EVENTS – Doing things differently

‘We raised £867 with a virtual balloon race’

‘A local hospice had been advertising a virtual balloon race, and the idea seemed appealing to us. I decided to look into how it worked, and discovered we could sign up to join the ‘School’s Out’ race with without

any risk or initial outlay. However, we needn’t have worried about lack of interest! In just a few weeks, we sold 367 balloons – at £3 each – to people within the school and local community, as well as to friends and family. We let parents know about the race via a fl yer sent out from the school, then spread the word wider using social media, including our own Facebook group and the local village Facebook page. We also tried to encourage a bit of

reached its goal. To increase involvement, invite people to take part in whichever way they wish, be it run, walk, cycle or skip.

Readathon: Readers are sponsored per page (or book) over a week, fortnight or month. Make it more exciting by creating a goal that’s unique to your school. Could you collectively read as many books as are in the school library or read books that together equal the height of the school? Read For My School ( can help pupils keep track of how they’re getting on. Other sponsored events that can be completed individually at home as part of a group challenge include spellathons, and maths, dance or football challenges.

Run a relay: Run this class by class to keep it manageable. Parents of runners will need to let you know their address, or an alternative start point if they’re not running from home. Each child will run to their closest classmate’s house, where they will then ‘pass the baton’ by waving. Children who live in another town can come and do a lap of a local park. Use a planner such as MapMyRun or Google Maps to work out the route, and a WhatsApp group on the day to let parents

healthy competition within families and workplaces to generate more sales. We found that sending regular

reminders to our supporters – via text from the school and on social media – helped draw in more participants, as did offering our own local prizes as well as the national ones. Before lockdown, we had already

started preparations for our summer fair, so were able to use already- donated bottles to make up a drinks hamper. We also used items from our ‘gift amnesty’ collection box – something we use to collect donations all year round – as other prizes. Our supporters enjoyed watching

the race launch online, and we posted regular updates on which balloons were travelling the furthest. One of our supporters’ balloons came second overall, so they won one of the national prizes from Ecoracing! It was a win for them and a win for us, as we raised £867.’ Michelle Bebbington, chair, Friends of Hartford Manor, Hartford, Cheshire (414 pupils)

know when each runner is on their way. See p47 for our step-by-step guide to a socially distanced relay.

Virtual events Get everyone having fun at the same time from the comfort of their own homes. When considering what you could run, take existing events and break them down. How can you capture the different elements online? How will you make a profi t?

Afternoon tea: Parents order their food online in advance, and it’s delivered fresh to their home on the day of the event. It can then be enjoyed together via a private Zoom link. If there’s a baker in your community, get them involved. Add a bit of a tipple with a G & Tea.

Entertainment shows: All manner of entertainers have taken their business online, including clowns, magicians and scientists. Depending on pupil numbers, you can book one

bigger show or multiple shorter ones to suit different age groups.

Balloon race: Eco-racing ( runs virtual balloon races using real weather data and geographical positions. Supporters each buy a balloon, which they can then decorate and alter prior to launch, before following it through its realistic fl ight path (see testimonial above).

Workshops: Draw on the talents of your local community to get everyone learning a new skill, or even taking up a new hobby. One-off workshops could include everything from baking and pottery to fl ower- arranging and pumpkin carving. If you have enough interest, ask supporters to sign up for a series of classes, such as salsa dancing or music lessons. If attendees need certain materials to take part, provide them with a shopping list, or include materials in the ticket price and deliver to their home. AUTUMN 2020 43


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