Mike celebrates a special birthday with Meso UK

In these times of social distancing, home working, lockdowns and self-isolation, fundraising for charity is a real challenge. Many traditional fundraising events and initiatives aren’t physically possible in the current environment, so we have to take a different approach.

One such pioneer is Mike Wilkes, who had a lightbulb moment when considering how to celebrate his 73rd birthday on 5 May this year. Instead of accepting presents from family, Mike decided to take this unique opportunity to make a difference by donating the proceeds from family present-buying to charity.

Mike, father of Southampton-based Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialist, Helen Wilkes, sent a WhatsApp message to his family group including four children, brothers and sisters, suggesting that in lieu of a physical present to him, they donate a sum to Meso UK this year.

As well as his connection to Helen, Mike also has a background in the asbestos industry, having worked in an asbestos cement factory, then in the construction industry, dealing with asbestos removal and asbestos trade associations.

Mike said: “We are happy to do anything that we can to help Helen’s charity, particularly in these troubled times when so many people are working so hard to look after us.

“Although we don’t feel it, my wife, Margaret and I are classified as vulnerable as we are in our 70s so are in isolation, except for our daily walk over the fields. We feel impotent that we can’t go out and support those that we see as needing help so getting my family to donate to Mesothelioma UK, rather than giving birthday presents, seemed just a small thing that I could do at this time.”

Helen commented: “I was really touched by my Dad’s thoughtful gesture.”

Liz Darlison, Head of Services at Mesothelioma UK added: “Mike is wonderful for thinking of us in this trying time and we thank him and his family from the bottom of our hearts for their kind gesture. We understand that the donations have already run into hundreds of pounds so we wish Mike a very special birthday this year!”