In August, we welcomed Lewis Ilman to our team as our full-time National Events Fundraiser.
Lewis is responsible for supporting our large team of runners, across a number of national events including London Marathon and Great North Run.
He is their point of call for all information and advice from the point they sign up, throughout their fundraising, right through to race day and celebrating their achievements.
Lewis is no stranger to fundraising – having ran London Marathon in 2020 and 2021 before joining us, he has firsthand experience on how supporters play a hugely important role in funding the work charities do.
We caught up with him to find out more about his life and role.
What made you want to join Meningitis Research Foundation?
I recall a teacher at primary school losing her son to the meningitis, a friend at university suffering from a related illness, and a family friend sadly passing away in a short period of time, after contracting septicaemia. So, meningitis has impacted my life greatly, without having the profile and visibility which other diseases have.
What was your background before Meningitis Research Foundation?
I worked in politics initially, then in dispute resolution at the Financial Ombudsman, before progressing into financial compliance.
I held roles for firms including a European based clearing house, UK brokerage, and a consultancy representing clients such as Revolut, Santander, and an array of medium-to-large sized financial companies.
Each of these roles revolved around fostering positive relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, which is very relatable to my role with our fundraisers who stem from all walks of life.
The chance to ‘make a difference’ was also a big factor in wanting to work in a charity and specifically for Meningitis Research Foundation.
What is your role and what does it involve?
As the National Event Fundraiser, I find myself often chatting to fundraisers, sorting budgets, creating newsletters, booking massages (for runners!), getting recruitment plans for events in place, and making sure anyone is registered and has the required information to enjoy their chosen event. Just a few of the never-ending list of, but enjoyable tasks to be done.
What is your favourite thing about the job?
It’s amazing to see runners achieve more than they thought was possible. Raising money to help defeat meningitis, training for and finishing an event, and having fun at the same time, is a challenge but once achieved runners are so full of joy. It’s great to witness.
What sparked your interest in national events?
Having ran two London Marathons as a charity runner for different organisations, I’ve had two contrasting experiences. One charity had a nationwide standing with multiple event staff, and one was small charity with obviously limited resource.
Surprisingly, I had a considerably better experience, in terms of support, communication, and being a ‘person’ not just a ‘number’ from the smaller charity.
So, I hope to bring the supportive team feeling to our Team MRF runners. Whether our runners have positive or bad news to share, I will always be there to listen to any issues team members have and offer help and support.
As a once avid runner many moons ago, what advice would you give to people training for a marathon or wanting to sign up to one?
Thanks for the ‘many moons ago’ part of the question, although it feels like it!
I ran the London Marathon twice. I initially gave myself a set time to achieve and had a detailed training schedule. But injury made me consider deferring to the next year or pulling out.
However, I had a fantastic time soaking up the atmosphere of the day, the race, and all the support I received from supporters along the route. I won’t tell you my eventual finish times, but I did occasionally have that slight concern that the race would finish before I did!
If anyone is interested in doing the London Marathon or any other running event, we have teamed up with a fantastic training app called Coopah. It’s personalised to each runner’s individuals’ goals and aims and adjusts your training plan if you miss a session or want to alter your set race time. It also provides one to one support to you directly from its coaches, and training videos to help you perfect technique.
This would have helped me with training, and goal setting during my preparations whilst I was recovering from a few niggles. MRF has partnered with Coopah to provide access to any of our fundraisers who make a small donation of £15 to MRF - We are 100% here for any fundraising advice and needs you may have, but I would leave the solid running advice to the experts.
What is an interesting fact about you that few people know?
I was once told by an Assistant Director I was taking the attention away from Brad Pitt whilst working as an extra.
What is something you didn’t know about meningitis before working here, but think others should know now?
All the signs and symptoms are so useful to know. There is useful information on our website for everyone to read.
Outside of Meningitis Research Foundation, what are your hobbies?
I play five-a-side football weekly, enjoy the odd gardening session (3 or 4 times a week… maybe I should call it an obsession rather than session…), and have been given a wood whittling kit, which I have opened, so maybe counts as hobby?
If you have any questions or want to take part in a national event, you can email Lewis at email@example.com