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Have you ‘herd’ about the new team members at Collingwood Insurance Services?

Collingwood Insurance Services

Specialist car insurance company, Collingwood Insurance Services, set themselves an elephant-sized challenge recently – to fundraise enough money to give a Great North Elmer a home! 

Staff from their North Tyneside-based offices spotted the colourful elephants across the region as part of St Oswald’s Hospice’s Great North Elmer art trail and, when they ‘herd’ that they would be auctioned to raise funds for the local charity, the team decided that they would love to give one a forever home.

A project team, led by Helen Shields, head of the Contact Centre, was swiftly assembled, made up of staff from across the organisation’s different teams and two buildings and a fundraising plan was put in place.

An elephant sized challenge

"We knew we had to work fast!"

Helen told us: “I drive through the Tyne Tunnel every day and spotted the Elmer located there and loved it. As an organisation, we have fundraised for charities before, so when I heard that the Elmers would be available to bid on, with all the funds going to St Oswald’s Hospice, I thought it would be a really brilliant way of supporting a great local cause. We originally hoped to raise £1500 which we thought might be enough to secure our own Elmer, but our fundraising soon took off and we smashed our original target.

“We knew we had to work fast as it was just six weeks to go until the auction, so a few emails to all heads of department, and we had a project team assembled. It was the first time we’ve managed to have representatives from both buildings, across all departments and it was brilliant to have the whole organisation involved. Between us, we had so many creative ideas and there was such a buzz in the office, with everyone really on-board.

“Some of the ways we raised funds included car washing for donations, cake bakes, tombolas and the very popular ‘splat the manager’ game. We put together drink and sweet hampers using donated items and held a hugely successful raffle using some brilliant prizes donated by business contacts and suppliers, which in itself raised over £3,000. We put a chart in reception where we could track the money raised, and it was exciting to watch it shoot up as the weeks went by.”

Helen and the team decided to boost their fundraising further by  dedicating a whole week to Elmer, with something different happening each day.

Shocked to raise £7,200 after Halloween week fundraising

Helen explained: “We chose Halloween week to really push our fundraising and did everything from retro games challenges and coin tosses to fancy dress, best dressed desk and pumpkin carving competitions. Our colleagues Debby and Shirley, opened up a diner selling breakfast butties and we invited St Oswald’s fundraiser Sarah in to judge our competitions and join in the fun.

“By the time the auction night arrived, we were over the moon and shocked to have raised £7,200! We has originally hoped to be able to buy one Elmer, but it suddenly looked as though we might be able to get a couple. Our final amount was then topped up by the business to a whopping £9200. We had looked through the souvenir guide and picked out some favourites to bid for, and on the night, fifteen members of the team went along, including those who has sold the most raffle tickets and those heavily involved in the fundraising.

“We were excited and nervous as we didn’t know what to expect, especially when the first lot went for a massive £10,000! But we were delighted to be the winning bidders for not one, not two but three beautiful Elmers. Lots of our colleagues were watching at home via the live feed and said how exciting it was to see our paddle waving around every time we placed a bid!”

As an organisation, we have fundraised for charities before, so when I heard that the Elmers would be available to bid on, with all the funds going to St Oswald’s Hospice, I thought it would be a really brilliant way of supporting a great local cause.

Helen Shields, Collingwood Insurance Services

An elephantastic fundraising effort

Helping Hakuna to the hospice

As well as being the winning bidders of three Elmer sculptures, Collingwood Insurance Services also generously donated to an appeal on the night to win an Elmer for St Oswald’s Children’s Service to keep. Thanks to the audience’s kind donations, Hakuna Ma Elephant was won by the hospice and will be displayed in their children’s unit for the young people and their families to enjoy.

Collingwood Insurance have now taken delivery of their very own mini herd, and they have plans to ensure they settle in quickly.

Helen finished: “Stitches, Tynie and Savanna were delivered a few days after the auction to a wonderful welcome at Collingwood Insurance. No one could believe we now had our own elephant family, and everyone seems to have a different favourite. Because of this, we plan to rotate their positions in our two buildings, so all the staff have a chance to see and enjoy them.

“We had a fantastic six weeks raising funds for St Oswald’s and I really think it’s set the precedence for future charity days. To see our whole organisation come together with such a brilliant result was really inspiring. We are delighted to not only have some fantastic new team members in Stitches, Tynie and Savanna, but most importantly, to have raised thousands of pounds to support the families who rely on St Oswald’s Hospice.”

A huge thank you the whole Collingwood team

Sarah Tait, Fundraiser at St Oswald’s Hospice added: “We just want to say a huge, elephant-sized thank you to the whole Collingwood team for throwing their support behind the trail and for being such enthusiastic, dedicated fundraisers. They raised a phenomenal amount of money in a very short space of time, and we are so pleased they were able to give three of the herd a forever home.

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