Looking Back at 25: How one of CRY’s youngest supporters helped write a new chapter in our fundraising history

For this article we’re going to look back to 2005, the year of CRY’s 10th anniversary…

From day one, Alison Cox and the team at CRY have often been ‘lost for words’ at the amazing lengths CRY supporters would go to in order to raise funds and awareness for the charity.

But, in 2005, Alison came up with an idea for CRY’s 10th anniversary (an inspiring book, curated by a young person who was never lost for words) which she felt would ‘speak volumes’ about everything CRY was doing to support families affected by young sudden cardiac death.

Following a recommendation by CRY supporter, Caroline Gard, Alison approached an aspiring author, 12-year-old Julie Tanner, from Kirby-Le-Soken, Essex. Julie had become aware of CRY following the sudden and tragic death of Caroline’s son, Andy (a family friend in 1997) just two years after CRY had been established.

17-year-old sixth form student Andy (from nearby Frinton) had died without warning from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Julie was just five at the at time, but Andy’s death had left an impact on her, even at such a young age, and years later she knew she wanted to do something to help the charity that had helped Andy’s family.

<em>Caroline Gard at a CRY Parliamentary Reception with Ivan Henderson MP and Julie Tanner in 2004<em>

So, Julie took on the task of writing to hundreds of A-list celebrities and top sports stars, asking them to come up with a simple yet poignant quote about what they do, or like to think about, when they are feeling down. The responses came flooding in and soon the book had an inspiring working title: “101 Reasons to Get Up in the Morning” (even though an amazing 111 quotes were actually received in the end!).

As Julie explained when interviewed by The Colchester Gazette; “I really hoped the book would help so many people and especially CRY families who have to cope with something so hard that they think they might not be able to manage it [every day].”

The book included quotes, a photo and signature from a stellar list of famous faces including Hugh Grant, Dames Julie Walters and Emma Thompson, Sir Ian Botham, Jonny Wilkinson, John McEnroe, and the late great Sir Terry Wogan. Perhaps unwittingly, the book made history by including contributions from the then Prime Minister and, 20 years later, the current Prime Minister (who at the time was the lesser known editor of The Spectator magazine, Boris Johnson!)

Julie Tanner herself also made history as the youngest ever published author at Canterbury Press. The book (right) went on sale priced £7.99, with all profits going to CRY and was available to buy at Waterstone’s stores across the country, as well as directly from CRY as part of its 10th anniversary activities (she then went on to become the editor of the “Kids for CRY” section in the charity’s magazine).

So, in November 2005, “101 Reasons To Get Up In the Morning” was officially launched on Sky News, with CRY Patron John Inverdale (also featured in the book) interviewed by anchor man, Eammon Holmes, discussing CRY’s key messages and promoting the charity to a huge audience. One of the first times that a CRY fundraising initiative was featured on a rolling news service of this scale and raising the bar for the CRY Press Office!

This was followed up by widespread coverage in media across Essex and several book signings at bookshops and local schools, including Colchester County High School for Girls where Julie was a pupil.

With the launch just before Christmas, the books flew off the shelves, selling around 3,000 copies. And, unsurprisingly, the feedback from CRY supporters was fantastic:

  • “I found the book quite emotional – it was so good! I approached our local bookshop and local paper to promote it… my friends are all ordering it for Christmas.”
  • “This book is brilliant. Just brilliant!”
  • “I was so pleased to help promote this terrific initiative through our local radio and local paper – and even got it stocked in our local bookshop.”
  • “This is a wonderful little book for Christmas… something for everyone” – (Caroline Gard, Andy’s mum)

15 years on and the quotes – and the sentiments behind them – are just as powerful as they were back in 2010. And, 15 years on, the media interest in CRY’s initiatives and campaigns (whether fundraising, awareness-raising, celebrity-focused, support or science) has continued to grow from these early days. Journalists from across the world continue to come CRY as a hugely respected source of information, inspiration, swift expert advice and policy updates.