LHS: Saving lives one concert at a time, including our own….
Back in 2007 when we established the Love Hope Strength Foundation, we did not expect for it to give us the powerful focus that it has. We started the Foundation to help others who were less fortunate than ourselves in terms of having access to the latest cancer treatment and vital support networks. At the time, we hadn’t realised how much we would benefit emotionally from raising spirits, raising money, giving time and giving money to a cause that we care so much about.
Last year was a tough year for us. Dark days with little else to think about other than hospital visits and the ‘what ifs’ buzzing around our minds. Going on Love Hope Strength’s beach hikes with groups of people who understood the challenges that we all face when we are tackling cancer, both as a patient and as a carer, helped turned the ‘what if’ into a ‘what’s next’.
The positivity we drew from others who joined in Sahara Rocks was game changing. And the inspiration we took from our partners – clinical teams and cancer experts who are determined to make a difference, was incredibly heartening.
A year on from the doom and gloom of a long hospital stay, we are on our way to the USA to meet with some key people that have helped to shape, fund and direct the Love Hope Strength Foundation over the past 16 years.
We’re heading to Austin, Texas, where we will ‘walk and talk’ and spend time planning future activity with the Foundation’s co-founder and Board member Richard Rees and long term supporters including Rob Beauchamp of the Beauchamp Family Foundation which generously match funds over $50,000 a year and corporate supporters, Aric Golf, who make important get togethers like this possible.
We’re then going to Long Beach, California, where we’ll be attending the Union for International Cancer Control’s Cancer Leaders Summit to learn, share and plan how the Love Hope Strength Foundation can help effect real change for the people who most need support moving forwards. We will also be meeting with volunteers, who played pivotal roles in developing Love Hope Strength’s Get On The List program, to determine how the Foundation should continue to encourage people to register as blood stem cell donors.
We’ll be walking and talking in Southern California too. If you’re in the area on Thursday 19th October in the evening, join us for a walk from Venice Beach Pier to Santa Monica Pier. For more details, go to:
As well as organising hikes and connecting people who are seeking support from others, over the past year the Love Hope Strength Foundations in the U.K. and the USA have funded and pledged to fund a range of different projects:
£20,000 was donated to the cancer services in North Wales to fund new medical equipment and ‘star boxes’ filled with items to help newly diagnosed patients.
£10,000 for a blood stem cell research project at Newcastle University
£10,000 for the World Cancer Research Fund for an innovative cancer prevention program in Africa
£2,500 for the Liga Cancer Colombia, a cancer support organisation in South America
$50,000 for the Children’s Cancer Unit in the Muhimbili Hospital in Dar Es Salaam
$20,000 for the Union for International Cancer Control to fund a sponsorship plan for hospitals and organisations in underprivileged communities in Asia and Africa, so they can readily access the learning, research and information sharing between recognised universities, international leading nonprofits and world-class hospitals
$20,000 for HAAM, the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians to help provide care and treatment for musicians at risk of developing cancer or living with a cancer diagnosis
$20,000 for Punk Rock Saves Lives, the nonprofit established by former LHS staffers Rob and Tina Rushing so they can continue to help register people on the blood stem cell donor registry
$30,000 for the Moroccan breast cancer charity, the Lalla Salma Foundation
Over the past year we’ve also been able to connect in person with the founder of the Australian branch of the Love Hope Strength Foundation, the fantastic Matt Adam-Smith, for Sahara Rocks and Rock the Alps. It’s been wonderful to walk and talk with Matt and others who have their own plans of how to advance the support Love Hope Strength provides and see our collective vision taking root across the globe.
We’re going to be planning a range of different activities whilst we’re in the USA:
- Love Hope Strength will be holding its first Treat: Retreat in the U.K. for people affected by cancer in January 2024, and we will be looking to see if we can replicate it in the USA
- Love Hope Strength volunteers have started holding Get On The List donor drives in person again at festivals, gigs and other events in the U.K. We’re looking at what Love Hope Strength should be doing in the US.
- Love Hope Strength has informally created networks of supportive allies – individuals and organisations. Should these be more formalised and expanded, and if so how should this happen
- LHS has materials and information for people who are newly diagnosed and are searching for ways to maintain their wellbeing. Are these going to be distributed in the U.K. and USA?
- LHS is working with specialists to scope out new information exchanges between different health organisations. Is this something that the charity should prioritise
- The ‘rocks’ hike series – strolling and rock’n’rolling in beautiful surroundings, taking on challenging treks – has been successful in raising funds and building lasting beneficial friendships. The next UK, US and international hikes will incorporate challenging and easier routes, and, where possible, visits to hospitals to demonstrate the impact that Love Hope Strength’s supporters have had. We’ll be setting out plans for 2024-2027
- We soft launched the 21 Day Challenge in 2020. We’re considering ways to scale this to see whether it could help more people lead healthier lives.
We’ve said the music will keep us all strong for a while because we firmly believe that. What we know now is, so will the helping hand that our partners, volunteers and supporters provide for so many. As we fly from the UK to the USA, we’re reflecting on what a privilege it is to have come to know so many people who have done so much good, and how much their positive energy, determination, knowledge and kindness have boosted us in times of need and enriched our own lives as well as the lives of so many others who have needed their support.
If you have ideas and suggestions of what LHS could be doing to help reduce health inequalities or even just help put smiles on patients’ faces in places near you, please do make contact at [email protected].
We’re sitting going through memories, recollecting stories you’ve shared about chance meetings with people who have left a real impression on you whilst you’ve been volunteering and recognising the value of what the Foundation has done through the years. So many of you make Love Hope Strength what it is: a special movement led by volunteers which is fuelled by music, fun, camaraderie and a desire to give back. You uplift in different ways and help give a lifeline to those in need more than you will possibly ever realise.
We love putting so much into LHS, and we get so much out of it. Having LHS in our lives has saved us in so many ways.
Thank you to everyone who has walked and talked with us through the years and who continue to do so, and those of you who have organised your own LHS activities and thank you to the cancer professionals and wellbeing specialists who continue to guide our decision making when it comes to what Love Hope Strength should prioritise.
Mike and Jules Peters