Comedian Griff Rhys Jones has helped a leading children’s hospice scoop a coveted fundraising award thanks to its Happy Christmas Ipswich spectacular. East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) was victorious during the Chartered Institute of Fundraising East Anglia Awards ceremony on Tuesday night.
The category was Event/Campaign of the Year and EACH prevailed thanks to its hugely-successful Happy Christmas Ipswich 2 showstopper, staged in collaboration with Griff and held at The Regent Theatre last December. The charity, which supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions, already knew it had been shortlisted and highly commended for the event, which raised a staggering £92,000.
However, it was announced as the award winner during a virtual ceremony. Griff said: “Well, this is really Happy Christmas for EACH – and all its great work. The whole fundraising team is to be congratulated and so many people do so much. “Especially big thanks to all the artistes who visit ye olde Ippeswiche. Big names, big laffs and me.
“Watch this space, though, because Happy Christmas Ipswich 3 is on its way. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it. Bigger and bouncier and even more fun. A Christmas present for a really important service – one East Anglia can be proud of.” EACH Events Manager Becky Redbond was delighted to receive the award.
She said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won this very prestigious East Anglia Institute of Fundraising Award. It’s fantastic and much-appreciated recognition for Happy Christmas Ipswich 2, which was such a resounding success last December.
“We’re extremely thankful to Griff, who pulled out all the stops and is such a loyal and tireless supporter. Thanks to him, this event was a major highlight of our fundraising year. He dipped into his book of celebrity contacts once again and did EACH proud.
“Staff members and volunteers also pulled together and it truly was a team effort, starting with months of planning, followed by a huge reliance on so many people to make sure everything ran smoothly on the night. It will live long in the memory and be remembered with huge fondness by everyone involved, as well as those fortunate enough to be there on the night.”
Happy Christmas 2 was a fun-packed night of laughs, music and entertainment and followed the first event of its type, held in 2019. It featured household names including Eddie Izzard, Johnny Vegas, Stephen Fry and Clive Anderson, as well as music from West End star Ruthie Henshall.
In addition, a series of fun clips of celebrities reading out their favourite cracker jokes was shown on the big screen before and during the show. Huge names including Ant and Dec, speaking from the set of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, Graham Norton and David Walliams got in the spirit and responded to Griff’s request.
Another highlight was a special film showed at the end of the first half, before cutting to a call-to-action donation page. It was about Erin Sadler, who has complex, life-threatening health conditions and receives care at The Treehouse, in Ipswich.
The film featured a powerful interview with mum Helen and was well-received on the night, with one audience member donating £2,000. “Despite being one of the first major events of this nature since pre-Covid times, there was incredibly strong community and corporate engagement, tickets sold out within three days of a media launch and the event raised over £90,000,” added Becky.
“Generating funds was the prime objective but the evening was also hugely successful in terms of raising awareness of the vital work we do. Despite this success, we’re never content to rest on our laurels and the planning process is already well underway ahead of Happy Christmas Ipswich 3, in December.”
Emily Carpenter, chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising East Anglia Awards committee, said EACH should be proud of its Happy Christmas Ipswich event. She said: “In one of the most competitive nomination categories, this event stood out to us as a brilliant example of cross-organisation collaboration.
“It utilised networks and rallied a community together to surpass all expectations, both financial and in terms of awareness. We were delighted to choose EACH as the winners of our Campaign/Event of the Year category for 2022.” In addition to The Treehouse, EACH has two other hospices – The Nook, just outside Norwich, and at Milton, near Cambridge.