Ben has a ball

Automotive charity and bodyshop Magazine charity partner for 2016 Ben raised more than £203,000 at its annual Ben Ball, held at the Grosvenor House, London this week.

The funds raised will be invaluable in helping Ben continue its vital work in supporting people with their financial, physical, social and mental health and wellbeing.

Guests were welcomed by Zara Ross, chief executive at the not-for-profit organisation, and president Peter Johnson, before enjoying a full evening of entertainment that included a performance from STOMP, a show-stopping production of Journey Through the Musicals and music by Supernova.

During the evening, Daksh Gupta, CEO of Marshall Motor Group who raised over £151,000 for Ben in this year’s Industry Leader Challenge (ILC) skydive, handed the baton for ILC 2017 to Jeremy Hicks, MD of Jaguar Land Rover UK.

Jeremy, who has been a Trustee of Ben for two years, will galvanise his team to raise awareness and beat Daksh’s £151,000 in the ‘Jaguar Land Rover Channel Swim Challenge’ next summer. Jeremy will be swimming the English Channel, along with 11 of his Jaguar Land Rover colleagues in a two team relay in August 2017.

Jeremy said, ‘I am challenging myself, my team and also the industry to get behind our own dedicated industry charity. Without the vital support from the industry Ben couldn’t continue to provide the much-needed services to our colleagues. It’s easy to take our health for granted, so this challenge will raise awareness of the importance of maintaining a good level of physical fitness – whatever our age!

‘Ben is a vital lifeline and its sole purpose is to help improve the health and wellbeing of the automotive workforce, reducing absence, raising productivity and morale. I’m really excited to be taking up the ILC baton for 2017; I’ve got big shoes to fill as Daksh has set a stretching target for us to beat. I need the support of everyone working in the automotive community to help us smash the £151,000 raised by Daksh. That’s my challenge, so please, get behind me – let’s make it count.’

Meanwhile, the Ben Ball auction provided another highlight on the night with a vast number of donations from across the automotive industry and beyond. The star prize of the night was the special edition Jaguar 3.0 litre V6 380PS Supercharged F-PACE S, which was personally created by Jaguar’s director of design Ian Callum, and raised £102,500.

Providing a flavour of how Ben uses moneys raised, Chris Brown explained how the charity had helped him and his family during their time of need.

He said, ‘I was really pleased to attend the Ball and tell my story about the ongoing support my family has received from Ben. Without Ben I dread to think what would have become of my family. Ben has given us a lifeline – both emotional and financial support – which I am extremely grateful for. Without Ben and our support manager we would have lost our home and the relationships in our family. A sincere thank you to you all.’

The Ben Ball is the organisation’s annual flagship event with two core objectives: fundraising and raising awareness about the important work the organisation does. The event is a highlight of the automotive industry calendar and has been running for over 90 years.

Zara said, ‘The Ben Ball is our most important event of the year as it highlights the role Ben plays and raises essential income for us to continue supporting our automotive colleagues. The event has helped us to further demonstrate that we’re here for the people working in the industry and that we partner with companies to help them promote an energised and healthy workforce.

‘This year’s event has also helped us showcase our new brand, which we launched in October. This is particularly significant as we wish to demonstrate how Ben has redefined its approach, positioning the organisation as relevant and integral in its support of such an important UK industry. Thank you to everyone who has made this year’s Ball so successful, we greatly appreciate your generous donations and support. I look forward to seeing you at the Ball next year.’