There is one thing you can certainly count on in Birmingham in a time of need. That is, the city coming together to support each of the many communities, that make up this beautiful multi-cultural centre of the UK, in a time of need. When local businessman, James Wong, and the Chinese community asked me to help them with their fundraiser, to assist with getting much needed medical supplies, and more, to their friends and family in Wuhan,China, then I jumped to the challenge. Actually, when I say challenge, it was far from that for me. I simply had to help spread the word ahead of the event and turn up to an ITV interview, prior to hosting the evenings event on Monday 10th February 2020.
James Wong and Wendy Choy of the Chinese Community, and James, also Chair of Southside BID, were supported by President of the Overseas Chinese Association, Tom Lee. Collectively they pulled together an event fundraising idea that would have only 10 days to execute. No small feat for anybody hosting such a gathering. However, Birmingham being what it is, we all pulled together and worked hard to ensure that this would be a true success and give support to those in need.
A big thank you goes to Cairn Hotel Group (Holiday inn) who gave their amazing, and newly refitted, Birmingham Conference & Events Centre (Hill Street) for FREE! Chung Ying Cantonese Restaurant supplied all of the incredible food for FREE, which included for each table; whole seabass, steamed chicken, roasted duck, sweet & sour chicken, beef in black-bean sauce, and an endless list of other starts and mains. An array of sponsors gave cash in kind, auction and raffle prizes, and of course bought tables at £700 each (for 10) for approximately 200 people to be in attendance on a Monday evening in February!
The night kicked off with an array of movers and shakers from the city playing their part and networking freely before the main event.
As the host of the evening I had finally managed to get James Wong to sit down (only 20 mins before the commencement of the event) and run through: a schedule, running order, special guest speakers, prizes and entertainment; and was subsequently able to make myself a plan! I must confess, I do not normally work on such a ‘final hour’ production schedule but under the circumstances, many of the details hadn’t been finalised until that day and James was still asking his team questions as we sat down to plan. However, I am able to deal with last minute changes, being a consummate professional, so we merely stretched my idea of changes to accommodate.
A last-minute check-in with Darren, the sound and light technician, and I was calling people to dinner in the main arena and opening the event. A warm welcome and insight into the night’s schedule followed by me welcoming an array of distinguished guests to speak and pledge their support to help Birmingham help others in Wuhan. We welcomed: The Birmingham Lord Mayor – Councillor Mohamed Aziz, West Midlands Mayor – Andy Street, President of The Overseas Chinese Association – Tom Lee, James Wong – Chinese Festival Committee, Southside BID Chair, Owner of Chung Ying Group and finally, Professor KK Cheng from the University of Birmingham who gave a powerful but practical insight into the Coronavirus, and as with any virus, how to try and be careful in everyday life, especially about washing hands and other simple things, in stopping the spread of germs. All spoke with passion and togetherness, which made you feel incredibly proud as a Birmingham businessman, resident and fellow human-being! Other guests included Southside BID, Birmingham Chinese Lions, The Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre, Bootcamp Media, Colmore BID, Councillor Alex Yip and Birmingham City Council. Too many to name but all incredibly worthy and appreciated.
My role was simple, or I certainly make look it, that is; keep it energised, keep it flowing and ensure that the message is clear and thus achieving a successful end result. There were performances from: Wan Sheung Dance, Birmingham’s Chinese Society Karaoke, Dan’s Dance and finally the fantastic Elegant Entertainment. A raffle with incredible prizes from numerous donors in the city, businesses and personal, and also an auction that included artwork by Nancy Duan and also Kealey Farmer too. I worked the auction to its max and collectively the raffles and auction raised circa £4,500.
As a host I like to work the room and ensure people are enjoying themselves and feel engaged with the evening, that is my role. Here, I didn’t fail to deliver, and the entire evening was a huge success. People had fun, ate well, enjoyed traditional Chinese and British entertainment, heard some passionate speeches and were able to network with friends, colleagues and strangers alike, who maybe became new friends.
I really love what I do as a host, whether it’s a corporate event, an awards dinners, charity night, opening of some kind, a fashion show and so much more. I aim to bring togetherness, and ensure smoothness, taking the pressure off the organiser so they can relax and enjoy what they’ve created. I felt privileged to host something that would help so many, while also helping the people in the room enjoy a fundraising evening.
In all, we raised £33,525.00 for China, and the people of Wuhan!
The right host helps get to the right result but it’s the coming together of a team of like-minded people that really helps make things happen.
Congratulations to everybody who gave their time freely, gave event space, supplied entertainment, organised the night, donated prizes, bought tickets, gave speeches and attended the evening; including the support from BBC Midlands Today and ITV Central News.
Presenter/ Host / MC