Anita D’Attellis has raised an incredible £14,974 for a charity close to her heart, by holding a series of piano concerts and completing a series of running challenges.
Anita, a solo pianist, chamber musician and accompanist has raised the funds in memory of her husband, John Downing, in support of Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire which cared for him.
“Sue Ryder was invaluable when my husband, John, was ill,” Anita shares. “I can’t imagine how I might have coped if they had not been around supporting us. John had cancer and when his condition began to deteriorate the Sue Ryder teams did all they could to help keep John at home. It meant that we were able to be together at the end.
“This was during the first lockdown and if John had needed to go into hospital I might not have been able to visit him easily and that would have been awful.It was so reassuring to have the Sue Ryder Nurses visiting us every day. They made sure John was always as comfortable as possible. I really wanted to do something to say thank you for all that they did for us, so I started fundraising.”
A performance pianist, Anita first started organising her Winter Recitals series at St Mary’s Church in Wallingford in 2018, with the intention of raising funds for different charities.
“When we started receiving the support of Sue Ryder in 2019 I decided to hold my Winter Recitals in 2020 to raise funds for them. That year I raised £1,500.”
As well as supporting charity Anita says the recitals are a platform to showcase a variety of music from a variety of performers too. Anita comments, “I arranged four concerts for this year’s Winter Recitals and aimed to make each one different,” Anita shares. “One concert featured talented teenagers, giving them an opportunity to perform outside of their school environment. In the other recitals I collaborated with professional colleagues, and each programme had a different theme.
“One concert was dedicated to the works of Schubert and another involved exciting Brass music. While another focused on the music of female composers and through a connection a female composer wrote a piece especially for the concert. That was really special to perform a world premiere in Winter Recitals Wallingford!
“The recitals have grown more and more popular, which is wonderful. There was a full house at the last one, and people had to sit in the choir stalls!”
Alongside piano performances, Anita has been pounding the pavements to raise funds for Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire after starting to run during lockdown.
“I first started running in 2020. I was never a runner before but I worked towards taking on my first 10k and this raised £1,465 for Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire. I then took on the December Daily Dash in 2020 raising a further £847. Then in 2021 I took on the London Marathon which raised £3,552. It was such an amazing, but painful experience!”
“I have never considered myself a runner but John’s love has given me a lot of strength to do the next things in life. 2020 was hideous but at the same time it was the inspiration to make me do all these other things too.
“Running has been so good for my mental health and it has really helped me with my bereavement. Running has made me go outside and enjoy nature and it has become so much more than a way of raising money. It has been healthy for me physically and mentally too.”
Anita wants to share thanks with everyone who has supported her in her fundraising endeavours.
“There are so many people I want to thank for their support of my fundraising. Huge thanks to all the people who have sponsored me for all my challenges and supported the Winter Recitals too. I would like to say a special thank you to the volunteers at St Mary’s Church in Wallingford as well who support the Winter Recitals by volunteering their time. I would not be able to raise the funds without them.”
Anita hopes John would be proud of what she is doing to help support the charity which was there for him.
“I hope John would be proud of me. He always loved listening to me performing and he was so admiring of the Sue Ryder Nurses and the service they gave too.
“I am going to continue raising money for Sue Ryder as their care and support is such a valuable thing. You can’t put a price on it. I would hate to think other people would not be able to receive their specialist support as it made such a difference.”
Meghan Bentley, Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire said, “Anita – from all of us at Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire, huge thanks for all you are doing to raise funds for others needing our expert and compassionate palliative care. Your running and recitals are raising vital funds to make sure we can carry on caring for others – helping to fill people’s final days with love.”
For more information on Anita’s Winter Recitals visit www.anitapiano.com/wrw22
For more information on Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire visit sueryder.org/southox