Do you have to ride 40Km, swim the channel or sit in a bath of beans to be considered a charity fundraising star? Make no mistake all of these, and the hundreds of other fabulous activities people undertake daily to raise badly needed funds for charities big and small are truly to be celebrated. But last night as I looked round a packed banqueting suite at Ewood Park I saw nearly 300 people enjoying themselves drinking champagne, scoffing the wonderful JBT chocolates and it struck me that I was witnessing the bedrock of charitable activity. So how does attending a great night out with champagne and chocolate make someone a charity hero? Purchasing a ticket sends a clear signal, times are hard, particularly in our area of high deprivation and not everyone there last night has a full bank balance or even a secure income – there are young people who save a small amount weekly to ensure they get a ticket, they sit beside people with enough in the bank to bid for the enticing auction prizes – a difference in the size of the wallet maybe but not in the commitment. That I think is the key to a successful charity event – it is not necessarily the amount of money in the room but the collective desire to make a contribution no matter how big or small to positive action – in this case to help change the lives of the vulnerable.
It was a wonderful evening, the opportunity to break out the bling, eat fabulous food, and indulge in some dodgy dancing. There were sequins, killer heels, blinding white shirts and a positive rainbow of bow ties, I saw sprightly seventy year olds bopping around the dance floor despite previously protesting they were going to sit discreetly on the sidelines. In the miasma of excitement and joy of the party, however, the reason that brought such a diverse group together was never far from the surface. The excitement of the auctions and raffle drawing was tangible and when asked to text and pledge a £1 the room lit up like a Barry Manilow concert as everyone used their phones and and how amazing is it that people know their bank details by heart to make an instant commitment to a weekly?
There was a collective impulse to contribute, something that feeds off the gathering of likeminded people with a common purpose, the supporters may have come to drink champagne and eat chocolate but they could choose to spend their hard-earned money in many other ways. By choosing to spend it this way they are showing just as much commitment to the cause as we will when the Daft and Determined Cycling Team tackle the Cycletta on the roads of Cheshire in October. And I am willing to bet our supporters will be drinking champagne, eating chocolate and punching the air on the dance floor again this time next year – though whether I will be cycling another 40Km is debatable.