Serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Professor Graham Leslie CBE is celebrating a big birthday by asking friends and family to donate to a charity close to his heart.
Graham, who is 75 on Thursday, has asked people not to buy gifts but instead donate to Carers Trust, a charity he and wife Karen have supported for the last four years.
Graham, who founded medicines giant Galpharm in a shed in Huddersfield in 1982 before the company was sold for $88 million in 2008, has already raised thousands of pounds.
A former chairman of Huddersfield Town, Graham was the driving force and inspiration behind the John Smith’s Stadium, which he developed in partnership with Kirklees Council and its then leader Sir John Harman. Graham became founder chairman of Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd.
Graham has opened his contacts book – which reads like a who’s who across the worlds of business, music and sport – and asked his friends and associates to give generously to mark his birthday. PLEASE DONATE HERE.
“It’s not about me, it’s all about the Carers Trust,” said Graham. “This is a charity that is so important and it is rooted in our communities.
“There is a network of dedicated, unpaid, unseen and unappreciated carers out there looking after the needs of their loved ones and the Carers Trust helps them in very practical ways in their daily lives. It could be as simple as buying a kettle or an iron, the things most of us take for granted.
“During the pandemic the Carers Trust was even buying PPE and that really struck home to me, the depth of poverty we have out there.
“Unpaid carers – many of them children and young people – are saving the country millions of pounds through the cost of social services. They so very much deserve our support.”
One of Graham’s passions is music and he has teamed up with Hollywood composer Benson Taylor. Graham wrote a song, called ‘United Together’, which had echoes of the challenges of the pandemic.
The song, released last year, raised around £12,000 for the Carers Trust.
Graham, who is also Professor of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at the University of Huddersfield, this year turned his talents to the movie world.
He was executive producer of ‘Chick Fight’, a film starring Malin Akerman and Alec Baldwin, which was released on Amazon Prime in May. It was one of the few films completed before the pandemic shutdown. Read more about ‘Chick Fight’ HERE.
To donate to Graham’s birthday fundraiser please go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/grahamleslie-75thbirthday
Why support the Carers Trust?
My name is Bethany. I am 26 years old, work in the hospitality industry, have a few medical conditions, love to read and I am a carer for both my mum and brother.
My mum suffers from epilepsy, depression, non-alcoholic liver disease, diabetes and fibromyalgia. My brother suffers from a condition called foetal valproate syndrome which can cause a wide range of mental and physical complications.
I have been a carer for nearly all of my life. It is all I have really known so I would say it hasn’t affected me too negatively as it has made the person I am today. The main difference to my caring role now is that my mum’s health is becoming worse but the three of us battle through together.
Until the age of around 17 I was not very open about my caring role to school friends or teachers but after I started sharing my story I felt proud to share it, because helping my family isn’t something to be ashamed of.
When I was growing up I received support in the form of a local young carer service. They provided me with many activities and trips where I was able to make friends with people who understood my life and have someone to talk to who has been able to help me keep everything balanced.
In terms of support in school it wasn’t until my last 2-3 years that I had support from teachers and that was only due to them knowing about the service. The teachers helped me so much in explaining to other teachers why I may not be on time handing work in or being distracted in class.
I have used this example of a typical day for me if I was at work, thankfully my employers are very supportive with anything I may need.
5.00 – Time to wake up and get organised for work. Once I am dressed it’s time to hang some washing out to dry during the day while I am at work. I take the dogs for a walk around the field and while I have my breakfast I organise my brother’s breakfast, cup and medication ready for my mum to give to him before he leaves. I check he has his packed lunch or money ready for whichever activity he is doing.
6.00 – Before I leave for work I check my mum is awake with her breakfast and any pain medication she may need.
6.30 – I arrive at work and start organising all the paperwork I will need for the day ahead.
7.00 – I clock in and start the checklist for all items I will need and start preparing the meeting rooms for that day’s clients.
10.15 – I attend a brief but take my mobile with me so I can quickly text my mum and make sure she is ok and doesn’t need anything. If she does need something I will ring a family member when I have a few minutes spare and ask them to get it. Once brief is over its back to work and checking that all guests are happy.
11.15 – I start to prepare for lunchtime in the meeting area. When I go upstairs for any items I have missed I quickly text my brother to make sure he is ok. If he doesn’t reply I don’t worry as with his type of phone I know when he has read my message.
14.00 – After lunch it’s time to place the afternoon items out. It’s usually around now I will get a weekly text from the doctors reminding me of any appointments my family has or needs to make. I also check my phone again to make sure my mum is ok.
17.00 – Time to start clearing away and making sure everything is prepared ready for tomorrow.
18.00 – This is the average time that I finish work. When I leave, I ring to see what shopping needs to be picked up or medication needs ordering.
18.45 – I’m finally home and if my mum has had a good day, the evening meal will be made and some household jobs will be done. If she has had a bad day it’s a quick meal for everyone and a bit of cleaning done before I rest for the evening.
20.00 – If I’m back at work the next day it’s now bedtime for me.
As well as my own health needs, I would say being a carer does also impact my mental health. The hardest thing I have found being a carer and being ill is saying “I need help.”
It’s the one thing I say to people: “Don’t be scared to ask for help,” but when it comes to myself the words just don’t come out. Thankfully I am getting better. Instead of saying “I am fine” all the time, I am actually admitting sometimes I do struggle.
Advice that I would give to other carers (of any age) is to speak out if you are struggling in any way. Please. From personal experience I know how hard it is, but when you say those first few words it gets better.