A busy mother-of-seven who has raised more than £10,000 during a five-year fundraising mission despite her own personal difficulties has landed a top national award for her charitable efforts.
Laura Jayne Singleton decided to step out of her comfort zone and give back to the community after years of suffering from mental health problems.
She shaved her head for cancer patients, ran two marathons while pregnant with twins and jumped into the ring for a boxing contest. The inspirational 37-year-old has now been crowned the winner of Ultra Event's "Charity Champion of the Year" and revealed she feels "proud" of her achievements.
The organisation recognised Laura after she took part in one of their Ultra White Collar Boxing events and raised an impressive £2,500 for Cancer Research UK. When approached about her win, full-time mother Laura, from Billington, said: "I put my heart into it, but I was not expecting this award. I feel quite humbled. I heard about other people's stories and I felt very lucky to be nominated alongside them."
Ultra White Collar Boxing participants raise cash for Cancer Research UK by taking part in eight weeks of free professional training before a bout with an opponent in front of hundreds of spectators. Those taking part are asked to sell tickets for the show and raise at least £50 for the charity. Laura - who battles mental health difficulties daily and was recently iagnosed with ADHD - wanted to set herself a new challenge and jump into the boxing ring. So, she threw herself into eight weeks of intense training at Blackburn Predators gym.
Laura also pledged to chop off her locks once she had raised £2,000 for charity which she did - just days before her bout.
She said: "My hair didn't seem a lot to lose when someone is going through cancer treatment. So, I was doing it for them really.”
Speaking about her boxing experience Laura added: "I struggle with structure, but the training became part of a routine for me. I met a brilliant group of people and everyone was in the same place - no one had done it before. I met some amazing people and we got really friendly. I grew up in care and I have got a lot of issues around that, so it was nice to be part of a family and support each other."
Loved ones packed out three tables on fight night, watching Laura win her bout after she made her way to the ring while Walk the Moon's Shut Up and Dance played in the background.
Laura said: "I was full of energy and the first round was very surreal. Once I was in there, I could not hear a thing. I had people shouting and cheering for me but I just couldn't hear anybody.vI have had a lot of people sending me messages and saying I have inspired them to do things. It makes me feel good because I really do struggle with a lot of things."
Laura has an impressive list of charity fundraising achievements.
They include raising £3,500 for charity TOFS - supporting children unable to swallow - after running the London Marathon in 2014. She also took part in the New York and Berlin Marathons while pregnant with now three-year-old twins Maxx and Theo, raising £4,500 for charity Kids Get Going in 2015. The fundraiser also gathered £600 for Facial Palsy UK after completing the Great North Run earlier this year.
She added: "I have to keep myself active and I have to do things to keep myself well. I can get very ill very quickly. This kept me focused. It's a battle I have to fight and it's hard. Ultra White Collar Boxing does wonders for your self-esteem. It's an amazing experience."
Jon Leonard, who runs Ultra Events, said: "We were delighted to see Laura Jayne land this award. She is a determined and inspirational character and we are so pleased that she chose to take part in one of our events and enjoyed it so much."
So far, Ultra Events has raised a staggering £20 million for Cancer Research UK. It celebrated some of the most inspiring participants earlier this year by creating five award categories: Training location of the year, Trainer of the year, Outstanding achievement, Inspiring participant of the year and Charity Champion of the year. The next Ultra White Collar Boxing event takes place at Blackburn's Mercure Hotel on April 5th, 2020, and training starts in the week commencing February 10th. Anyone thinking of signing up can visit ultrawhitecollarboxing.co.uk/locations/blackburn/