How much would you bid to travel by private jet to a Formula One race or for VIP ticket to the Professional Footballers’ Association Awards?
An auction inspired by Sir Bobby Robson and dedicated to improving cancer care and funding essential research is aiming to raise £1,000,000 from the sale of incredible lots such as these.
Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Online Auction has set itself this ambitious target and has gained the support of some of the biggest names in sport.
Founder Gina Long said: “Our rationale to raising a very high bar to a million is that the momentum has built and the awareness has built although I work at Hall Farm Bury St Edmunds it has become a global event.”
Founded in 2011 the first Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Online Auction raised £248,000.
The second online auction has gained the backing the FA, the Professional Footballers Association, and the League Managers Association and is being organised by a board which includes England cricketer Graeme Swan the managing director of Mitsubishi Motors, Lance Bradley, Sir Bobby Robson’s son, Mark Robson and the BBC’s Chris Hollins.
The auction is inspired by the footballing legend who Gina describes as a ‘dear friend’.
She said: “There is no doubt this would not be the success it is without having the legend of Sir Bobby Robson everybody loved Bobby and it wasn’t just about football as a man he was the most highly regarded special, special person.
“I think people resonate with the name, with the personality, and wanting to give something back because he represented good, only good, there was no side to bobby that was not good.”
Sir Bobby Robson died after a five-year battle with cancer in 2009, in 2008 he launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation dedicated to supporting research into battling the disease.
Gina had spent more than 30 years fund-raising for cancer charities before starting the auction and was one of the founding members of Suffolk Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
She said: “In doing the online auction, which was one of its kind in October 2011, I thought if I’m investing the time I wanted to invest I wanted to do something to make some serious money.
“I felt it complemented the work through Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the research drug trials.”
Every penny raised by the auction goes to cancer charities and this year those to benefit will be the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Suffolk Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital.
Gina said: “Every person is affected somewhere along the line, touched by cancer, sadly, and we can see that the stats are getting higher not lower.
“The results have been outstanding in improving cancer care and that’s why we strive to make every cent.
“Every prize that somebody gives they are going to know the end result is that money is being converted into cancer care. That’s incredible.”
In 2011 Gina recalls making thousands of phone calls begging groups, organisations and sporting heroes to donate prizes.
The success of that first year has snowballed and this year’s auction was launched, last Sunday during a lunch at the Grosvenor Hotel and by Gordon Taylor OBE at the Professional Football Association Awards, where some of the biggest names in the sport were seeking Gina out to offer their support.
However once in a lifetime experiences are not the only kind of lots needed if this year’s auction is to reach its ambitious target and organisers are asking companies and individuals to pledge anything they can.
Gina said: “We are urging people to please, please, please consider donating auction prizes, because that’s what’s going to make the money.”
Lots have already started to be revealed on the auction’s website and will continue to be unveiled bidding formally opens for two weeks in October.
Registration for updates or to become involved has already been opened.
Some of the lots pledged include tickets to Eurovision 2014, an exclusive stay at Grosvenor House Hotel and VIP access to watch the filming of Match of the Day.
Last year lots were donated by figures including Sir Alex Ferguson, José Mourinho, Andre Villas Boas, Lewis Hamilton and David Beckham and Gina said exciting items are set to be revealed.
The auction will be accompanied by a ball held at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds and sponsored by Greene King, who were the first company to get behind 2011’s success.
The £1,000,000 target has been set and Gina is confident the auction will meet it.