Do you know someone like Paula? Paula delivers babies on weekdays, runs marathons on weekends and falls from the sky when she finds the time to board an aircraft and put a parachute on, all in the name of charity. To date, Paula has raised a little over £25,000 for varied causes.
Oh, and she brought the Ice Bucket Challenge to the UK, which raised over £7 million for charity. This is Paula Maguire, our ParcelHero Everyday Hero Winner 2015.
View the other ParcelHero Everyday Heroes 2015 at the bottom of the article.
Paula’s nomination was instantly eye-catching as her husband reeled off a volunteering timeline of events, achievements and moments. Our mother of two from West Yorkshire has risen thousands of pounds for doing marathons, sponsored walks and muddy adventures. Paula was also one of the first to complete the Ice Bucket Challenge here in the UK. After establishing the JustGiving donation page, complete with a recording of her being drenched in icy water, Paula sparked the next IBC trend and rose over £4 million for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA). The charity then received a further £3 million during August 2014, all thanks to a Paula’s video.
“Every time the JustGiving page reached another milestone I was so happy and also so grateful” describes Paula, “there were lots of tears and I was stunned when the page reached the first million and then continued to grow. It was just so unexpected.”
Paula has a personal connection with MNDA. In 2009 her Uncle was diagnosed with MND. After losing him only 9 weeks later, Paula was inspired to raise as much money as possible to combat this deadly disease that so unexpectedly creeped up on them: “I wanted to make a difference to those living with MND.”
While Paula continues to fund raise for the treatment of MND she is also a full-time NHS Midwife. Her career delivering the worlds newborns actually provided her first chance to get involved in charity work.
In 2004, Paula raised £2,500 for the local hospice, “and this made me realise how important their work is and how much they rely on donations from everyone. This made me realise that I could give my time and help raise vital funds.”
Balancing being a Midwife as well as volunteering so readily as Paula does represents in itself the dedication our Everyday Hero has to helping those around her. Luckily, it forms a big part of her families life, too.
As Paula says: “My family join me in the charity work and this is great as it brings us all together and enables us to spend time together doing something we love.” Paula’s dedication doesn’t shy away at work, either: “Midwifery is brilliant as it is very diverse. I aim to make sure that every woman I support has the best birth experience she can possibly have.
“Seeing a woman and her partner take their baby home to begin their lives as a family are very treasured moments of mine, and this is something that always makes me smile.”
A defining quality of Paula is her desire to overcome a challenge. Last July Paula experienced one of the hardest fund-raising events to date. “I did the 100k Race to the Stones (along the ridgeway). I wanted to complete this in around 30 hours. as it happened it took me 25hrs and 2 minutes,” she said.
“Walking through the night in the dark, through fields that were wet and contained cows was very surreal and tough. I was absolutely shattered when I finished, but I did manage to sprint across the finish line to be greeted by my family and a group of friends.”
Although opportunities like the Ice Bucket Challenge offer an easily accessible way to donate money to Charity for all of us, it is people like Paula who are continuously challenging not only themselves to help the world around them, but others, too.
“You don’t have be a sporty person,” begins Paula, when we asked how others should get involved more in volunteering. “You can give as much or as little time as you wish. The important thing is to do something you enjoy. This way, your enthusiasm shines and this encourages others to join in.
“Seeing someone you have helped smile or knowing you have made a difference is so rewarding and it doesn’t have to cost anything.”
It seems quite clear that people like Paula and all of our Everyday Heroes simply want to make the world a better place to live in. “A world ultimately free of MND would be fantastic,” explains Paula, describing her perfect world. “I want everyone to know what this disease is, what it does and how it affects the human body.
“I saw what this did to my uncle and I have friends who are currently living with MND.”
These friends are what drives Paula forward to keep raising money and awareness for MND. When the pain of exhaustion kicks in, Paula thinks of the pain of those suffering from the disease which inspires her to keep moving.
Talking to someone like Paula it is hard to predict what kind of future events she has planned that could even come close to what she has already achieved, but I had to ask anyway.
So, Paula, what’s next for your on the fund-raising calendar?
“I have at least 6 running events booked in. These range from 10k’s to half marathons. I do plan on doing another 100k in the next couple of years, but I want to do a wing walk first. I have jumped out of a plane, but now I want to be standing on top of the plane!”
We wish you the best of luck, Paula.
The ParcelHero Everyday Heroes 2015 Finalists
Dean Keable was nominated by his friend Carol for his remarkable work with the Freddie Farmer Foundation, a children’s disability charity. Every year, Dean organises a charity cycle to raise money for the foundation, and to make things a little more interesting, Dean arranges for the cycles to take place overseas. Last year, Dean raised over £26,000 for a ride through Germany, Holland and Belgium.
87 year old John Dunne is not only adored by his family, but by the community of disabled athletes and sporting people he has coached and developed back into winning shape; with some even going on to win Paralympic bronze and silver medals.