This week we have a new member of staff at the AKU Society. Her name is Lydia Powell, and she is our first ever Fundraising Officer. Over the next few months she will be building up our fundraising activities, enabling us to do even more exciting projects to help AKU patients around the world. This week’s blog is an interview with her, so read on to meet Lydia!

What were you doing before you joined the AKU Society?

I have just finished my Masters in International Development at the University of Cambridge, where I also studied Social Anthropology as an undergraduate. Both of these subjects emphasise the importance of community focused and participant led work, and during my time as a student I was able to volunteer with several charities which partner with NGOs in developing countries.

In 2013 I spent a month working with an education NGO in rural Guatemala, teaching English to primary school children. Once I finished my undergraduate degree I spent the summer as a research intern at Camfed, a Cambridge based charity which supports young girls through education in five African countries. More recently I enjoyed volunteering with the Impact and Evaluation Unit at TearFund, before coming to work at the AKU Society!

How did you find out about the AKU Society and what interested you in the fundraising role?

Having so enjoyed the previous volunteering I had done in the charity sector, I knew I wanted to work for an organisation which helps to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people. I first heard about the AKU Society from the Cambridge careers service, and especially liked its patient-led focus. I saw the fundraising role as a chance to use my research and organisation skills, as well as my creativity, to make a contribution to a fantastic cause. I particularly like organising events, but also want to build up my experience in researching new sources of funding and writing funding proposals.

Tell me about some fundraising you have done in the past.

Last year I was the Social Secretary for the graduate committee at my college, Murray Edwards. It was my role to organise lots of different social and academic events, many of which had a fundraising aspect. My highlight was the ’90s Bop’ which we arranged in January 2015, it was a huge success and we ended up reaching maximum capacity with over 300 people attending. As a result we raised a profit for the college, and had a brilliant evening dancing to the 90s classics!

What do you want to achieve most at the AKU Society?

I would love to expand the community fundraising work at the AKU society, so we can increase the services and events on offer to AKU patients. I’d also like to develop our relationships with patients outside of the UK and hold some fundraising events specifically to support them. I look forward to working with patients and their families and friends to come up with exciting new ideas for events and challenges. I’d particularly like to establish a few key annual events such as races, raffles or comedy nights in order to raise awareness and support amongst the wider public.

What are your hobbies outside work?

In my spare time you’ll find me meeting up with friends, walking my golden Labrador, Lily, visiting the sea at home in Sussex, or dancing! I’ve been doing ballet since I was 3 and enjoyed dancing with the Cambridge University Ballet Society whilst at University. I also enjoy travelling and last summer I had a great adventure inter-railing around Greece, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia with friends!

Favourite book/film/TV show and why?

I am a big Eddie Redmayne fan, and loved him in ‘The Theory of Everything’, especially since it is set in Cambridge. One of my favourite books is ‘The Great Gatsby’; I love the way Fitzgerald portrays the extravagance of 1920s America, and I also love Leonardo DiCaprio in the Baz Lurhmann film adaptation.