ST Cuthbert’s Hospice is a place close to the hearts of many.
Since opening its doors in 1998, it has provided a lifeline to thousands of people living across North Durham with many devastated relatives and friends of lost loved ones determined to give something back.
Each year, the hospice has to raise £1.2 million to operate, with much of the cash coming from events and fundraisers carried out by kind-hearted donors.
The latest drive has seen a group of friends, families and work colleagues dare to bare all in two glossy Calendar Girls-style calendars to raise cash for a Kilimanjaro trek in aid of the hospice.
Graham Duncan and David Hardy will take on the gruelling challenge in October 2012 and are hoping to raise at least £3,000 from the calendars.
To help make their mission possible, 12 dedicated women gathered in a studio to produce a series of cheeky snaps to help the 30-year-olds get one step closer to their £8,000 total target.
The Durham city-based hospice is a charity close to Graham’s heart after his mum, Karen Duncan, 50, spent some of her final days there before losing her battle with breast cancer in 2008.
He said: “The time she spent in St Cuthbert’s Hospice made me and my family realise what a tremendous valuable service the staff team offer and that they deserve all the support they can get.”
Graham and David’s once-in-a-lifetime challenge will involve spending two days working on a local community project, such as an orphanage or school, before trekking to the summit of the world’s largest free-standing mountain.
Joanne Reynolds, one of Graham’s pals, took the calendar under her wing after being moved by the efforts of Graham, from Beamish, and David, of Pelton.
Her fiance Mark Smith, 48, died at the hospice in July earlier this year after also losing his fight with the disease.
After hearing about the calendar, 14 of Graham’s work pals at a Sunderland-based care company have volunteered their time to produce a second calendar.
The calendar is aimed at their friends, families and workmates across the city.
Each of the women involved have volunteered their spare time producing their own photos in a host of venues, including caravan lockup yards, ice cream parlours, pottery studios and their own back gardens.
Graham said: “It is amazing how many people have come together to help us fund-raise.
“It proves that there are still a lot of generous and caring people in the world and that good community spirit still exists.
“Most of the people who have helped with the calendars and overall fund-raising did not know each other at first but have bonded and forged great friendships and effective, driven fundraising groups.”
The calendars are £10 plus postage costs.
For details on how to buy them, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Graham on 07725 016186.
They are also available at The Market Tavern, Chester-le-Street and Spar, High Street, Carville, Durham.
To make a donation to the trek, go to www.justgiving.com/kilimanjaro-summit-massive.