Organiser Spotlight – The Chestnut Appeal

The Chestnut Appeal, based in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, has been at the forefront of raising awareness about prostate cancer, as well as other male cancers such as testicular and penile cancer, across the South West since 1999.

They believe it is essential to get more men talking about their health and being more open to taking action when they feel something might be wrong. These cancers can be quite treatable when caught soon enough, but, there can be a lack of support around men’s health that can mean these cancers can have devastating effects.

We spoke to David Squires from The Chestnut Appeal to tell us all about his fundraising events and how Helm Tickets has helped grow them.

Can you tell us about your events and how you came to run them?

Back in 2011, we wondered about holding a swim in aid of the charity. Open Water swimming was just taking off and the creation of ‘groups’ on Facebook had started to attract lots of interest.After a meeting with the safety team, who were then housed on an industrial estate in deepest Cornwall, we set about launching the 2011 Burgh Island Swim.I’m not sure how the word spread, but it did and before we knew it we had people signing up from across the UK. And so, on 4th September 2011, 125 swimmers took to the waters off the South Devon coast and completed the 1 mile swim around Burgh Island.The money raised through that swim back in 2011 topped the £25,000 mark. Needless to say, we haven’t looked back since and now run a series of swims across the summer from Burgh Island to St Michael’s Mount.

Can you tell us about your events and how you came to run them?

The summer of 2018 will be long remembered for the heatwave, but it also brought some unseasonable weather which caused both the St Michael’s Mount swim and the Burgh Island swim to be rescheduled.We keep an eye on the weather and sea conditions in the run-up to a swim and keep in constant touch with our safety team if things are looking like we might have to postpone.As an event organiser, it’s really important to remember you can’t control the weather. It can be a headache having to postpone an event but you really do have to think ‘safety first’.It’s something to bear in mind when you set the date for the event that you have a reserve date. Ideally, you would want to have this date set beforehand so if you do have to postpone then you have a new date to offer the participants.And we also offer the participants an option of if they can’t make the new date that they transfer to a different swim or even transfer to the following year.

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What strategies does the charity have for ensuring repeat attendance and simultaneously reaching new audiences?

As for attracting a new audience, we haven’t really got a strategy but rely on word of mouth. There was a cluster of people signing up for the first swim in 2011 who came from Buckinghamshire. How and why we never found out, but to this day we still get swimmers and new swimmers from Bucks.

How were you managing your tickets before you began using Helm?

It was just a case of asking people to send in a cheque for registration. It was only 7 years ago but it was very different. Everything back then was pretty much done via letter and the post.

What made you switch to Helm Tickets? And, How has Helm changed the way you manage your events?

When Jon approached us with the idea of online ticketing in 2015 we jumped at the chance and year on year it has made the whole process smoother to manage and easier for the participant. Even back in 2015 people were resistant to registering online and we were still taking paper registrations., Now in 2018 it’s 100% online registrations.

What are your top tips for organising charity fundraising events?

Do something you enjoy. I’ve been swimming all my life. Jumping into the water where and when possible. So organising a swim makes great sense.Don’t over-elaborate. Keep it simple. If it’s a swim, make sure that it’s safe – it’s fun and it’s a challenge. A football tournament –  it’s about the Football. you don’t need bouncy castles and face painting!

Thanks to David speaking to us and choosing Helm Tickets! Check out his upcoming events over at The Chestnut Appeal website If you’d like to be featured in Organiser Spotlight or you’d like more information about Helm Tickets, get in touch and check out our other blogs in the meantime!

Charity Event, Organiser Spotlight, The Chestnut Appeal

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