Members in need of help from the Guild’s Charitable Trust will benefit from record fund-raising at the annual Harvest Lunch, thanks to the generosity of those present – not least Herefordshire farmer Stephen Hay from Ross-on-Wye who bid £1000 to secure the two Centre Court tickets for the opening day of next year’s Wimbledon tennis championships.
Keen bidding for the chance to see Andy Murray open the championships and the professional skills of guest auctioneer Ed Bagnall from Cotswold estate agency Tayler & Fletcher (pictured scouring the hall for fresh bids), saw the sums rise and rise again as bidders dropped out and others took their place.
To encourage generous attempts to secure the tickets, kindly donated by Group Capt Grieve Carson, a trustee of the charitable fund, the chairman of trustees, Stephen Howe emphasised the help that the Trust can provide.
“Please don’t assume for one minute that this money goes only to retired members; it doesn’t. Yes, in the past 12 months we have provided funds for respite care and mobility chairs for the more senior; but a number of our awards are going to younger, working journalists who have suffered loss of income through ill heath and may have also found themselves in need of specialist equipment.”
Stephen also revealed that over the past year grants awarded by the Charitable Trust have been almost equal to its annual income from fund raising and the interest received on capital investments.
“Given the increased demand the Trust is currently experiencing and trustees are expecting in the future, it is vital that funding of the BGAJ Charitable Trust is strengthened for the long term benefit of its members,” he said. “We are trying to build our investment (capital) portfolio for the future and do not want to draw down on it to meet short-term need unless for a real emergency.”
That spurred lively bidding for the Wimbledon experience, which together with excellent sales of prize draw tickets both before and after the Harvest Lunch, took the total sum raised to a record £3061 for the capital fund.
“This is a marvellous result,” says Stephen. “But we would also welcome any other fund-raising initiatives from Members or Friends of the Guild to build our capital investments.”
Income from sales of prize draw tickets was up a little on last year, with the persuasiveness of Tony Collier, a trustee of the fund, in securing prizes and the generosity of those who donated them, making a great contribution. The lucky winners took home vouchers – or the real thing – for a great selection of activities, shopping and fine food and drink:
Chris Burgess, Guild member, ABC Comms – weekend for two at The Farmers Club, donated by chief executive Stephen Skinner.
Jane Craigie, Guild chairman, Jane Craigie Marketing – day for two at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, donated by New Holland Agriculture.
Johann Tasker, Guild member, Farmers Weekly – £100 John Lewis vouchers, donated by Monsanto.
Andrew Arbuckle, Guild member, freelance – Wimbledon behind the scenes tour for two, donated by Group Captain Grieve Carson, trustee, Guild Charitable Trust.
Rory Brown, guest – £80 theatre ticket vouchers, donated by John Deere.
Natalie Reed, Guild member, Whisper.pr – One year’s National Trust membership for two, donated by AGCO and £60 garden centre gift vouchers, donated by the NFU.
Karen Mercer, guest – £100 John Lewis vouchers, donated by Monsanto.
Janice Harland, Guild member, Harland Hall – Christmas turkey, donated by Claas UK.
Martin Looker, Guild member – voucher for A Perfect Night In with Steak & Wine, donated by P&K Gourmet direct from their farm.
Diana Spellman, guest, Partners In Purchasing – Bottle of good malt whisky, donated by Drew Sloan.
Doreen Forsyth, Guild member, PR consultant – Bottle of fine champagne, donated by Drew Sloan.
Emma Penny, Guild member, Farmers Guardian – 12 bottle case of wine, donated by Malcolm Bridges, publisher, British Dairying.
Members and Friends of the Guild with annual share subscriptions to the Charitable Trust’s 200 Club won cash in the second of this year’s random draws. Tessa Bevan, daughter of the late Derek Watson, won the £250 top prize, former Telegraph agricultural correspondent Godfrey Brown won £100 and the two £50 prizes went to Mary Cherry and Prof John Nix.