The hustle and bustle of last minute checks, then calm descends as the clock ticks round and the first supporter arrives. Yes, I’m talking about our annual Supporters’ day. A day we show our appreciation to some ofthose who are helping make a difference to the lives of the huge number of people, for whom each day is a constant struggle.
This year’s theme was all about ‘Connecting’ and from the opening introduction to the closing address our supporters definitely embraced the theme of the day. This was highlighted in the ‘Inspiring innovation’ workshop as I watched the look on the faces of some people who realised that working in teams, they would be making a floating garden. One lady turning to her husband with hope in her voice said “we don’t have to make anything do we”, then both looking to me for reassurance just to have it dashed when I replied “it’s a show and tell – I hope you have a Blue Peter badge”. But twenty minutes later everyone really embraced the task as was evident by a room full of excited, and I must add very competitive voices, as each team tested the strength of their floating garden. Well done to all the teams who successfully achieved the task.
Throughout the day we also received many testimonials from supporters:
One lady decided last minute to come and said “I’ve never been before but I’ve really enjoyed it and will definitely come again. I love the fact you get to hear about the work from the Country Director’s, but you also have the opportunity to talk to them direct – amazing”.
Anne from Brighton said “A number of years ago I worked for a French organisation that did similar work to Practical Action, which is why I support you. You are not a quick fix organisation”
There were also stories of the extraordinary effort our supporters go to in order to arrive at the venue on time – like Peter from the valleys of South Wales who stayed in a guest house so he could catch his train to Paddington in good time. He was particularly interested and inspired by our renewable energy projects.
Other highlights include Margaret playing the DRTV advert; Stephen Watson talking about our new strategy; Barney and Simon’s workshop on ‘changing the world’ and Amy pedalling on the road to nowhere trying to entice more victims to try the ‘Watt bike’. These are just a fraction of the activities and presentations throughout the day, which are far too many to mention.
As supporters go into the closing address the frantic job of dismantling exhibitions, repacking equipment, and loading onto the van begins. So I’d like to acknowledge Julie and Michaela who worked tirelessly on the logistics of the day to make it happen, and to all the other participants and helpers behind that supported them.
The day is over and some very contented supporters make their way home – another successful event over for another year.
I’ve been to quite a few supporter days in my 20 years at Practical Action but I’m still amazed by the enthusiasm, passion, dedication, and generosity of our supporters – they definitely are the best.