Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The final countdown

Less than one month to go before the big off. Plans are taking shape: I've been in touch with the orphanages, agreed times to meet people in foreign lands and drawn up a lot of lists - my heart is definitely beating faster!

A month has passed since the '£100k in a day' fundraiser; it’s gone in a flash! After the exhaustion and exhilaration of the event had subsided – I was still stunned at the how incredible the day was and how equally lucky I was to have so many good friends; just look at them all! These faces and everyone else who contributed - most likely you too - thank you.

My intended agenda would have had me setting off prematurely; so I decided to give myself another few weeks. Most who know me know I’m not in a rush to hurry things. August 22nd it will be, as the dates to meet up with Vivi in Italy, Sam and Eve in Croatia, and Rob in Jordan – are now locked in; very exciting!

Above all else the extra time has allowed me to give the arrangements for content and delivery of the Educaid boxes, it’s the most important thing to me to get right.

Nevertheless the next four weeks will be challenging - having never done anything like this before, things I anticipate will take a few hours can end up taking days. A lesson in preparation for me. I will get there.

The big task right now is to source and procure all the elements for the boxes... as well as the equipment I need too! I say procure because ideally I don’t want to buy. I’m hoping you and others will take a look at the equipment the orphanages need and help us to procure it as cheaply as possible, or free.

Please give me a hand -you can help us make the most of the funds we’re raised:

  • Look at this list of things we need to improve the kids lives
  • Send this email to a few friends or companies that may be able to help
  • Enjoy the feel good factor, you've just really helped out

Please try, send just a couple of mails. 10 minutes & you’ll feel good inside about it, I guarantee it.

Out of left-field, something about this song I have to share with you: Pedir o Axe - Mestre Acordeon – a capoeria song I’m deeply enjoying right now.

So it’s four weeks today, better get a move on… good luck with the emails ;)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

£100k in a day - the best failure ever!

The build up had been intense; the busiest week of my life - frantically changing venues, co-ordinating support, sorting auction lots, lodging world record attempts, contacting the media… and finding a Union Jack jockstrap! The result was nothing short of spectacular! Friday 26th June - ‘£100k in day’, it had boldly been called. To most this seemed a pipedream, how the hell are you going to do that? I had my plan. YouTube – how to make £100,000 in one day Without a moment to pause the clock ticked past midnight and the email campaign launched. Hundreds of primed friends and contacts, received the ‘Give 5 – Tell 5’ message; simple. Facebook and Twitter followed suit. Job one done, while the city slept. Disaster! Ken’s laptop bombed! Vital web updates – nil! I’d wanted at least five hours sleep it ended up being more like 2. Along ‘Mini Mike’ from Goodwill Gadabout we sorted it. Fingers of fury flying over the keyboard! ALARM! Two hours of sleep but the adrenaline kicked in; first stop Wimbledon Tennis. Alastair Grant a journalist met Mike, Eve and I for a few photos to accompany his story. I sheepishly stripped down to my GB Jock for the first time. Within 90 seconds someone I knew walked past! Cue mild embarrassment and attempts to validate this behaviour with furious gestures to towards the Better Life Cycle banner behind my bike. We hurtled along the queue, receiving cheers, donations and bemused glances. A good start! Next stop Marble Arch, to set a new World Record! 20+ awesome and generous friends volunteered to help on the day. They’d hauled ass up to town for a 9am start … on their day off. It was a massive relief to see them all there. Legends! The Club Blue Room lent us our skates for free and we tentatively made our way across to the famous arch. Most hadn’t skated in more than 10 years… I was glad to be on the bike. The very spurious World Record I’d applied for was ‘the most people towed by a bike’ – at the high point I think we reached 20. It didn’t matter, we all laughed so hard trying, the tenuous nature of the record paled into insignificance. We got what we wanted some cracking photos for the papers and everyone in a good mood. The next few hours flew by in a flurry; a great radio interview with George Lamb (01:13:40); running in and out of shops getting free auction lots; decamping to our floor in Sound; getting a random caricature sketched out; more jockstrap exposure and the whole team really coming up trumps. By this point we were well past £10,000 and looking good for more. The live streaming had turned out to be a bit of a technical shocker, so to liven things up we planned my long overdue haircut… and some other less well advised activities followed suit. As a bizarre means of gratitude I’d allowed the volunteers to vote in secret on my hair cut. So I sat down nervously in the hairdresser, still adorning only a thong, with no idea what would happen to my beloved bouf! As over 70 people watched this bizarre spectacle online, my hair fell and gradually Mohican appeared… albeit a relatively tame one. I later found out an extreme mullet, a Friar Tuck and a Shaolin had been proposed; I got out very lightly! Trying to push the internet viewings to a viral scale, I accepted the suggestion to get the middle section of a ‘back, crack and sack’ done. It hurt! Not really bad but bad enough to know if I’d had the sack waxed it would have been pure agony. At this point ladies, I’ll take a moment to deeply empathise with you and what you go through to keep things looking ‘Hollywood’ good. Aye carumba! At this point people were bringing in goodies from heaps of shops, getting another radio shout out on Capital FM, busking for cash – the whole nine yards! I was getting strangely comfortable being virtually naked in Central London, greeting friends and strangers alike. Taking people’s email in exchange for the increasingly in demand tourist photo - with said scantily clad cyclist - proved a masterstroke; we got literally hundreds of names and good vibes. With no more than 30 mins to spare, I frantically got the descriptions needed for the charity auction. I planned to make my first attempt at auctioneering a successful one. Jimi and the band were set up, people were in good spirits and the party was filling up. Great to see so many familiar faces, some for the first time in years. The auction went down a storm. Raising over £4500, taking our total to the day to well over £20,000. Not the catchily audacious £100k but nevertheless a resounding success. With the final lot sold, my Mum grabbed the mic – echoing the pride I felt growing in myself. ‘What a man’ she bellowed, everyone cheered, my eyes almost teared! It was a great moment! She’s my rock – thanks Mum. Jimi and his band kept the great vibes going, with virtually everyone rocking it out on the dance floor. The mood was special, drinks flowed, not a mood out of place – with DJ Mylz playing a phenomenal 4 hour set of funkin tunes the night proved to be a stonking success. Slightly overcome with it all I tweeted: “Taking a breath outside the party. Beautifully bewildered by the events of the day & generosity of friends :)” By 4am, Mike, Eve, and I - with whom I’d started the day 20 hours earlier – picked up our bikes and rode home, marvelling at the events of the day. Not without hiccup (lest I start on JustGiving's failure to handle all the donations) but the spirit and contribution of all involved, overcame it all... and in triumphant fashion. The difference it will make will last for years for hundreds of kids, something we can all be proud of. One of the best days of my life!