Briefs have played a big part of the #TeamHonk story this year, but I don’t mean that. It just feels like there should be a Comic Relief de brief now it is over for 2013.
As Mr B said, or rather sang in his best Hot Chocolate voice “It started with a Tweet….” and it did. A Tweet to ask about bloggers being involved, in what I thought at the time would just be fund raising. A Tweet that led to a meeting outlining crazy bad ass ideas about pimping my car out to resemble a huge red nose driving around the UK with Annie, organising blogger fund raising events. “We could do a parachute jump” one of us said. “We could have a huge party”. “It will be great fun”.
We didn’t expect what happened next. That Comic Relief would have to go away and check the legalities of the madness we had unleashed, and in the meantime would email and say “Want to come to Ghana and cover the social media around some TV we are arranging to highlight 25 years of #GoodWork?”.
We had to keep it a secret. We couldn’t talk about it. Do you have any idea how impossible that is for a blogger? To keep a secret? So #SecretThing was born. Penny came on board.
#SecretThing grew. People wanted to know about it. And more importantly people wanted to help. They wanted in. They wanted to share and be a part of it.
When we announced to bloggers it was for Comic Relief there was much screaming.
When we said it was no longer #SecretThing but now #GoodWork and we were going to Ghana for 48 hours there was more screaming and much fainting.
When we Tweeted at Heathrow that we were going with Jonathan Ross and Davina McCall there was more screaming, much more fainting and a whole load of pant wetting. (that last bit might have just been me).
Between the three of us there had been plotting. There were Google Hangouts. There were late night chats. There was nail biting. There were vaccinations over Christmas. There was much much organising. None of it asked for, it was never in the original remit but TeamHonk were on board with Comic Relief and we wanted to show what an epic bunch bloggers are. That we don’t want press releases to copy and paste on our blogs. We want engagement. We want something we can relate to. We whipped up the excitement with #SecretThing. People asking just what was going on? What were we plotting? Nobody was allowed to know until the end of January and then immediately after that we were off. Timescales were tight and that got excitement to fever pitch.
And then we were there. We were in Ghana. We were in projects seeing exactly where money had been spent. It was inspiring. Yes inspiring. Seeing people who by our standards had nothing. Yet they had everything. They were working, running their own businesses, being educated, had access to support groups, to training, to vaccinations, thanks to the generosity of the UK. We saw TV links being made. We got mobbed by children in a school who at nap time sleep on the floor, and who, the week before, had mobbed One Direction. We helped make bread. We blew bubbles with children and made them giggle. We talked about football. We made memories that we will never forget.
When we set up the Team Honk Linky we had no idea that over 250 bloggers would write posts about what we were doing and link up. The biggest blogger charity engagement we have ever come across. We emailed photos back to bloggers. After a hard day with no time to do anything, no time to sit and chat and enjoy a cup of tea together and digest the day, we were on our computers sending emails with photos. Photos that became blog posts. Links to them on Twitter. All with #GoodWork in them. So many that it was trending over three days. As was #TeamHonk.
The momentum was incredible. We sat back and watched it roll. Like a snow ball that rolls around getting bigger and bigger. There was no stopping it. We didn’t want it to stop.
When we got back bloggers kept that momentum going and so the fund raising began. They had seen what a difference just a few Pounds make. They wanted to make a difference. They knew they could make a difference. So there were more plans. More plotting. More screaming.
“Let’s do Snowdon”.
“Not farking likely” said I.
“I’ll cut my hair off” said Annie
“I will cycle 25 miles” said I (I must have been very drunk)
“We will bake cakes”
“I will wear my big silver dress from 1985 to Rock Choir rehearsals”
“I will have a tattoo”
“We will donate a percentage from the sale of red pants”
“We will hold a bake sale and wear something red day, here at school”
People were doing things to raise money. They wanted to put themselves out to do something funny for money. To raise money.
Companies heard about what we were doing and offered free accommodation at the Youth Hostel, socks, brownies, pants. We had been inundated with gifts to take out to Ghana, from my daughter’s school, a dress maker, my friend who makes balms, more pants, crayons, bubbles, you name it and we had it in our suitcases. Half our luggage was presents for the projects from kindly folk at home.
The pants became a huge part of Team Honk. And we then learned that the company making them had themselves received funding from Comic Relief a few years ago. The Snowdon climbers wore them over the trousers. Even the boys. It was all coming full circle. It was all coming together.
And then Team Honk’s original members came together for one final time on Friday night at the BBC. Invited along to be in the audience for the TV show. The last show being filmed at the BBC. More screaming, more fainting (mostly Annie), more pant wetting (me again when I saw Davina and Tennant just 10 feet away).
And then at 2am on Saturday morning it was over.
We had been a part of raising £10,000 for Comic Relief. Ten thousand Pounds. A mere drop in the £75 Million ocean raised on the night but my god, a huge figure when we know that just a fiver saves a life and £300 buys a well to provide clean water.
Team Honk was done for 2013. And that felt, well, a bit pants, really.