Westside BID chair reveals fund-raising power of major public events

The fund-raising power of major public events such as firework displays can result in substantial donations to charities, according to Westside BID chair Gerald Manton.

Mr Manton was commenting after he and Solihull councillor Daniel Gibbin presented a cheque for £15,000 towards the artistic renovation of the Coniston Suite, a specialist NHS child protection unit based at Solihull Hospital.

The donation was made via the University Hospitals Birmingham Charity by Solihull Round Table, which until this summer was chaired by Mr Manton. Cllr Gibbin is also a member of Solihull Round Table

The money came from funds raised from entrance fees to the 2021 Solihull Fireworks Display, organised by the Solihull Round Table.

A total of £96,000 was raised for charity at the event, and the £15,000 for the Coniston Suite was the final donation to be presented from the funds.

Mr Manton said: “People think of events like firework displays and think of all the fun, lights and excitement that they can bring to those who attend.

“But if carefully organised and planned, these types of events can raise sizeable charitable funds from entry fees paid by thousands of people.

“People are happy to pay reasonable entry fees to such events as they then know that not only do they enjoy a great night out but that any funds raised will go towards a deserving case.

“In this case, Solihull Round Table decided it was the turn of children who are among the most needy in the West Midlands because of the abuse or neglect they have suffered.

Cllr Gibbin said “It was awe-inspiring to see the work done at the Coniston Suite at Solihull Hospital and very satisfying to know that the funds raised by Solihull Round Table will make life that little bit more pleasant for young people.

“The unit is currently quite dark and depressing, but this £15,000 will pay for the walls to be decorated with bright colourful artwork, toys for children to play, a new comfortable seating area and TVs for the younger children to enjoy.”

In his and Cllr Gibbin’s time on Solihull Round Table between 2010 and 2022, Mr Manton estimates that more than £500,000 has been raised for local charities.

Mr Manton explained that in his new role as chair of Westside BID he wanted to plan a number of major public events in the area. One idea is a huge New Year’s Eve fireworks display in Centenary Square, while other initiatives planned include night markets and a giant beer festival.

He added: “If planned properly with some of the experience I bring from Solihull Round Table, such events could potentially raise tens of thousands of pounds for chosen charities in the local area.

“Westside BID’s main role is to represent and support the businesses in and around the Broad Street area. But by planning huge public events we can both bring more footfall their way and at the same time to show how the business world cares by raising funds for charities in the local community.”

Main picture: Gerald Manton (left) and Cllr Daniel Gibbin present £15k to Solihull Hospital

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