The char­ity cham­pion takes on on a new cause

On Oc­to­ber 14, Suf­folk mag­a­zine will sup­port veteran fundraiser Gina Long at a char­ity ball to help some of the county’s fam­i­lies af­fected by dis­abil­ity and can­cer. Dave Good­er­ham talked to Gina about her new char­ity, GeeWizz, and her life-long pas­sion fo

EADT Suffolk - - Contents -

GINA Long’s pro­fes­sional life is one of con­trasts. With an ad­dress book that is the envy of Suf­folk and be­yond, and a dream to help the most needy fam­i­lies in her home county, Gina has suc­cess­fully in­ter­wo­ven the two in a 40-year ca­reer as a char­ity cam­paigner, which last year saw her achieve­ments recog­nised with an MBE. She has al­ways felt blessed to have the con­tin­ued sup­port of fam­ily, friends, busi­ness lead­ers, dig­ni­taries and more, but there’s a rea­son every­thing Gina touches turns golden for the na­tional and lo­cal char­i­ties she sup­ports. Ask any­one who knows her and the words ‘pas­sion­ate’, ‘en­thu­si­as­tic’, ‘ded­i­cated’ and ‘driven’ come tum­bling out. Now she has chan­nelled that pas­sion to help oth­ers through her own char­i­ta­ble trust, GeeWizz, in a bid to make more of a di­rect im­pact on the lives of dis­abled peo­ple and fam­i­lies af­fected by can­cer. Ex­plain­ing the ori­gins of the char­ity, Gina says the guid­ing prin­ci­ple is trans­parency and trust. “I want peo­ple to be­lieve in what I am try­ing to achieve and to ac­tu­ally see where the money raised goes – so far it’s a recipe that is show­ing great suc­cess, thanks to our gen­er­ous sup­port­ers.” The char­ity might be less than a year old, but like her past suc­cesses, it is head­ing to­wards a hugely suc­cess­ful first birth­day. Never happy hav­ing just one big project to or­gan­ise, with weeks to go be­fore the char­ity ball in The Hangar at Mil­soms Kes­grave on Oc­to­ber 14, Gina was in the mid­dle of plan­ning her next global Ul­ti­mate Char­ity Auc­tion – www.ul­ti­mat­e­char­ityauc­tion.com – a two-week on­line fundraiser sup­port­ing four na­tional and lo­cal char­i­ties, which gives peo­ple the chance to bid on a vast ar­ray of money-can’t-buy prizes. This year’s auc­tion – Saturday Oc­to­ber 22 to Sun­day Novem­ber 6 – is ex­pected to raise £1 mil­lion for the first time since this suc­cess­ful fundrais­ing for­mat was first started by Gina in 2012. The ball, or­gan­ised in part­ner­ship with Suf­folk Mag­a­zine and Paul Mil­som, owner of Mil­soms, sold out four months be­fore the big event, and GeeWizz has al­ready gained valu­able sup­port from Wil­liam van Cut­sem, who

“I have al­ways be­lieved very strongly in the pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence char­ity can make on in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. That is what drives me on.”

along with leg­endary former Ip­swich Town and Eng­land de­fender Terry Butcher are the char­ity’s am­bas­sadors.

The event has at­tracted other high-pro­file names, with sup­port from former Eng­land crick­eter and broad­caster Graeme Swann, Suf­folk op­er­atic star Laura Wright, who will be per­form­ing, and pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter Chris Hollins, act­ing as MC for the evening. He will be joined by Graeme Swann later in the evening.

“We couldn’t have asked for more sup­port for GeeWizz’s first big fundrais­ing event,” said Gina. “Every­one is work­ing so hard to en­sure it is a great suc­cess, and to raise as much money as pos­si­ble to sup­port our work help­ing dis­abled peo­ple and fam­i­lies af­fected by can­cer.”

A CA­REER HELP­ING OTH­ERS

Gina’s ca­reer reads like a who’s who of char­i­ties. She was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the Suf­folk Break­through Breast Can­cer group, which an­nounced last year that it had raised £1 mil­lion to help fund re­search into the dis­ease, while the Ul­ti­mate Char­ity Auc­tion, now in its fifth year, has sup­ported the likes of the Sir Bobby Rob­son Foun­da­tion, Breast Care Now, East Anglia’s Chil­dren’s Hos­pice and Ip­swich Hos­pi­tal. This year, the auc­tion will sup­port com­mu­nity foot­ball projects run by In The Game, the League Man­agers As­so­ci­a­tion char­ity, Sar­coma UK, GeeWizz and the My WiSH Char­ity, sup­port­ing Gina’s lo­cal hos­pi­tal, the West Suf­folk.

Gina, and her hus­band, An­drew, cre­ated the Clas­sic Sports Cars by the Lake, held an­nu­ally at their farm to raise money for St Ni­cholas Hos­pice Care. She was also part of the Suf­folk fundrais­ing com­mit­tee of the Prince’s Trust, help­ing to raise more than £400,000, and was chair­man of EACH’s spe­cial events com­mit­tee, cov­er­ing Suf­folk, Nor­folk, Cam­bridgeshire and North Es­sex. She is pa­tron of the Bury St Ed­munds Wom­ens Aid Cen­tre, and the Ip­swich and Suf­folk Busi­ness Club, as well as the first am­bas­sador of West Suf­folk Hos­pi­tal and its My WiSH Char­ity.

Gina started fundrais­ing at the age of 13, or­gan­is­ing a 24-hour swimathon in Ip­swich and rais­ing £1,300 for chil­dren with spe­cial needs.

“I have al­ways be­lieved very strongly in the pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence char­ity can make on in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. That is what drives me on.” She has two chil­dren, Sa­muel and Alexan­dra, and five stepchil­dren, James, Charles, Ge­orgina, Thomas and Olivia.

“Over the many years do­ing what I love, I have fi­nally worked out the right work/life bal­ance. My fam­ily life will al­ways come first. I feel very blessed to have been given such won­der­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties, to work with some amaz­ing peo­ple and to have such a sup­port­ive fam­ily around me.

“I live by the Ghandi quote, Ser­vice to oth­ers is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” She es­tab­lished GeeWizz be­cause she wanted to know ex­actly where ev­ery penny of the money she raised was go­ing.

“It is not just about the money. I work proac­tively with fam­i­lies who may have a sick child and don’t know where to turn to. Their lives could be dra­mat­i­cally im­proved by hav­ing an up­graded or elec­tric wheel­chair, rather than a man­ual one – some­thing that may not get funded else­where.

“The great­est gift I have been given over the last 10 months with GeeWizz is to see the hap­pi­ness that has come from be­ing able to help in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies.”

DANE JACK­SON

Dane Jack­son says GeeWizz has made a “mas­sive” dif­fer­ence to his qual­ity of life. An MS sufferer, Dane was liv­ing in a flat with no floor­ing, strug­gling to af­ford sim­ple things that eased his con­di­tion. There was a lot of dust and he was wor­ried about fall­ing over.

But that all changed af­ter GeeWizz helped to im­prove his stan­dard of liv­ing, in and out of home, by work­ing closely with other or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“When GeeWizz ar­ranged for me to have some floor­ing put down, it was ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. It has made such a dif­fer­ence to my home life.” GeeWizz also worked with Nicky May­hew and Ip­swich Bor­ough Coun­cil to of­fer a swim­ming pass at Crown Pools, and with Sally Webb and the team at Ip­swich Town Foot­ball Club, who sup­plied match­day tickets.

“GeeWizz has re­ally im­proved my qual­ity of life and given me some­thing to look for­ward to.”

“GeeWizz has re­ally im­proved my qual­ity of life and given me some­thing to look for­ward to”

THE CELEBRITY SUP­PORT­ERS

When Gina Long de­cided she wanted to sprin­kle some celebrity star­dust on her GeeWizz char­ity’s first big fundrais­ing evening, she knew just who to ask.

Three phone calls later and she had se­cured some big names – one of Eng­land’s all-time great­est bowlers, one of the Royal Fam­ily’s favourite singers, and a BBC pre­sen­ter and former win­ner of Strictly Come Danc­ing – who all agreed to sup­port and at­tend the GeeWizz char­ity ball on Saturday Oc­to­ber 14 at The Hangar at Mil­soms Kes­grave Hall.

BBC pre­sen­ter Chris Hollins will be MC for the evening, while songstress Laura Wright will per­form along­side Soul Beat, one of the coun­try’s most en­gag­ing eight-piece show bands.

Chris said: “I’ve known Gina for a while, and her in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm and de­sire to do good means I am hon­oured to be the host of the first GeeWizz char­ity ball.”

Crick­eter Graeme Swann said: “I’m look­ing for­ward to at­tend­ing the char­ity ball and sup­port­ing Gina and GeeWizz to raise as much money as pos­si­ble for some very worth­while causes.”

Gina said: “To have Chris, Laura and Graeme, on board is a ter­rific coup for GeeWizz. They will add a touch of glam­our to what is al­ready go­ing to be a fab­u­lous evening. I can­not thank them enough. To have their gen­er­ous time and sup­port adds to the mag­nif­i­cence of the oc­ca­sion.”

Through­out her 40 years as a vol­un­tary fundraiser, Gina has un­der­stood the im­por­tance

of mak­ing char­ity events as high pro­file as pos­si­ble, to en­sure worth­while causes get the most amount of funds and aware­ness.

Her four global on­line auc­tions have raised more than £875,000 and she be­lieves a big part of that suc­cess has been the abil­ity to tap into the great and good from the worlds of sport, celebrity and life­style, help­ing to raise funds for a num­ber of char­i­ties, one of which was the Sir Bobby Rob­son Foun­da­tion, for which she has raised over £350,000.

Her close links with Ip­swich Town will also see the club rep­re­sented on the evening by some of its most fa­mous names. Former player and man­ager Ge­orge Bur­ley will be team­ing up with ex-team mates Alan Brazil and Terry Butcher, who has also agreed to be the first am­bas­sador of GeeWizz.

Terry said: “I have known and worked closely with Gina Long for many years and I didn’t have to think twice about sup­port­ing this won­der­ful and worth­while char­ity sup­port­ing young­sters and fam­i­lies in Suf­folk.”

THE DONORS AND SPON­SORS PAUL MIL­SOM, MIL­SOM HO­TELS

A long-time sup­porter of Gina’s char­ity work, Paul is pro­vid­ing the stun­ning venue for the GeeWizz char­ity ball, The Hangar at Mil­soms Kes­grave Hall. He is also pro­vid­ing a top auc­tion prize of a mag­nif­i­cent din­ner and wines for 20 guests in Mr G’s pri­vate din­ing room at Mil­soms in Ded­ham.

“To have Chris, Laura and Graeme, on board is a ter­rific coup for GeeWizz. They will add a touch of glam­our to what is al­ready go­ing to be a fab­u­lous evening. I can­not thank them enough. To have their gen­er­ous time and sup­port adds to the mag­nif­i­cence of the oc­ca­sion.”

Guy Ni­chols, Tip­pers R Us is spon­sor­ing the en­ter­tain­ment for the evening, while a ‘flow­ing’ cham­pagne re­cep­tion has been do­nated by Ad­nams, and all beer and the fine wines for the evening will be gen­er­ously pro­vided by Greene King.

The ball will also be sup­ported by lead­ing events man­age­ment com­pany, Parker Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, whose owner Mick Parker said: “As a com­pany, we pride our­selves on sup­port­ing lo­cal and na­tional char­i­ties and we are de­lighted to be work­ing with the GeeWizz char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion and play­ing our part in help­ing this fan­tas­tic event, which will sup­port peo­ple in our com­mu­nity.”

The GeeWizz char­ity ball, which is sup­ported by me­dia part­ner EADT Suf­folk Mag­a­zine, will also in­clude a lavish auc­tion, with star prizes from in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned sculp­tor Shaun Bros­nan, and lead­ing ab­stract im­pres­sion­ist artist Ben Mosley, whose work can be found in pri­vate col­lec­tions through­out the world. Both are pre­vi­ous sup­port­ers of Gina’s fundrais­ing.

Ben has been com­mis­sioned by the Lon­don 2012 Olympics and Wem­b­ley Sta­dium to pro­duce orig­i­nal and bespoke can­vases for some of the most iconic sport­ing names in­clud­ing Sir Bobby Rob­son, Mo Farah and Wayne Rooney. For the GeeWizz char­ity ball auc­tion, he has painted a one-off ex­clu­sive im­age of David Bowie and Mo­hammed Ali. Shaun will pro­vide a golden ticket prize, a bespoke sculp­ture worth an es­ti­mated £10,000.

Ip­swich-based James Rook Sanc­tu­ary Per­son­nel have do­nated 10 prizes for the auc­tion in sup­port of coura­geous Suf­folk teenager Kim Sale, who had to have her leg am­pu­tated to halt the growth of a Ewings Sar­coma can­cer­ous tu­mour. They have joined forces with the lo­cal com­mu­nity to fundraise for a new pros­thetic limb for sports mad Kim.

Auc­tion­eer Ed­ward Crich­ton will be of­fer­ing guests an ar­ray of spec­tac­u­lar auc­tion prizes, which in­clude a chance to see any Manch­ester United game with the best hos­pi­tal­ity at Old Traf­ford, a TalkS­port ex­pe­ri­ence, cour­tesy of award win­ning break­fast show host Alan Brazil, and a very unique ‘hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment’ aware­ness train­ing – ideal for cor­po­rates and team-build­ing.

Other prizes have been do­nated by in­ter­na­tional pho­tog­ra­pher Tom Mur­ray, Maison Bleue owner Pas­cal Can­evet, who is of­fer­ing a fine din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for eight peo­ple at home. Go Ape have cre­ated a bespoke team-build­ing pack­age, while there is also a 200-bird shoot day cour­tesy of Hall Farm, near Bury St Ed­munds, and a chance to have your busi­ness pro­filed in the pages of the East Anglian Daily Times and Suf­folk Mag­a­zine.

With such a glit­ter­ing ar­ray of auc­tion items, Gina, who also praised the sup­port of her team, Mad­die Tasker, Laura Bloom­field and Kirsty Downes, said: “I can­not ex­press how grate­ful I am to every­one who is sup­port­ing the GeeWizz char­ity ball. It will herald al­most a year since the char­ity was launched and I can­not think of a more per­fect way to cel­e­brate that mile­stone than by rais­ing vi­tal funds for the chil­dren, fam­i­lies and young adults we proudly sup­port. I send the big­gest heart­felt thank you to you all.”

The Fulcher broth­ers, helped by Gina’s char­ity work

The Sir Bobby char­ity ball, ini­ti­ated by Gina

OHIW Eng­land’s Graeme Swann is sup­port­ing GeeWizz. At Sir Bobby’s Break­through Auc­tion and Ball at the Apex in Bury St Ed­munds An­drew and Gina Long with Chris Hollins and his fa­ther John Hollins. Chris will be MC at this year’s ball.

EHORZ Singer Laura Wright will be per­form­ing at the ball.

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