How many French Horn players does it take to change a light bulb?

I’m getting used to this kind of orchestral humour…!

It’s been ten years since I started working with the British Police Symphony Orchestra (BPSO) and twice that time that Sopra Steria has been sponsoring their annual Proms Night Spectacular concert. On Saturday 2 December, we’ll be at Symphony Hall, Birmingham again supporting this incredible amateur orchestra and enjoying a fantastic evening.

BPSO are passionate about helping others and sharing their love of music. The annual Proms Night Spectacular concert is all about raising money to help support their extensive annual programme in 2018. The rest of their concerts raise money for charity and over the years they’ve raised in excess of £150,000 for other charities and good causes.

BPSO also have an extensive outreach programme, “PlayOut!”, working with schools and children’s groups, to introduce young people into playing music and the joy it can bring. Have a read about BPSO’s 2016 project at Ingestre Hall. 

Don’t miss the fun!

This year’s Proms Night Spectacular, with its exciting programme, includes music from Pirates of the Caribbean, Magnificent Seven, Prokoviev – Romeo & Juliet, Out of Africa and Daphnis & Chloe.

Everyone gets involved with the traditional ‘Proms Night’ ending whether it’s letting off party poppers, throwing streamers, jingling bells, waving Union Jack flags or singing along. You’ll be sure enjoy a wonderful finale with Jerusalem, Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope & Glory – and BPSO’s flagship fireworks finish!

I’m always so impressed with the spectacular atmosphere that the orchestra brings to Symphony Hall and I’ve enjoyed some fabulous playing over the years, so I’m not going to apologise for this final sales plug! Join us…

Tickets are on sale and what’s better than a Special Offer? – BPSO are offering a   ‘4 for the price of 3’ special offer on their tickets priced at £23, £18 or £12 each (subject to availability). To take advantage of this fabulous offer, contact claire@bpso.net quoting ‘BPSO5’

And the answer to the joke?

Just one, but they’ll spend two hours checking the bulb for alignment and leaks!

Fundraising for Byte Night: supporting Action for Children

One bike. Three men.

Our challenge? To cycle for 24 hours non-stop to raise money and awareness for a charity called Action for Children who support the 80,000 homeless children in the UK. On Friday 3rd August at 4pm we settled down for what was going to be a fantastic experience of tiredness, camaraderie, humour, shouting, generosity, through rain, wind and sunshine.

Back in May when I first suggested a charity cycle challenge as part of our Byte Night fundraising I couldn’t have guessed how much support we would need and receive; where do you start? Picking the team was easy as when I asked John French, Scotty Davidson who sits opposite jumped in and said “I’ll do that!” Next up, venue. Sure we could have done this in the office but that would have limited scope for donations and sounded somewhat boring.

Edinburgh is a fantastic city and every year in August the population swells so much during the Fringe and International Festivals that I thought it would give us a great opportunity to get as many people as possible to see us and donate. With the main festival venues centred around the Royal Mile which is soooo busy we decided on the West End. Busy enough but not too busy to give us any security concerns.

Next came sourcing a bike, informing the local council, clothing, posters, food, drinks, visitors (for support, security and supplies). Aside from friends and family I’ll get the thanks out of the way now. Massive thanks to:

  • Edinburgh Leisure for the spin bike
  • Brewlab for a couple of cases of water
  • Starbucks for breakfast coffee and muffins, and then more coffee and treats
  • A very kind unnamed woman who after watching us from a nearby bar for around 3 hours suddenly appeared with Big Mac Meals for the 3 of us. She’d asked the bar if she could pay them to bring us a bacon roll for breakfast but they said no – not particularly charitable of them but they will remain nameless
  • And finally to my main partners in crime John and Scotty for helping to organise and keeping us all going

And so on to the main event

After picking up the bike and my team mates we quickly set up and settled in for a long night. The weather was unkind for the first few hours with intermittent heavy rain showers but we were soon visited by colleagues leaving the office for the day. The cycling plan was to do 2 hours on the bike then swap while those off the bike shook the buckets and improved their patter. It’s amazing how quickly you lose any sense of inhibition and start shouting out for the cause to attract attention for donations.

 I don’t plan to give too much of a blow by blow account but will instead pick out what I consider some highlights :

  • During rain showers we used the weather to our advantage by shaming those sheltering in shop doorways to consider those unfortunate children who would have no such shelter overnight
  • Free coffee from a bar across the street who had no idea what we were doing but saw that we were clearly raising money for charity and had already been there for a good few hours
  • Chatting with a homeless young lad who had previously been helped by the charity and was now in a hostel which was helping him get his life back on track
  • Meeting other homeless people that had very little to their name but still offered some chat and some coppers as they know how hard homelessness is
  • Seeing the city move through a whole 24 hours from one fixed spot; this was fascinating watching it ease from early to late evening to very early morning to morning to afternoon and the different people this brought across our path. We watched and chatted to people heading out for the evening, heading home and then dropping by again in the morning just to see if we were still there!
  • Being visited by colleagues late into the night with smiles, food and supplementary shouting at passers by to spare some change
  • A young man who gave us £40 which we said was too much but he insisted as he’d apparently won £9,000 at the casino the night before!
  • Lots of children wanting to pop some change in the bucket having harangued their parents/grandparents for money to help us

24cycle_2Our fundraising target was a few hundred pounds – but we raised over £2,000!!!

What an amazing experience and what an amazing result! But what’s next?

Tonight, Friday 7 October is Byte Night and a group of us from the Edinburgh office will be sleeping out under the stars to raise more money to help fund projects and services run by Action for Children.

It’s not too late to support us – if you’d like to make a donation please visit our justgiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/soprasteriateam

What crazy things have you done to fund raise for charity? Leave a reply below or contact me by email.