Why I gave up presents for my 21st birthday

Katie Lewis. Picture: COURTESY OF EACH

Katie Lewis. Picture: COURTESY OF EACH - Credit: Archant

Most people receive watches, expensive champagne or even cars for their 21st birthday.

However veterinary nursing student Katie Lewis decided to give up dream gifts for her landmark birthday - so she could give money to charity instead.

Katie, who works at Ipswich Town Football Club on matchdays, was inspired to make the big donation by seeing the work that East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) in the region.

EACH cares for children with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, whilst offering support to their families.

Katie, who is from Ipswich, studies at Nottingham Trent University and is working at Southfields Veterinary Specialists in Laindon, Essex, admits that she is “quite a hard person to buy for”.

She added: “My mum is quite good at suprises so I might have got a trip away somewhere but I decided that there wasn’t anything I really needed or particularly wanted to get this year, so I thought I would ask for sponsorship donations.”

As a result she decided to do a sponsored triathlon to support EACH - raising about £850 so far, well above her original £500 target.

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“I got so much support from my friends and family as well as complete strangers as I was going round,” she said of the event at Alton Water, which consisted of a 750m swim, a 21km bike ride and a 4.5km run.

“I even got sponsored whilst I was running and swimming.”

Katie continued: “A man came up to me and said that his son had been cared for at the hospice. He gave me cash on the spot.”

Katie chose to support EACH because of the incredible work it does supporting terminally ill children but also because it is a local charity.

“EACH provide free care which costs £16,000 a day,” she said.

“They really rely on donations so I decided that they could do with my help to allow them to continue their incredible work.

“I think I noticed them more beacause they are local and I see more online about them compared to other charities.”

She plans to do a similar challenge to raise more money for EACH next year.”

To donate to Ms Lewis’ fundraising efforts, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katie-lewis28