On Your Marks 2014, this year’s August family fun day hosted by Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground for Asda staff and invited guests, raised a record £53,850 for Orchid, the charity that fights male cancer. And on 9 December a cheque for the grand total was handed over to the charity by David Walton, managing director of Bruntingthorpe, together with Nichola Moore from Sturgess Motor Group and Peter Wilson from JLG Fork Trucks, both of whom are event sponsors, and the hard-working On Your Marks organisers, Chris Goodwin and John Forde, together with event co-ordinator, Jonty Moore.
Mr Forde, who has been involved with On Your Marks since its inception 14 years ago, says that after 2013’s record £46,200 – also donated to Orchid – he never expected to see that sort of total again. “How wrong I was! And how we under-estimated the generosity of all our supporters and all 24,000 people who turned up at Bruntingthorpe on August 9th for what is, in effect, now the biggest one-day charity show in the country. Today’s hand-over means that in the past two years, On Your Marks has donated more than £100,000 to Orchid.”
The choice of Orchid is particularly poignant as On Your Marks started when Asda driver, Mark Higginbottom, was sadly diagnosed with lymphatic cancer and had only a short time to live. Bruntingthorpe managing director, David Walton, gave John and Chris permission to hold a fund-raising day on the proving ground. “We agreed to put some Asda trucks on the track for colleagues to pay to drive them with a driving instructor beside them. A couple of car clubs kindly agreed to help us by taking paying passengers around the track,” explains John.
“Unfortunately, Mark passed away before the day. But £7,500 was raised for his wife and children. The day was deemed a success and we were asked if we could continue with the a similar event the following year. Thirteen years down the line we have raised in excess of £316,000 for charities and are now looking to the magical £400,000… The 2015 On Your Marks is on August 8th and could well take the total raised close to that milestone.
“Of course we couldn’t do any of this without the support and generosity of a great number of people including Bruntingthorpe, Asda, JLG Fork Trucks, Jaguar Cars and many other organisations and individuals.
“So many make valuable contributions to ensure that the day is a success. For example, the companies who dismantle aircraft at Bruntingthorpe arranged for a VC10 to be open for visitors. We hoped it would raise around £200 for the local Air Cadet Corps because their youngsters assist us every year. In the event, we were able to hand them £1,600 for their funds!”
The Lutterworth Food Bank also benefited from the fun day. Organisers asked that a simple donation of a tin, or packet, of food was made by occupants of every car turning up on the day. The result was a magnificent three tons of goods being sent to the local good cause.
For the Walton family – owners of the proving ground and airfield and well-known for their support of charities – On Your Marks is an important event in the site’s calendar. “We know only too well how much good that charities do – particularly those connected with fighting cancer,” says David Walton. “And it’s a spectacular occasion to which our local residents are invited by the organisers – a much-appreciated gesture.”
Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground and Airfield is a private, family-owned company employing almost 100 people. With an annual turnover in excess of £8 million it is a significant contributor to the economy, both locally and nationally. The 670-acre former WW2 RAF airfield and USAF base boasts a 60-metre wide, 3.22km (2-mile) runway that is still operational. This makes Bruntingthorpe one of the few proving grounds, vehicle engineering centres and de-fleet centres in the world able to receive visitors in helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft (up to the size of the Airbus A380). The site’s expanding exhibition facilities are winning business from many non-automotive industries.
Orchid exists to save men’s lives from testicular, prostate and penile cancers through a range of support services, pioneering research and promoting awareness. Over 43,000 men will be diagnosed with a male-specific cancer in 2014; from sons to grandfathers all men face the risk of prostate, penile or testicular cancer. Orchid plays a leading role in the fight against male cancer through world-class research, awareness and education campaigns – and by supporting patients.