Christine Lagun has been a Foresters member for over 30 years, and her passion for helping others began during her career as a teacher. “I initially started fundraising when I was a schoolteacher, and this sort of all snowballed from that.” Says Christine as she spoke about how her interest in volunteering and giving back started.
Foresters grants have helped Christine with her efforts year after year, allowing her to reach out to more charities and help more people in her community, and these actions did not go unnoticed. In 2023, Christine received royal recognition from King Charles III and Queen Camilla. This was an experience unlike any other and one that Christine will always treasure.
A history of helping a charity close to her heart
Christine has done her fair share of volunteer work, from helping food banks to going on walks for various causes and organisations; Christine is always ready to help. “You name it, and if I can do it, I’ll help out.” Says Christine when we asked her about her volunteering experiences.
But there is one charity that is particularly close to Christine’s heart Search Newcastle. The charity works with the elderly and vulnerable in Newcastle, where Christine lives. It’s also the organisation that nominated her for her royal recognition.
“When I started with Search, I was serving tea at charity events, and then I eventually started delivering medical supplies and hot meals.” Once Christine had access to her Foresters grants, it opened up more possibilities for her to help. “I was able to come along and say, I’ve got all this money, so what can I do for you? And it’s just a lovely feeling to say that.”
Giving back and getting nominated
While helping Search Newcastle by creating personal care kits for people who are rushed to the hospital, Christine was approached about being nominated for her work. “They asked if I would mind being nominated, and I said no, not at all. And then I forgot about it until one day I got a call saying I was chosen to receive the award.”
Christine said that out of 5,000 applicants, she was one of 500 chosen to be a Coronation Champion and got to go to the Coronation Concert. She also received a signed letter from the King and Queen and a pin that signified Christine as a Coronation Champion.
A once-in-a-lifetime experience
When the concert began, Christine and her daughter sat next to the royal box, where they could see members of the royal family enjoying the show. The event was a sea of excitement and filled with overwhelming support and love for the royal family. “There were just loads of red, white and blue flags everywhere and people were so lovely and enjoying it all.”
A huge highlight for Christine was interacting with the other awardees and hearing their inspiring stories about how they helped their communities. “We were asking each other, oh, what did you do? And the people were just wonderful, you know?”
Christine also received a letter acknowledging her hard work from the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Lucy Winskell, OBE. “The letter from the Lord Lieutenant congratulated me and recognized what I did. So, she obviously read my nomination.”
When we asked how this event had impacted her, Christine noted, “It was just a lovely thing that happened to me, and it would have never happened if I hadn’t been with Foresters and helping Search Newcastle.”
Being a member and inspiring others
For Christine, a big part of being a Foresters member is joining an international family of people who want to do more good for their communities. “I’ve got my family into Foresters as well, and that’s what this organisation is all about, isn’t it?” But the best part of being a member for Christine is giving back, “I love being able to get the grants and going out and helping people. I think that’s fantastic.”
Over the years, Christine has encouraged other members to join her in volunteering. “Every time I have a care package event, I get the same two sisters that come along with me, and they are absolutely brilliant.”
She even convinced them to try out a Foresters Care grant to give back. One of the sisters told Christine how good she felt while using her grant funds to help out a charity. “I remember telling her, think how good you’ll feel with a £2,000 grant.” We’re happy to share that these sisters have applied for more grants and even got their families involved in giving back.
You have the tools to make a difference
As a member, you have two grants available to you that you can use them to help a charity or cause that means something to you. The Community Volunteer grant gives you up to £2,000 towards important needs in your community, like organising a clothing drive for a shelter and replenishing local libraries. If you’d like to make a quicker but just as powerful impact, Foresters Care offers two yearly grants of £200. It’s a great way to see how a little help can go a long way.
At Foresters, we try to make it a little easier to do the good you want to do. While we can’t say you’ll get the same honor as Christine for giving back, we can guarantee it’s always a rewarding experience.