As the travel industry prepares to release its first Full Monty-inspired calendar for charity, Abra Dunsby talks to agents who have taken on weird and wonderful challenges for good causes
Inspired by TV show The Real Full Monty: Ladies’ Night that aired earlier this year, Cherie Richards at Global Travel Group sent out a tweet suggesting the travel trade bare all for charity.
Then Sarah Archer at Beachcomber Tours decided to turn that idea into reality by creating a UK Travel Trade Full Monty calendar.
Richards says Global was keen to take part. “We emailed our members and posted on our closed Facebook group to ask if anyone wanted to get involved, and the response was great,” she explains.
Richards and four agent members – Jo Richards from Tivoli Travel, Amanda Parsonage from Grosvenor Travel, Jess Matthews from Myriad Travel and Janet Walker from Ruby Blue Travel – recently took part in a naked photoshoot, to be featured in the calendar for the month of March.
“Each month features a different company and a different charity. We’re fundraising for Diabetes UK, which helps people with an illness that has either affected us directly or someone we know,” explains Richards.
She says the ladies were initially nervous but had a fun-filled day: “It was shot in one of our members’ swimming pools, and we had a giggle – it ended up being really relaxed and comfortable.”
The calendar goes on sale in September and will cost £10. The Global team has set up a JustGiving page to raise money for Diabetes UK.
The calendar girls aren’t alone in their charity-focused exploits. There are a whole host of agents ready to take on a challenge for worthy causes and with inspiring stories to tell.
In August last year, Linda Palmer, travel clerk at Althams Travel in Todmorden, defied her vertigo to abseil more than 100 metres down Liverpool Cathedral in aid of Ronald McDonald House, a charity that’s dear to her.
“My grandson was born with a narrow heart valve and underwent a lifesaving operation at Alder Hey Children’s hospital. The Ronald McDonald House next door looks after parents and gave my daughter a room to sleep in for free, so she could see her baby every day.”
Palmer’s colleagues and clients sponsored her, and local paper the Halifax Courier covered the story, helping to raise more than £1,000.
She tells me the experience was “scary and exciting” in equal measure: “I was amazed at myself for doing it, especially as somebody in front of me decided to go back. I would highly recommend it, as it was one of the most daring things I’ve ever done – a real case of conquering your fears.”
Amanda Fodden, branch manager at Hays Travel Consett also took charity fundraising to new heights when she and two colleagues completed the Ultimate Skywalk on a wire bridge suspended more than 600 metres above a valley floor in the Lake District at Honister Pass, in aid of Willow Burn Hospice.
“Every year, Hays Travel allocates £500 to each of its branches to use towards making a difference in their local community,” explains Fodden.
The branch has supported local charity Willow Burn Hospice on several occasions via events including biannual coach trips, with ticket sales and onboard raffles raising funds.
“I returned from our annual managers’ conference in November 2017 inspired by the stories I’d heard about the funds raised for worthy cause,” says Fodden.
“We decided that this year we wanted to do something as a branch that would really challenge us – something totally out of character that would shock our friends and family.” She and two of the branch’s apprentices, Charlie Spencer and Adam Duncan, completed the walk in April this year.
“We raised £700 in branch through advertising and promoting posts on Facebook, which [Hays managing director] John Hays matched, so we raised £1,400 in total. People really couldn’t believe what we had signed up for,” she laughs.
Fodden describes the walk as “terrifying”, but for a great cause. “We were all exhausted but exhilarated at the end,” she says. “Adam and Charlie are now adrenaline junkies and are even looking at doing a sky-dive next.”
There’s no mountain high enough for Jordan Kelly: in August, he and five friends are set to climb the three highest peaks in the UK in 24 hours for charity.
Kelly, a travel consultant for Mann Link Travel, is embarking on the Three Peaks Challenge to climb Snowdonia, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. “We’re all quite sporty, so we wanted to push ourselves and do something different,” Kelly explains.
The team, who call themselves the Peaky Finders, are hoping to raise £3,000 for three local charities: the Rebecca House hospice, the Hospice IOM and the Queen’s Pier Restoration Trust.
All three charities are close to the team’s hearts, explains Kelly, who adds that they’ve set up a JustGiving page to help them raise money.
“We’ve been promoting the page on social media and we’re also going to pack people’s bags in a local supermarket to fundraise. We all play football on quite a competitive level, so we’re planning a charity six-a-side soccer tournament too,” he adds.
He tells me he’s excited about the challenge: “It’s going to be tough but rewarding. If all goes to plan, I’ll look forward to more charity challenges in the future.”