Q&A

What made you start the global online auction in 2012?

I wanted to create a new transparent and fun fundraising platform which would capture the imagination of the public. To do this, we needed money-can’t-buy auction items, prizes which would make people think ‘I never knew I could do that, but I have always wanted to’. We quickly realised that this form of fundraising would be successful – thanks to the incredible donations and support we received from individuals, businesses and organisations alike.

Why do you think it has become such a worldwide fundraiser?

The first big reason is simply because of the late, great Sir Bobby Robson and the love and respect he still has in the football world and far beyond. I have been a friend of the Robson family for more than 30 years and I always said I would support him when he put together his last – and greatest – team, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. When I started the global online auction, I wanted the Foundation to be one of the main beneficiaries and I am delighted to say that we have raised more than £350,000 for the charity during the first four years of the auction. Also, from the very first day of the very first auction, the momentum has grown and we have been blessed with some incredible donations and support from the likes of Barcelona to Jose Mourinho to Sir Alex Ferguson and so many more in the football world. Away from the beautiful game, everyone from David Cameron to Earl Spencer, Prince Charles to Ant and Dec has supported our fundraising – further adding to its reputation as one of the biggest and best charity auctions. The auction has become a global charity phenomenon, but this wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of all our donors from day one – as well as everyone supporting by helping to promote it and by bidding.

How does the auction work?

Planning for the auction actually starts more than two months before it goes live. Our small, largely voluntary, team work incredibly hard to ensure we get amazing prizes but also super awareness ahead of the auction starting. They all show incredible dedication to ensure we raise as much money as possible for some wonderful and deserving local and national charities. Once the auction goes live, people can bid on some incredible prizes to suit all tastes and budgets. Once they have completed a simple registration form from our brilliant auction hosts, Charity Stars, they can bid for as many items as they would like.

What charities have you supported in the past?

We have been delighted to support some incredible national and local charities doing some amazing work. They have included the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Breast Cancer Now (formerly Breakthrough Breast Cancer), Sarcoma UK, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, Ipswich Hospital and the My WiSH Charity which supports West Suffolk Hospital.

Who are you supporting this year?

The 2017 Ultimate Charity Auction will be supporting In The Game – the League Managers Association Charity and the GeeWizz charitable foundation.

What is it like working on the auction from your Suffolk farm office?

Occasionally frantic, but always wonderful! We have a very close-working auction team and there is always a wonderful atmosphere. If you hear a yelp of delight, it means that we have received another amazing donation.

What is it like during the last few hours of the auction?

There is an amazing buzz around the last few hours of the Ultimate Charity Auction. The whole team is together, sorting out any last minute questions but also watching the auction end with great interest and delight. And when you know you have raised enough money to make a real difference to a family’s life – as in 2015 when we supported Ipswich youngster George Woodward – the tears of joy start to flow.

How can people support the auction?

We are always generously supported from the worlds of sport, celebrity and lifestyle – both internationally and nationally and from our very own home county of Suffolk. We would love to hear from anyone who might have a suitable auction prize they would like to donate. Please get in touch.

 

Even if you don’t think you have a suitable prize but want to support the Ultimate Charity Auction, one message on Facebook, one post on Twitter can make all the difference. Please help us spread the word about the auction.

How can people keep up-to-date during the auction?

One of the wonderful things about the auction is that it is played out in front of the world. Anyone can keep up-to-date with how it is going by simply following the auction on the Charity Stars platform. You can also find us on Twitter @UCOnlineAuction