthony Nolan.
“While many people support Anthony Nolan, enabling us to carry out our life-saving work, Sam and her team have gone above and beyond in raising both funds and awareness for our charity and the life-saving register.”