Wednesday, 8 February 2012

"What's in a name?...

...That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Well, I have taken some flak over the last few weeks for announcing that we were planning to change the names of our West Midlands radio stations - but another name change we announced yesterday seems to have gone down rather better.

A bit of background. We've been running the Walkathon on brmb for the last two years, in its original 1980s form - i.e. a full 26 mile hike round the city. We've introduced a few new twists, but the essence of having to walk round the outer circle bus route remains the same gruelling but ultimately very rewarding challenge it has always been.

In our first year, 2010, the walk raised cash to help build "a home for the brave" at the new QE (see earlier post below)

In 2011 it raised money to help refurbish the Accident and Emergency department of the Birmingham Childrens Hospital.

In total over those two years Brummie walkers helped raise £665,000.

And despite our impending name change, we were determined to do another walk for local charities this year, with a hope that we might might push the three year total to £1m or more funds raised, and spent, on good causes here in the city.

So towards the back end of 2011, we met with a number of the significant local charities in our patch to see if there was a way we could work together.... and the charity that jumped out was Acorns, a childrens' hospice based in Selly Oak. This is the original Acorns, and was built and opened in the mid-80s, as only the third children's hospice in the world. Part of the original funding came from the 1980s series of brmb Walkathons, so there was a nice symmetry to helping them again, in advance of their 25th anniversary. 

They are in desperate need of cash to refurbish the whole of their facilities; bedrooms, bathrooms, carpets, specialist equipment etc, so they were a perfect partner for the 2012 walk. In the course of our conversations with them, we got to talking about Harry Moseley, who had recently passed away, and was at that point still at Acorns in one of their special rooms, allowing his family to grieve and be with him prior to his funeral - just one of the remarkable things Acorns does for families in their time of need. 

Harry had rightly become famous for his unbelievable spirit, and his entrepreneurial approach to helping raise cash for other kids in his situation. His was a truly inspirational story which touched people across the UK, but particularly here in Birmingham. 

Harry had become close to brmb Head of Sport Tom Ross, after a very moving interview Tom did with him. So, via a combination of conversations with Acorns, Tom and the Children's Hospital, where Harry had been treated, we sat down with Georgie, Harry's mum late last year.

I suggested something quite tentatively, not knowing how she would react. "Would she mind,..." I asked, "...if we renamed the 2012 Walkathon as  "Walk for Harry," in order to help raise funds both for Acorns and for Harry's other initiatives?" Yes said Georgie, provided we guaranteed some of the funds would go specifically to help further the remarkable research work being done on childhood brain cancer by Harry's doctor, Andrew Peet, at the Birmingham Childrens Hospital. That was a pretty easy question for us to say yes to, and so project "Walk for Harry" was conceived.

Little did we know that, after Harry's interview with Tom last year, he had gone home and said to Georgie "I want the walkathon next year to be for my charity!" I think Georgie kept that from us until everything had been sorted out, for fear of jinxing the project!
As part of the preparation for the launch, we asked Foxy & Giuliano, our breakfast show presenters, to go and meet Georgie to help explain the idea of the walk to listeners, and you can see the extremely moving video they made here.

We publicly launched "Walk for Harry" yesterday, at the Cocktail Bar at Marco Pierre White's new restaurant in The Cube - what an amazing place to launch an amazing charity appeal. Central News covered it, and you can see their report about 8m 50s into this bulletin.

I have to say that Georgie is a remarkable woman, and her approach to keeping Harry's memory alive is both inspiring and humbling. We are simply thrilled to be able to play our part in the continuing story of Harry Moseley.

Having now done two walks, we know how special they are - but everyone involved has a feeling in their bones that this year is going to be extra-special. If you are in or around Brum on Sunday May 13th, and can walk either 10 miles (the Family/Junior half walk) or the full 26 miles -- we'd love to see you for what promises to be a memorable day. You can register here

So, whilst changing the name of brmb to Birmingham's Free Radio has blotted my copyboook (only temporarily I hope) with a few of our listeners, the one thiing I have consistently promised is that we wouldn't lose our sense of local community or belonging - and "Walk for Harry" is only the first manifestation of that continued commitment.

And today we also launched our Walk of Warwickshire, to raise money of the University Hospitals of Coventry & Warwickshire Baby Care appeal; our Walk of the Black Country to raise funds for Wolverhampton based charity Promise Dreams; and new for 2012, the Walk of Worcestershire, raising money for the Worcester branch of Acorns. 

Right - if I've got four Free walks to do, thats 60 miles - time to get training.

1 comment:

  1. Hats off to you all at BRMB/Birmighams Free Radio. I thinks it's a brilliant thing that you are doing and having the pleasure to know Georgina through our event I can only agree with your statement that she is a "remarkable women" indeed.
    Hats off to you.
    This event will be the best so far. It's a pitty we are cycling to London so we will miss it. But on the flip side. We are also doing it for the "brummie Lengend" that is Harry Moseley