In relation to this story, RollOnFriday asked Paul Verrico for a comment about his charity Team Verrico:
"I joined Eversheds in 2004 as a wide-eyed trainee, taking the long way round – working class, late to university, number of super mundane jobs (window cleaning, pot washing and market stall-holding all feature). I met and married my wife when I was 19 and she supported me, working as an accountant whilst I pursued my law dream.
In the summer of 2012 we thought we had ‘golden tickets’ to this thing called life. Anna was a financial controller at an international food giant and I was about to enter the Partnership process. We had a baby boy and a toddler girl and everything was rosy – then boom.
Out of nowhere, a lump and a dark tunnel of grief, guilt, anger, denial, fear, isolation and anxiety. Colliding together in a hideous kaleidoscope of blind terror, the quest to get better was a journey filled with monsters, cliffs and boogeymen. For a couple who were used to clawing their way over obstacles, we faced the illness with ferocity and every possible medical science known to man. In May 2013, we thought we had vanquished the foe and Anna started training for a half marathon. Four months later, a ‘chest infection’ turned out to be a lung metastasis and she died eight weeks later.
Big law firms often get a bad press but Eversheds were (and continue to be) amazing. I was supported through Anna’s illness by my international colleagues, who were actively looking for new treatments around Europe, and then encouraged to continue to apply for Partnership, which I attained in 2016. I work a flexible four-day week; my client contacts know the back story and are incredibly forgiving when childcare turns into a disaster.
As a litigator, I found it hard to accept that we had ‘lost’ the most important fight of our lives. And that’s where Team Verrico sprang from. I couldn’t control the events that had happened to us, but I could decide not to be reduced by them. We used to have a quote on the wall of our first flat that said ‘we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are thrown down, but not destroyed’ and I used that as fuel to create a volunteer charity that specifically helps families with children under the age of 18 where a parent gets cancer. Team Verrico’s mission is to fight alongside those afflicted to achieve positive outcomes, bringing hope where there is none, creating ‘more tomorrows.’
We support men and women who face a rare or hard to treat cancer by sending them for private consultations with the leading oncologists and surgeons in the UK – this often results in a change to treatment plans. The charity also fund genetic testing and other scientifically proven methods of treating the disease.
The charity supports those affected by counselling through the diagnosis and beyond, also offering support such as childcare on chemotherapy days or a cleaner to help during intensive treatment; hotel stays for a spouse where a family member is receiving treatment hundreds of miles away or food parcels in the immediate aftermath of a death.
Finally, we support niche research projects which do not receive funding from Cancer Research as they either focus on rare cancers or are too small to attract funding. The charity currently has projects running at University of Sheffield, University of Brighton and Cardiff University.
Is it easy? No. Does it help me think it hasn’t been all in vain? Yes. Awards like the ‘Points of Light’ accolade are helpful in raising our profile as we don’t have a marketing budget.
Can ROF readers help? Absolutely. The ethos of the charity is ‘no salary, low overheads’ – we don’t have offices or staff – but we do need good people to help widen our network and make sure that all those who might need us know we exist. It would be great to hear from others."
RollOnFriday also asked Paul how he managed to raise £500,000. He said:
"There’s no real magic – we found that a lot of folk find the ethos of the charity quite appealing. A review of 2018 is here and 2016 here (featuring lawyer Emily Christelow, another Solicitor, who is the Charity’s Head of Fundraising).
We tend to find that if we help a family with treatment options or support a child after the loss of a parent, the family and friends of the individual want to in some way pay it forward. No-one is under any obligation whatsoever, but a lot of folk feel duty-bound to help the next person in the chain. If someone has a 6 week life expectancy and is still sending Christmas cards 2 years later, it’s probably not a surprise that their close circle want to fundraise through sponsored events etc.
Shortly before her death, the organisers of the half marathon which Anna had been training so hard for put on a ‘fun run’ one mile of the course so she could participate, loosely organised for 10 minutes before the main event. We couldn’t get a formal road closure as the decision to do this was too late for the council to approve it. Instead, virtually the whole town of Epworth congregated along the route, dressed in pink, to provide a physical barrier to stop traffic. Anna strapped her trainers on and pushed her babies along the route, even at one point muttering to me ‘they’ve all turned out for us, we’d better not walk’ – the following day she needed major surgery to drain one of her lungs which was full of fluid. The same people turned out 9 weeks later, this time dressed in black, to observe the solemn funeral cortege. Since that date, the organiser of the half marathon joined our senior team, the event became the ‘Anna Verrico Half Marathon’ and you can enter it here. Promotional vid here.
We also host a charity ball, tickets for which are on sale here.
We are always looking for corporate partnerships – we’ve been fortunate to benefit from the largesse of Sainsbury’s, Doncaster Lakeside and Caddick Developments, as well, of course, as Eversheds Sutherland. Our print room, Ricoh, help by printing charity leaflets free of charge.
Finally, just 3 days before she died, Anna led her home town football team out with our daughter, Lucia. It was a fairly profound moment as she’d died and was buried before the next home game. Scunthorpe United sacked their manager the night Anna died – the new man went on to set a world record for the longest unbeaten sequence of any new manager. The team wore Team Verrico wrist bands as they went on to clinch promotion and they have also been a stalwart of the new charity, with the chairman personally putting his hand in his pocket to make good on a promise he made Anna to support us. Every year the club invite ‘legends’ to play against fans and that raises some revenue too.
That’s it really – hard work and people getting together behind a cause that they believe in."