room full of people watching a band on stage

In memory fundraiser “Jake’s Wish” raises thousands to support bereaved families

Sarah McCormack and her family started organising a fundraising event – “Jake’s Wish” in 2019, following the devastating loss of her nephew Jake in 2014. The family were heartbroken and decided to raise funds for Winston’s Wish, to help make sure that other families facing the death of a loved one could access the support they needed.

After a few years of organising some great fundraising events, Sarah wanted to organise something bigger and decided on a ticketed event, with entertainment including delicious food, musical performances and an auction. The event was so successful that they decided to hold it annually, and, despite the pandemic halting some of their plans, Sarah and her family have raised more than £25,000 to support grieving children, young people and families.

We asked Sarah more about how it all started, how the event has developed over the years and what advice she would give other people considering setting up a ticketed fundraising event in their community.

Sarah with her mum, both smiling at the camera and wearing white tops

Sarah with her mum, who plays a huge role in planning and organising the event each year, who she describes as the “real muscle” behind Jake’s Wish.

Can you tell us more about deciding to organise the first Jake’s Wish event?

When we lost Jake we all felt totally helpless, among the usual feelings of sadness, heartbreak and “what if”, but what we knew for sure is that we never wanted anyone to go through what we were feeling – totally alone with no help in our grief. So we decided to raise money for Winston’s Wish to help other families like ours. Our hearts will always be broken but we can help to heal, even if a little, others.

How long have you been running the event and how has it changed over the years?

I started fundraising eight years ago for Winston’s wish with quiz nights, race nights, cake sales and a family fun day, then in 2019 we decided to do an evening event which my son named “Jakes Wish”. It was a massive success and we had planned to do another one in 2020 and again in 2021, but Covid struck and we had to improvise.  To be able to come back this year was just amazing.

It was a fabulous night and funds raised were the best so far! We were so lucky to have a main sponsor this year, Debbie Fortune Estate Agents: Their generosity enabled us to raise the most we ever have at one event!

We are also very lucky that we have a massive amount of support from our community, without them none of it would be possible.

What has been the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of your fundraising journey?

The most challenging has to be fundraising through the pandemic, that was hard. People were furloughed, worried about theirs and their family’s health, it was a tough time for everyone.  However, we still managed to raise a great sum of money and that was thanks to everyone who supported.

The most rewarding part is knowing the money raised will help lots of children and their families, exactly what we set out to do.

two photos, left is a man and woman smiling at camera sat at white table, right is a large group of people sat at a white table smiling towards the camera

The 2022 event raised the most of any Jake’s Wish evening to date

Have there been any particular stand out moments from this year’s or past events that you’d like to share with us?

There are so many!! Each year people’s generosity never ceases to amaze me before and during the event, it’s just amazing as well as the kindness, generosity and support from fabulous friends and family.  The businesses, musicians (The Leylines, Harrisen Larner-Main) venues (The Royal Hotel and previously Hornets Rugby Club) who support us.

Somerset Signing & Framing who are huge supporters of Jakes Wish and have supported us since 2018 and have made a huge impact to our fundraising.

We really have made some wonderful friends along the way, for that I am forever grateful.

several jars of sweets on a round table with white tablecloth

Tasty treats for the guests to enjoy

Do you have any advice for people looking to host this type of fundraising event?

  • Secure your venue and use local or family run. We used The Royal Hotel in Weston super Mare were amazing, nothing was too much trouble and the food was amazing.
  • Personalise your requests – don’t be afraid to share your story with businesses you are asking for donations from.
  • Secure a main sponsor or various businesses to sponsor tables.
  • Add little touches of your lost loved one – we named the event after Jake and also we use his favourite things like places, food, dog’s names for the winning prizes. It means something to us and shares a little bit with the guests without making anyone sad.

Huge thanks to Sarah, her mum, family and friends for their amazing support over the years and the staggering effort that they have put into creating such a successful community event. Congratulations to all of you and we hope that everyone who attended this year had a wonderful evening.

If you’d like to set up your own fundraising event to support Winston’s Wish, let the fundraising team know so they can support you on your fundraising journey.