Cllr Sam Maxwell - Town Mayor 2006/2007
(This article has been published with the kind consent of the National Eczema Society Magazine. For more information on the charity, please visit www.eczema.org)
When Sam Maxwell became Braunstone Town Mayor on 11 May 2006, there was only one contender to be her charity of the year – the National Eczema Society!
An event-packed and exhausting 12 months later, Sam has finally hung up her chains of office having raised an incredible £5,041.
‘I’d looked at what other Mayors had raised for their charity of the year and, because I work and have a family to look after, I set myself the goal of £3,000. When I exceeded that target with 5 months still left in office, I was delighted and I’m absolutely thrilled with the overall total.’
Sam’s decision to support the National Eczema Society was a result of seeing her 15-year-old daughter Eleanor battle with the condition from an early age.
‘Eleanor is our eldest child and she developed the first signs of eczema when she was 3 months old. It wasn’t especially bad at first – just a few patches – but around the time she started school it took hold with a vengeance.’
No one knew what had caused the sudden flare-up, but at times Eleanor was covered from head to toe in eczema and it wasn’t long before it became infected.
‘We got into a vicious cycle. The infection would start on her face and within a day her whole body would be covered. Antibiotics would clear it up but then, within a couple of days of completing the course, the infection would take hold again.’
By now, Eleanor’s eczema was having an impact on the whole family.
‘Treatment regimens were time-consuming and then there was the daily task of hoovering mattresses and curtains to reduce the house-dust-mite population, as well as the endless washing of bandages, bed linen and clothing – all of which contributed to there being less and less time for everybody else.’
Between the ages of 5 and 9, Eleanor’s eczema got steadily worse and she was an outpatient at her local dermatology unit until 13 years of age.
‘Her face was always really sore and she had cracks over her eyelids and around her neck. At first we’d see the consultant every few months but, when the eczema was at its worst, we’d be at the hospital every week for a check-up.’
As their family grew Sam contemplated the prospect of another of her children developing the condition.
‘Thankfully, none of our other daughters has eczema but I was always on the lookout for signs of it in the youngest three – Jenny, Julia and Katie – and, when any of them got heat rash, I’d wonder if it was evidence of eczema taking hold.”’
At the age of 8, Eleanor experienced such a severe infection that she was hospitalised for a whole week.
‘Although it didn’t appear that way at the time, getting admitted to hospital was really the best thing for Eleanor. The eczema was never quite as bad from then onwards as, following her stay, the hospital saw her more frequently and we got a really effective treatment regimen in place for her.’
Part of that regimen was tacrolimus ointment (Protopic), which dampens down the body’s immune system. At the time, this was a new treatment and Eleanor became one of the first children at the hospital to be given it. Protopic worked well for Eleanor and helped her finally regain control of her skin.
Now 15, Eleanor continues to follow a strict regimen and her pots of cream go everywhere with her. Like many image-conscious teenagers though, she’s also keen to experiment with different looks and has discovered that her skin will tolerate make-up.
‘When Eleanor hit puberty her skin really began to improve. She still has active areas of eczema and her face and legs are particularly prone to flare-ups – especially when the seasons change, she’s stressed or is under the weather – but overall it’s under control.’
Bandages are now used on an occasional – rather than a daily – basis, and are applied to the back of Eleanor’s knees or the creases of her arms, while Protopic remains the main form of treatment during a flare-up.
The National Eczema Society has played an important role in the family’s life for the past 10 years.
‘When Eleanor’s condition first deteriorated, a health visitor gave me some information leaflets on eczema and the Society. We immediately decided to join and it was one of the best decisions we ever made.
‘On a practical level, it was extremely useful as I gleaned handy hints and tips from the letters page and found mine wasn’t the only rubber washing machine seal to need replacing every 6 months because emollient had perished it!
‘It was also a comfort seeing others in the same situation and hearing how they coped while caring for a child with severe eczema. It was reassuring to know that we weren’t alone, and the research updates and treatment features also gave us hope that one day eczema would no longer be a part of our lives.’
It was the invaluable support of the National Eczema Society that led Sam to choose to raise money for the Society during her 12 months in office.
‘I hope that the money will enable the Society to continue to provide the information and support that made such a difference to our lives.’
Although Sam’s calendar of events has been bursting at the seams all year, three in particular stand out for her.
‘The psychic evening was a huge success, as there’d never been anything like it in the community before and it proved to be a huge hit. The two clairvoyants very kindly waived their fee for the show, so all the proceeds from the door went straight into the Charity of the Year fund.
‘A few weeks later we also held a very popular craft fair, where exhibitors paid to have a stand and visitors were charged a small entrance fee. Over 200 people came to browse the 35 stalls and we were overwhelmed by the support the event received. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and took advantage of the opportunity to buy friends and family something special for Christmas.’
While these two events raised the most money for the Society, one particular fundraiser stood out for Sam as being the most enjoyable – despite, ironically, being the smallest and most low key.
‘I decided to host a Body Shop party at our house, for friends and neighbours. It was great fun trying out all the products and my daughter made sure she was the recipient of the free makeover! Instead of the host getting a percentage of the takings to spend on goods, we agreed that they’d give me my commission in cash to put into the fund. They also organised a raffle, which raised some extra money, and the demonstrator also donated part of her commission.’
At the end of an enjoyable but tiring year of office, Sam has passed the title of Town Mayor on to her successor, but she still has a few words of advice for other fundraisers.
‘Network! The more events I attended and helped to organise, the more people got to know me and the more offers of help and support I received. One thing kept leading to another and the money just flooded in.
‘And remember – it doesn’t need to be a huge event to make money. Think about what your friends and family would enjoy as well as your local community and you’ll be half-way there.’
Sam Maxwell – a year supporting the National Eczema Society (this article has been reproduced with the kind permission of the National Eczema Society)
Mrs Maxwell, Former Town Mayor
Congratulations to Mrs Sam Maxwell who raised a remarkable £5,041 towards the National Eczema Society. Thank you to all those who haven given Mrs Maxwell support during the year.
The National Eczema Society was formed in 1975 when a newspaper article, prompting a large public response, indicated a vital need for an information and support service for people with eczema and their carers. The Society has grown to provide a comprehensive information and advice service, an expanding network of local support, funds for research and a campaigning voice on behalf of people with eczema.
Further information on the work of The National Eczema Society can be found by visiting their website at www.eczema.org or Mrs Maxwell would be pleased to talk to you about her chosen charity.
Any donations to the Town Mayor’s charity to help in her supporting this valuable cause are most welcome. Cheques should be made out to Braunstone Town Council and sent to The Town Mayor’s Charity, Braunstone Town Council, Braunstone Civic Centre, Kingsway, Braunstone Town, Leicester, LE3 2PP.
Alternatively, if you would like to get involved with any of Mrs Maxwell’s fundraising events, please contact her on 0116 2916740. You are also most welcome to attend on of the Town Mayor’s Annual Programme Events which raise funds for her charity and for other local good causes, details of which are to be published shortly.
Donation of Artwork to Raise Funds For Town Mayor's Charity
The above piece of artwork has kindly been donated by Phil Fox, Steve Baker and Julian Roger to raise funds for the Town Mayor's Charity. The artwork, combined by the three artists, will be raffled off by Mrs Maxwell in the near future.
Living Well Health Club 6 Month Voucher
LivingWell Health Club has generously donated a 6 Month Voucher for 2 people for their Health Club at the Hilton Hotel. The voucher is to the value of £582 and the prize will be raffled by the Town Mayor as part of her grand raffle (details to be published soon).
"Got to be Seen to be Heard"
Mrs Maxwell attended the Official opening of an Art and Poetry Exhibition at Braunstone Civic Centre on Tuesday 6th June. The exhibition was being held as part of the Blaby District Council's Annual Art Festival. Artists Steve Baker and Julian Roger have combined their art work with poet Phil Fox to offer an exciting exhibition at the Civic Centre. All the art work including the poetry is available for sale at the Centre. The art exhibition will be open to the public from 3rd to 10th June.
Mrs Maxwell was pleased to receive a donation of art work from the three artists for her grand raffle which she is organising to raise funds for her chosen charity - the National Eczema Society
Walk for Skin Sponsored Walk
On 14th May Mrs Maxwell was pleased to take part in the 'Walk for Skin' sponsored walk at Wollaton Park. She successfully raised £300 which will be split between the National Eczema Society and the British Skin Foundation.
11th June - The Centenary Celebrations of the Christchurch
15th June - Mrs Maxwell welcomed delegates to the Leicestershire & Rutland Association of Parish & Local Council's Annual Meeting at the Braunstone Civic Centre
3rd July - Mrs Maxwell was welcomed to the Thorpe Astley Summer Fair
6th July - Mrs Maxwell accompanied Mr P Reyat, Town Mayor during 2003/2004 in presenting cheques from his Youth Fund to local youth groups. Shown here are Mr Simon Falkner of the 4th Leicester Scout Group, Fern Clarke & Alison Ide of the
3rd Braunstone Guides, and Daniel Snell of the Braunstone Town Youth Council.
24th June - The Town Mayor will be opening the Kingsway School Fete
25th June - The Punjabi Charitable Society's Dinner & Dance Evening
29th June - At Winstanley School's Curriculum Awards Evening to present their Annual Awards.
3rd September - The Town Mayor was delighted to attend the 100th Birthday Celebrations of Mrs Olive Tinson of Braunstone Town.
5th September - The Town Mayor presented a cheque to members of the Youth Council for £330 towards DJ equipment from CAFFY
16th September - St John Ambulanbce Grand Charity Ball
17th September - The Royal British Legion's Fesitival of Remembrance at De Montfort Hall.
On Saturday 30th September the Town Mayor carried out a street collection outside Asda at Fosse Park and was successful in raising £466 towards the National Eczema Society. Mrs Maxwell would like to thank all those who donated and especially those who assisted her in the collection.
7th October - Official Launch of the new Braunstone Community Minibus
27th October - All Saints Parish Church for service hosted by the Chair of Leicestershire County Council
29th October - St Peters Church, Service hosted by the Chair of Blaby District Council
3rd November - The Town Mayor hosted a Psychic Fare at the Braunstone Civic Centre
4th November - The Royal Air Forces Association - Battle of Britain Parade
7th November - Shakespeare Park Bowling Club Annual Dinner
15th November - The Town Mayor hosted a reception for the Braunstone Town Neighbourhood Watch Scheme Co-ordinators at which they also held their Annual Meeting.
19th November - The Town Mayor hosted a Craft Fair at Braunstone Civic Centre with over 30 stalls selling a wide variety of quality crafts and goods including crystals and gems, knitted goods, christmas gifts, soaps, embroidery, quilting, cakes, cards, flower arrangements and much more. Over 200 people visited the Craft Fair which will now become an annual event.
Remembrance Day at St Peter's Church
12th November - The Town Mayor attended the Royal British Legion's Annual Remembrance Service at St Peters Church followed by a reception at the Braunstone Civic Centre
Neighbourhood Watch Town Watchers Meeting
The Town Mayor was delighted to host an evening for the Braunstone Town Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators to thank them for their continued hard work in promoting NHW initiatives in Braunstone Town. The evening commenced with the Annual Meeting of the Town Watchers with a high turnout of Co-ordinators and representatives from the Police. The Town Mayor was pleased to note that crime statistics for the Town were continuing to drop to which the Co-ordinators played an important contribution.
17th February - The Town Mayor attended the Ceilidh & Haggis Supper at the Civic Centre
10th March - 60s and 70s Tribute Night with proceeds going towards the Town Mayor's Charity
14th April - Fashion and Beauty Evening 6.00pm till 10.00pm at Braunstone Civic Centre. The Town Mayor organised a fashion show and beauty evening at Braunstone Civic Centre with tables selling beauty products, jewellery, treatments etc. The Town Mayor was pleased to raise approximately £150 from the evening.
CIVIC FUNCTION AND AWARDS OF MERIT
20th April - Annual Awards Night and Grand Raffle Prize Draw. The Town Mayor hosted the annual Civic Function and Awards Night at Braunstone Civic Centre on Friday 20th April 2007. Mrs Maxwell was pleased to present cheques to groups being the net proceeds from the Programme of Events 2006/2007. She also presented a cheque for over £4000 to the National Eczema Society being the funds raised to date for her chosen charity. Guests were entertained with music from "Sounds Interesting" whilst enjoying a buffet and refreshments. The Town Mayor was then pleased to present Awards of Merit to four local residents who she felt had contributed to the local community.
Awards were presented to Elaine Dexter, Yvonne Dudley, Chris Florence and Daniel Aitchison.
Finally Mrs Maxwell drew the prize winning tickets for her Grand Raffle that she has been running for several months.
4th May - One of the Town Mayor's last official events will be to host a Vashaki Celebration in conjunction with the Punjabi Charitable Society on Friday 4th May, 7.00pm till 10.30pm. The evening will include a hot meal and entertainment. Tickets for the event are £6.00 for adults and £4.00 for concessions and are available from Braunstone Civic Centre