As New Year resolutions go, losing weight is a fairly ordinary one. But add to that skydiving and raising funds to support one day of end of life care and something quite extraordinary happens.  In January 2015, John Taylor Hospice CEO Kate Phipps set a sky-scraping personal fundraising target of £14,000 – enough to fund the hospice and all its services for 24 hours.
 “We’re fortunate at John Taylor Hospice to have so many people believing in us and investing in us,” said Kate, who has been chief executive officer at the hospice since 2011.
“The generosity of people in our community and the support we’ve had from our corporate partners has been immense. To all of you, I’d like to say a huge thank you. You are John Taylor Hospice.”
On her JustGiving page, Kate invited people to make donations, or “drops”, to help her “drop like a stone in more ways than one”. Leading from the front with her New Year’s resolution, Kate’s first challenge was to drop 41lbs.
She explained: “For safety reasons, there’s a limit to what your body mass index can be on a skydive and it’s set in stone by the skydiving centre. Everyone who wants to jump has to be under that limit.
“That was the best possible incentive for me to drop the weight that there could possibly be. I had to reach that magic BMI or they wouldn’t let me do it.”
Kate reached the required BMI mainly through walking and cycling, supported by family and friends.
“At first, I really felt the burn on my legs and it was just so cold and windy that I was always relieved to see my own front door again,” she said. “By February I had a few cycling routes picked out which also included a trip to my favourite coffee house and I was beginning to really enjoy it.”
After eight months of dieting with her feet firmly on the ground, the plucky CEO demonstrated her head for heights by falling 10,000ft on a tandem skydive.
Kate’s challenge was inspired by a team from Connect Distribution – who set the bar high with a fundraising target of £14,000, aiming to fund one day of care at the hospice. Raising this sum for one person’s fundraising challenge alone hadn’t been attempted before.
“It was only when we’d achieved more than 7% of our target in as many days that I began to realise that the £14,000 really could be possible – that was a very special feeling,” said Kate. “It really is humbling knowing how much people go out of their way to support John Taylor Hospice.”
Donations from tax payers attracted a 25% contribution from the UK Government through Gift Aid.
With more than 167 donations totalling an amazing sum of £15,191, Kate smashed her fundraising target on 30 November. The money funded everything John Taylor Hospice did on Christmas Eve, a full 24 hours of expert palliative care at the hospice and at home across the Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.
“There are few times of year when illness and pain is felt more deeply,” said Kate. “To the people we care for, they tell us just being there for them when they need us means everything.”
At 8am on Christmas Eve morning, staff who have spent the night nursing will be on their way home and the hospice’s breakfast service will begin. By 1pm, John Taylor’s day hospice will be in full swing, with visitors tucking into a Christmas meal or taking part in games and activities.
The hospice also has teams on hand to care for people across the West Midlands, enabling them to have Christmas in their own homes with their families if that is their wish.
Over the past twelve months, Kate has created her very own Christmas fundraising song.
“It goes a little something like this,” she started. “Twelve months of walking, eleven months networking, ten family backers, nine months of swimming, eight 12-mile bike rides, seven superstore pop-ups, six football shirt competition days, five-week Christmas cake raffle, four corporate partners, three table top sales, 200 individual donations and a walk along Norfolk coast.”
With 2016 just around the corner, Kate reflected on the many ways in which the hospice is able to carry on its important work, thanks in a large part to the support it receives from local communities.
Kate said: “When I think about the drop and the money people have donated, being able to fund 24 hours of hospice care is a story that belongs to each and every person who supported me this year. It also belongs to all of the staff and volunteers who make sure every moment matters at John Taylor Hospice every day.
“And none of it would have been possible without the help of my colleague Jan Nevett – so it’s her story too.”
Community and corporate development assistant Jan Nevett helped to coordinate the campaign.
Jan said: “We’re all incredibly proud of what we have achieved for John Taylor Hospice with Kate’s challenge. People have been really inspired by the drop.
“As supporters have made donation after donation into the online and offline fundraising pots, one thing that has never stopped climbing is the amount raised for John Taylor Hospice: we all whooped when Kate reached her personal fundraising target of £14,000 and still more money is coming in.
“Together with the rest of the Community Investment Crew, we’re here to help anyone who would like to set their own challenge in order to raise funds for the hospice in 2016 – please get in touch we’ll support you all the way.”
For more information about fundraising for John Taylor Hospice, visit or call the Community Investment Crew on 0121 465 2000.