The Family Holiday Association is appealing to the travel industry to help it raise £250,000 to give disadvantaged families a holiday, asking 500 individuals or businesses to each pledge £500.
The 500 for 500 campaign was launched last October to mark the charity’s 40th anniversary this year, and each £500 donation covers the cost of sending a family of four on a seven-night break at the British seaside. FHA events manager Michelle Barnes says the simple holidays “make a huge difference” to families, adding: “Just a few days away can spread happiness, improve their wellbeing and create cherished memories.”
The trade have rallied to the FHA’s call, making 176 pledges to date, equalling £88,000. Supporters are also able to make a direct donation.
Here, FHA supporters explain their fundraising efforts.
Abta’s head of financial protection John de Vial raised £10,695 through a sponsored 100km walk from London to Brighton in May.
He has raised money for the charity before to help families in poverty, explaining: “They have often not had a holiday, and these are children who have never seen the sea.”
De Vial was sponsored by industry friends and colleagues, and asked 10 travel organisations to donate £500 each. FHA corporate sponsor Tui UK & Ireland also agreed to match up to £5,000 of his total, which de Vial said was a “great incentive” to donors.
De Vial is a keen walker, but had a dedicated training programme that saw him train through the winter, and he jogged 10km daily as part of his commute.
It took him 25 hours to complete the walk, which included sections on pavements, crossing under the M25 by tunnel, and across parks, stiles and the North Downs. While he saw some “incredible” views, he also walked through six hours of darkness wearing a head torch, stopping only for a brief power nap and a bacon roll.
He says: “Knowing I was raising the funds helped me enormously to keep going. I raised £100 per km I walked.
I tried to think about that when I wanted to stop and pressed on through the ups and downs. It helped keep me focused when training and it helped me get across the line.
The feeling when you finish, despite the exhaustion, is amazing.”
Worldwide Kids Company
Cake sales, parties and a Christmas jumper day helped resort childcare specialist Worldwide Kids Company raise £717.
The events were held at the organisation’s head office in London, and communications officer Emma Lambert says the team is encouraged to generate ideas to raise funds.
She explains: “Everybody certainly experiences the feel-good factor behind donating to a good cause and it brightens up the working week. It also gives the team a fun target to work towards that means a lot at the same time.”
She says the FHA’s work has a natural fit with the business, explaining: “As a childcare and travel-based company we thought it would be appropriate to help raise money for families worthy of a well-deserved break and quality time.”
The team integrated fundraising into their end-of-season party last November, raffling Red Letter Days experiences and hotel nights.
While the party helped generate the bulk of their fundraising, a group of keen bakers also created culinary masterpieces, which colleagues made a donation to enjoy.
All staff donned festive woollies for a Christmas jumper day last December, donating a pound for the privilege. “This was the making of a very jolly and seasonal day in the office,” Lambert recalls.
The team are keen to continue with their fundraising efforts, and have just submitted their second £500 pledge, with plans to hold more parties and a baking auction.
This weekend Vintage Travel’s France and Italy contracting manager Lucy Ling will cycle from London to Paris with her boyfriend Ben, raising £1,000.
The duo will set off on Friday September 4 from Crystal Palace, and will finish on Sunday, 178 miles away at the Eiffel Tower.
The pair are enthusiastic cyclists and ride three times a week, but this will be their longest journey. Ling admits: “I’m a bit worried about any hills on the route, as we live and train in Cambridge, which is so flat!”
Ling was inspired to fundraise for the FHA after hearing about its work at a conference, and pledged to raise the cost of holidays for two families. She has nearly hit her target, having generated more than £1,000 already – although a share of this will go towards Ben’s charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
Ling started fundraising in June and set up a Virgin Money Giving webpage to collect donations.
She posts regular training updates on Facebook, and jokes: “Our friends are probably sick of the sight of us in Lycra!”
She included details on her work email signature and told numerous suppliers and other operators, which helped bring in donations.
To boost funds, Ling raised £110 through a cake sale in the Vintage Travel office, and is planning a pub quiz for friends and family after the race. With days to go Ling is excited, saying: “I can’t wait to get on my bike. I keep visualising getting to the Eiffel Tower and going up it, and that’s keeping me motivated!”
Elman Wall Group
Chartered accountants Elman Wall Group have raised £3,500 for the campaign through sailing and running challenges.
The FHA is the group’s chosen house charity, and the firm helped launch the 500 for 500 campaign at its 2014 Travel Directors’ Summit, encouraging delegates to pledge.
Elman Wall is matching any sum raised by employees up to £500, and several members of the team are taking part in a fun run in London
to raise money, documenting their progress and appealing for funds through the company’s blog.
The team also raced two yachts in the FHA Annual Regatta in the Solent in May, and Deborah Potts, director of the firm’s business growth, mergers and acquisitions arm Summit Advisory, recalls: “We terrified ourselves and some of our clients in the process!”
Potts is an FHA ambassador and former trustee and helped develop the idea for the campaign. She says: “Having a company charity and fundraising as a team creates brilliant memories and stories, making us all much closer. It makes coming to work much more meaningful.”