I reported some great news last month about the charity fund for the run across Australia closing at £55,126.60. This gave an overall total to date of £212,478.40. That total represents kindness beyond belief and it's very difficult to express just how grateful I am to the thousands of kind folk who have made a donation in respect of my running events over the years.
There was further great news this week as the 2016 charity fund got off to a great start with a £500 donation to The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children's Foundation from those kind folk down at Smart Office Systems (SOS) Group Ltd* in Team Valley, Gateshead. Pictured below is SOS Group Director Andrew Skelton handing over the cheque.
The great news didn't stop there as SOS Group said that the main reason for getting me to come down to their premises was to talk about how they could best support me during my 2016 run. I brought them up to speed with my fundraising background, the whys and wherefores and by the time I'd left we had a high level plan to help make the 2016 run a fundraising success.
Unlike funds received from my other sponsors for tour costs**, any funds from SOS Group will be wholly used for charitable purposes. In the first instance, SOS Group will be paying for the production of the new Run Geordie Run 2016 technical t-shirt and hoodie available to pre order from Wednesday 22nd October. This means that all of the proceeds from the sales can go straight to the 2 charities. Absolutely all of it. 100%. For example, if a t-shirt costs £5 to produce, then SOS Group will pay that £5. When the t-shirt then sells for £12 then ALL of that £12 goes to the 2 charities. Therefore, the 2 charities will see a nice return on SOS Group's donation.
I get the feeling that that is just going to be the tip of the iceberg and just from the brief discussions we've had so far I feel that, given SOS Group's obvious company ethic regarding charity and community support, that the 2 charities are going to benefit immensely from this partnership.
It is for that reason that SOS Group will fit nicely into the 2016 sponsorship "family" and I see the same values in the other kind companies who have signed up to support me. They are all so keen to help and to see me do well in 2016.
Andrew Skelton of SOS Group said "I first met Mark a few months ago at the Tyne Metropolitan College Year awards. We were both presenting awards and Mark had shared his recent running experiences with the audience. I sat opened mouth and staggered by the distances Mark had ran and the money he had raised in support of the two great charities. The strength to do the various runs and emotional factors Mark had gone through was very inspiring.
At that point I made an immediate pledge of support. In recent weeks we’ve had a chance to talk in more depth about the 2016 great venture and we have so much in common especially handling the grief of loved ones and assisting local charities whenever possible.
I (SOS Group) did not have to think twice when the opportunity arose to assist Mark on the 2016 venture and become major key sponsor.
We have some great ideas for the long term and achieving the ambitious fundraising targets Mark has set. I have even set myself a target to run the full distance on one of the days during the 2016 run. And at 18 stone that isn't going to be easy!".
I'm very grateful to all of my sponsors and it's great to add SOS Group Ltd to the list of growing sponsors and supporters of the run in 2016.
*From the SOS Website - SOS Group are an independent supplier of photocopiers and multifunctional devices, with the ability to provide customers with a multitude of superior copy/print devices, we do have preferred suppliers that we recommend, call us anglethese photocopiers and multifunctional products are of the highest grade and offer the end user reliability and functionality.
**All of my running events, up to and including the run across the USA in 2011, were paid for out of my own pocket. I couldn't afford to fund another event, so the USA was always going to be my last charitable run. However, £105,233 was raised as a result of that run and I felt that I owed it to the 2 charities to try and have another go at raising £50,000 (my original USA target) in Australia in 2013. The run across Australia would simply not have been possible without the backing of commercial sponsorship which was used for flights, RV motorhome hire, fuel, insurance, nutrition products and kit. Through some incredible generosity, that run saw another £56,126.60 raised for charity.