JOHN CAMERON: Oil's well that ends well...
Many charities are formed in the wake of a tragic or untimely loss of a loved one. One only has to watch the London Marathon or Great South Run to see how many people turn negative experiences into positive outcomes by focusing their energies into fundraising.
Last week I conducted the charity auction for Oil Aid, a charity formed by Mike Holland in the wake of losing three family members in the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
Once a year Mike and his two founding partners, Bob Finch and Marc Thompson, hold an annual football tournament at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, an event supported by fellow leading businessmen within the oil and gas industry.
Twenty-four teams, each paying a £25,000 entry fee, play a knockout tournament with all proceeds going to the charity who, this year, had chosen The Prince’s Trust, Greenhouse Sports and Sentabale as the beneficiaries.
All three charities support young and vulnerable children, Greenhouse Sports through providing sporting programmes to inner-city children and Sentabale, founded in 2006 by Prince Harry, helps educate and support children and adolescence living with Aids in some of Africa’s poorest regions.
Passionate about the charity and these affected children, Prince Harry also plays in the football tournament. Once the tournament had finished there was little time for a shower and banter before the gala dinner commenced with some light entertainment provided by comedian Jack Whitehall, a longstanding family friend of Mike Holland, who held a Q&A session with champion jockey AP McCoy.
Rider of more than 4,300 winners, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National, AP McCoy was given a pretty rough ride by Whitehall, though it was all in good part and the champion jockey came back with a few one-liners and some embarrassing personal facts provided by Jack Whitehall’s mum, next to whom McCoy had been seated during dinner.
There were just eight lots for me to auction, though it was most definitely a case of quality rather than quantity, which included an Audemars Piguet luxury wristwatch for £14,000 and a one-week hire of an exclusive ski chalet which raised £15,000.
Best price on the night was paid for a table of 10 to have dinner at Kensington Palace followed by an exclusive concert in the palace gardens by multi-award-winning London group Coldplay.
Donated by Sentabale, I had been quietly informed by the charity that if we raised over £15,000 we could sell a second table to the under-bidder.
In the event the two tables realised £20,000 each.
With match entry fees, table sales and the auction prizes we raised nearly £750,000 on the day, a phenomenal amount which will help some of the poorest and most vulnerable children in both this country and Africa.
When it comes to turning tragedy into triumph, Michael Hollands is most definitely an inspirational man, though he remains humble and philosophical about life, loss and achievements.