This week, something special started – a fundraising challenge that is bringing together 150 bloggers across to UK to raise money for Sport Relief. As I write this, I’m watching The Great Sport Relief Bake Off, and it’s reminded me what a HUGE DEAL Sport Relief is. Once viewed as a younger sibling to Comic Relief, it has seen high profile fundaising efforts in recent years like David Walliams swimming the Channel, Eddie Izzard running 43 marathons in 51 days and David Walliams (again) swimming 140 miles along the River Thames.
And now (dramatic pause) it’s our turn.
The Team Honk Bloggers’ Relay is taking place right now, and over a period of 10 weeks, sees the Team Honk baton being transported (by foot/bike/scooter/boat/unicycle/insert mode of transport here) all the way from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Caithness. See the full route and details of bloggers involved over on the Team Honk site. Here, I chat to Mummy Barrow, one of the three bloggers behind Team Honk. This lady is a blogging legend. And she makes a good cup of tea (although, I have no proof of this, since she has never *cough* invited me over for a cuppa…) Anyway, here she is, Mummy Barrow!
Photo credit: Mummy Alarm
So tell me the background behind Team Honk. Whose idea was it to first get involved with Comic Relief, and how did it come to fruition?
Thanks for that welcome Alison, and for the chance to have a chat today! Team Honk came about in October 2012 when I spotted Emma Freud (Director at Comic Relief, wife of film director and Founder of Comic Relief Richard Curtis) tweet that 2013 was going to be an amazing year for the charity as they were to celebrate 25 years of Red Nose Day. Emma and I had followed each other on Twitter for a while and I had met her a couple of times at events so she knew I was not a crazy stalker when I replied and said, “Emma have you considered getting bloggers involved, and if so can I help?!”
Emma replied immediately and said to email her, which I duly did.
My idea then was solely on fundraising. I wanted to encourage bloggers to do some crazy things to raise not only money but awareness. Bloggers have a voice that people listen to and to raise the awareness of Comic Relief and their 25 year celebrations seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
Emma invited me to the Comic Relief offices in London and having come up with some mad ideas I went along, taking Annie from Mammasaurus with me as she knows all about the technical side of tapping into networks, creating blogs etc. Our fund raising ideas, sadly whilst we thought they were epic were all not as straightforward as we thought as you need licences for a raffle, or any street collections.
So we left the offices determined to find a workaround, whilst Comic Relief would talk further to their fund raising team and get back to us. Whilst that was happening we got the email that said, “We want to take three bloggers to Ghana, will you two come and can you suggest somebody else?” We were flabbergasted. There was much screaming. We put some suggestions to Comic Relief for the third blogger and were thrilled when they agreed with us that Penny from Aresidence would be perfect.
Where does the name Team Honk come from?
Honk is a great word on social media when characters are limited. Either “message received and understood” or just a plain “hello”. It also cheers up what would be a drab “yes”. Much more fun to type HONK in capitals. The three of us wanted to call ourselves something as we couldn’t give anything away on social media about the trip. So we needed something to tease people with because, well because we can’t keep completely quiet! So we talked about TeamHonk or SecretThing.
We were keen right from the outset that anybody joining in with the blogging or fund raising was part of a team so TeamHonk just seemed to stick.
Tell me about the Team Honk trip to Ghana – that must have been pretty heartbreaking but amazing at the same time?
Alison, Ghana was life changing. And not one bit of it was heart breaking, although I too thought it would be. If I had to sum it up in one word it would be “Inspiring”. That is hard to imagine when you are standing in a slum with no electricity and no running water. Yet despite that we saw people being empowered by projects funded by Comic Relief. Women making jewellery, running a bakery, making hair products, training hair dressers, making furniture. Having their lives changed by as little as £50.
Photo credit: @AResidence
What was the biggest thing you learned from that experience?
That even a small amount makes a difference. It isn’t about raising millions. It is about raising small amounts. Those small amounts make the biggest difference.
How did the Team Honk Bloggers’ Relay come about?
We wanted to include as many bloggers in fund raising as possible. But how do you do that when they are all over the country? Hold an event? If it costs a blogger £100 to come to the event when they have to pay for travel and a hotel, why not just donate the £100? Holding an auction meant only people with deep pockets could participate etc etc. We wanted bloggers to feel they were really part of it. That they could organise their own event but still be part of a bigger thing. And that we could come to them.
Land’s End to John O’Groats is legendary, isn’t it? It is iconic. So last year we set about seeing if we could organise it. Asking bloggers to sign up if they were interested. Where were they? How far could they travel? What could they do? We were blown away. 150 signed up and so we plotted the route to include them all. They have now encouraged others to join in. Families, friends, local sport teams, there are literally thousands of people involved in it now. It is breathtaking.
What kind of reaction did you expect from the blogging community? Were you worried you might not receive much support?
It was overwhelming. We never doubted the blogging community for a second. We doubted ourselves and whether we could pull this off but we never doubted the blogging community.
What kinds of things are some of the bloggers doing, as they carry the baton?
Oh you name it, they are doing it! We have swimming through the river Cam in Cambridge, we have the ferry in Bristol being used, roller skating over the Humber Bridge, fat sumo suits, walking in odd shoes, and as you know, there is even a reenactment of Monopoly going on in London called Honkopoly. It is truly all bonkers, but brilliant to see it all coming together.
How did you feel when the relay kicked off in Cornwall?
Very emotional. I set my alarm on Sunday morning to make sure I could be up and supporting on social media and to see it all happening was amazing. Emma Freud and Richard Curtis sponsored the Cornwall team (much of their last film About Time was filmed in Cornwall so it must have good memories for them!) and they called them the greatest bloggers in the country. That just blew me away. All the months of planning, of creating Facebook groups to get people talking, the Google Hangouts, it was all coming together and was finally looking like it might happen.
I am not sure I can really put into words how the day felt. We set each group the target of £500 and need to raise £286 a day over the 70 days but by the end of the first day we had just over £1000 donated. That is mind blowing. And just shows the level of support out there.
How do you think you’ll feel when it reaches John O’Groats?
I am going to be a basket case. I will be elated when the baton arrives there. Proud to have been involved in something that not only raised awareness and much needed funds but also brought the blogging community together all over the country.
What’s next for Team Honk?!
Well there is talk of Kilimanjaro. I kid you not. But immediately after it finishes I think I will have a little weep at how brilliant blogging truly is over a cup of tea and a biscuit.
So what exactly am I doing to support Team Honk Bloggers’ Relay? I’ll be in the London team – and we’re doing a Monopoly themed trip around the capital with the baton. Nicknamed Honkopoly, we’ll be visiting some of the streets, stations and landmarks from the board game, dressed in Monopoly themed outfits (I’ll be impressed if someone comes as a Scottie Dog) before passing the baton onto the Fleet team. We’ll be walking, running, cycling, hopping on London buses, maybe even a black cab if we are running out of time! This is our route, devised by London Team Honk organisers Vanessa from HPMcQ, Sarah from Grenglish and Sophie from Franglaise Mummy (Special shout out to Mr McQuitty for designing this fab map, artwork for the day and the HONKOPOLY logo – isn’t it cool?)
And here’s what YOU CAN DO! From the comfort of your own home, you can support the Team Honk Bloggers’ Relay and raise money to help people living incredibly tough lives, both at home in the UK and across the world. To donate in support of the London Honkopoly team head to the Sport Relief website. We have a goal of raising £500 and I think we can smash that. Alternatively, text HONK to 70005 and donate £5 to Sport Relief. GO ON!
Psst! If you’re interested in actively getting involved with Sport Relief, the first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.