Today marks the first anniversary of a unique fundraising idea to raise money for FORCE.
The Fez campaign led by Martin Lynn has brought in close to £20,000.
It’s a remarkable achievement by the Exeter father-of-three, who is battling a rare cancer of the immune system.
He and some of his close lieutenants in the Fez Army got together for a celebratory lunch to mark the occasion and begin planning for the next year.
“It’s been the most incredible 12 months of my life,” said Martin. “May 28th 2014 was the day I walked into FORCE, armed with my fez and a ‘Keep calm and wear a fez’ canvas. I was greeted by Naomi (Cole) who probably thought I had escaped from a secure unit! Random idea, different, but it has worked beyond my wildest dreams. The campaign has gone so well I sometimes forget that I squeezed in 42 weeks of chemotherapy in London at the same time.”
The original plan involved declaring Sunday August 24 2014 as Fezmas Day – Christmas Day with a twist with Christmas trees, Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, Christmas jumpers, music, crackers and festive films but no paper hats. The difference was, everyone taking part wore a fez, preferably with a bit of tinsel on it.
Martin and a group of friends and family got together in Exeter for some fez-tide fun and similar celebrations went on around Britain and overseas. The response was incredible. Fezmas Day raised nearly £9,000 with all the money coming to FORCE.
“The interest was overwhelming so we threw in other ideas. Fezbands, a rugby day, a golf day, tattoos, a talent show and so on. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people who are supporting the cause. It’s exciting, it’s fulfilling, rewarding and it’s brought so much laughter along the way it’s unbelievable. So many people have been brought closer together through it,” said Martin.
He is astounded by the generosity people have shown but one comment from FORCE fundraiser Naomi Cole stands out for him.
“She said ‘Thanks to you, more people know we are here.’ That will always always stick with me. It’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me,” he said.
“The Fez Army is gaining momentum rapidly, the awareness is growing daily, and not one thing we do is done without a smile .There are too many people to thank individually, hundreds now being involved!
“My aim at the start was to make people know that it’s acceptable to seek help after a brutal regime of cancer treatment. To me what FORCE offers is equally important as the treatment we all go through in the hospital. I left it a little bit late, but not too late.
“This cancer world has battered me physically and mentally but the fulfilment I’m getting from the fez madness is softening the blow considerably.
“Long Live The Fez!”