England and Company’s Cheryl Lawes discusses her involvement with the Bowra Foundation and offers advice to others considering becoming a trustee of a charity.
Last week you joined Mark Bowra on Day 30 of his Bowra1000 challenge. Do you want to start by telling us a little bit more about Mark and The Bowra Foundation?
Mark is a remarkable character; I can honestly say it has been a humbling experience getting to know him.
For those of you that don’t know Mark was a decorated officer in the Special Forces when he suffered a major stroke in 2014, which hospitalised him for an entire year.
Mark’s road to recovery in itself has been pretty remarkable, just two years after his stroke he was competing in the Invictus Games! But what I find so impressive is his unwavering determination to help others.
Now through The Bowra Foundation, Mark aims to inspire resilience and independence to others suffering from neurological disorders.
You were invited to become a trustee for the charity, how did your involvement come about?
I have quite a few clients here at England and Company that are ex-military, many of whom had served or knew Mark.
When they heard he was launching The Bowra Foundation, several urged me to get involved, as you can imagine they are a pretty tough bunch to say no to!
But in all honesty, I didn’t take much persuading.
Lockdown hasn’t held Mark back in completing his Bowra1000 challenge, do you want to tell us a little more on that?
Building on his own experiences of recovering from a stroke, Mark devised the Bowra Bag. It’s essential a bag/ a toolkit that The Bowra Foundation works with partners and healthcare practitioners to get to stroke victims and those suffering neurological disorders, at the earliest opportunity. Inside the bag are a variety of items all specially designed to aid rehabilitation, communication and independence.
Everything that Mark found useful or wished he’d been given in the early days following his stroke.
The Bowra1000 challenge was all arranged prior to Covid-19 as a way of fundraising for the bags, but also so fellow stroke victims could join Mark on this journey and feel involved in a supportive community. Mark was due to cycle, swim, paddle and walk his way from John O’Groats to Lands End.
As you can imagine, Mark was not going to let the mere matter of lockdown hold him back from completing the challenge. So with slight adjustments to planning, he has been on a mission to complete the same distance all within the local area over the last month.
Several well-known figures including Mark Webber, ex-Formula 1 driver, Jason Fox from SAS: Who Dares Wins and Aldo Kane have joined Mark (at a safe-social distance) on various days throughout the challenge.
And on Day 30, Mark had the absolute pleasure of being joined by myself along with Dolly and Pip!
What advice would you give to anyone considering becoming a trustee of a charity?
I am a trustee of two separate charities. It is a responsibility and you need to be clear on your role. Charity work is always positioned as being about ‘giving back’. And yes I do use my professional experience to give advice that assists and I ensure the money generated for good causes is treated with respect. But genuinely I can say I get so much back from being on a team with selfless people who are only seeking to do good. So my advice is to pick a cause you feel a connection with and get involved.
Finally, if people would like to donate to The Bowra Foundation, how can they help?
You can read more on Mark and The Bowra Foundation at http://bowra-foundation.org/
Director at England & Company
Get in touch 01202 880384 or firstname.lastname@example.org