TENACIOUS fundraiser Shirley Sherman has not had a birthday present for 12 years – but she’s not complaining.

Instead, the charity volunteer “donates” her birthday to charity and celebrates her special day by collecting money for Bournemouth Leukaemia Fund.

It all started in 2001, when Shirley turned 67. She organised a birthday lunch for 23 people in her Manor Road flat and asked people to donate money to Tenovus instead of buying her a card or present.

It proved a huge success and became an annual event, with Shirley organising birthday bring and buy sales, bridge parties and teas to raise thousands of pounds all in aid of charity.

When the Tenovus appeal was disbanded two years ago, she switched her support to the Bournemouth Leukaemia Fund and is currently planning a bridge tea to celebrate her 79th birthday.

“I look forward to each birthday more and more these days,” she said. “What do I need? There are few presents or gifts that would mean as much as raising money for such a good cause. I would encourage other people to do the same.”

Shirley, who has two daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, said her fundraising efforts were a tribute to the late Professor Terry Hamblin, the world-renowned doctor and cancer researcher who founded Tenovus and the Bournemouth Leukaemia Fund.

She has also raised substantial funds for Hannah Levy House and organised two sell-out fundraising events at Bournemouth’s ill-fated Imax cinema, raising more than £20,000.

In 2007, she received the equality and diversity award at Bournemouth’s citizen of the year awards.

So what’s the secret of her fundraising success? “I can be persuasive when I want to be,” she said. “And I think being able to mix with people at all levels helps, whether they are a little old lady like me or the managing director of a big company.

“I’ve also got a nice way with words and I write a good letter!”

  • To attend Shirley’s birthday bridge tea, call 01202 558099.

It will take place at the Queens Hotel on Wednesday, February 27 between 2pm and 5pm.

There is a donation of £10 per person and all proceeds will benefit Bournemouth Leukaemia Fund.