Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sitting at home this Sunday afternoon at 13:42 approx 6 hour before I take to the stage, yet again, to host a charity gala wondering will this really be my last, will I really hang up the mic once and for all. Mind you I’ve thought that a few times over the last few years after spending almost 20 years raising money for one charity or another it’s perhaps time to bring down the curtain on my charity career for a final time? I have turned down many invitations this year to host various events but as most of you know I’ve changed the course of my life and seem to be working harder than ever leaving little or no time for charity work. I still feel selfish for turning down these offers and humbled that I’m still invited after all these years but I have to prioritise and unfortunately charity work must take second place. So again I’m thinking will this be my last? Perhaps. So I’ve been reflecting and looking back over the years remembering some of the highs and thankfully very few lows during the course of my charity work.

It all happened back in late 1999 when I received a call from Joan Hunt the founder of Cudeca she was forthright and straight to the point saying she was desperately in need of funds to pay the builder before he would start putting the roof on the hospice (the first in Spain) At the time my radio show on Onda Cero International was drawing in huge audiences and she wanted me to come up with an idea to help her raise this much needed finance and quickly!!! ‘How much do you need I asked?
Without taking a breath she replied: ‘10 million (60,000 Euro)!
10 million!’ I screamed, ‘How in the name of bejesus can I raise that?’ One must remember back in the ‘90’s the average amount of many raised at charity events would possibly be tops 500,000 PTS and her is this woman I had never met asking me to find 10 million!
You said it was urgent, when do you need this by?
A month!’ she exclaimed.

This was impossible I thought but I said I’d get back to her. So I set about planning a campaign to see if there was any possibility to get even close to that amount. I named the campaign ‘Raise The Roof for Cudeca’. I then put on my Sir Bob Gildof hat and called my good friend and genius music producer Paul Sadowski asking him to write and produce a song encumbering the title Raise The Roof For Cudeca’. This took a little convincing at the time because as always Paul was up to his eyes, he eventually agreed and said who should be able to start after Christmas (about two months away!)
'But, Paul I need it within the next 4 weeks written, recorded and pressed ready to go to market!’ I tentatively requested. Reviving him after he fainted he told me I was out of my fucking mind. ‘Impossible!’ he yelled. But four weeks later and with the stunning voice of San Pedro born and good friend Maite joined by the children from Stagecoach school this is what he produced...Amazing

I then started to plan the running of the campaign. Firstly I planed a grand Gala evening to end the 4 weeks . I persuaded the late Max Bygraves, who I casually met in a Puerto Banus restaurant, to star at the fund raising Gala which I planned to stage at Marbella’s 5 star Guadlamina hotel.

Among a host of other artists, who had offered their time for free, were Mr Lonnie Donegan and Jackie Travis.

Thankfully things were beginning to gather momentum at a pace and it seemed that the whole Costa del Sol was talking about and getting into the spirit of helping to Raise The Roof. Various radio stations also put aside any differences that they might have had as competitors by agreeing throughout the day to announce various ways that their listeners could get involved and help. I had roped in many golf clubs, tennis clubs bowels clubs to have tournaments throughout the Raise The Roof 4 week period. Restaurants and bars were also getting into the spirit and promised various fund raising events.

I then did something that I was criticized innately for; I called Joan with what some might think a very odd request, I asked her could she get me a terminally ill patient to record a radio advertisement as a promotion for the Raise the Roof campaign. Joan being Joan didn’t even question my request and within 24 hours I had what I wanted down on tape. I know it upset some of the listeners and maybe I can understand how some people listening to a dying woman making a plea for funds etc was distasteful but personally I didn’t care all I was focused on was raising as close to the 10 million as possible!

At the time of the Raise the Roof campaign my radio show was sponsored by the Club La Costa Resort. The owner Roy Peires was also a personal friend of mine, so I decided that I would go along to his headquarters to see if he might make a generous donation towards the building fund . Driving there I was trying to work out how much I would ask him for, because if I asked for too much he might say no and if I asked for too little I might be missing out on an opportunity to get more. So I settled in my mind for 1 million PTS (6,000 Euro). I know it’s a lot but CLC was doing phenomenally well and I knew Roy to be extremely generous when it came to charity.
We settled down to lunch at one of the many restaurants on the resort. As we were chatting about various things happening on the Costa etc, all I could think of was should I ask him now, no maybe wait another 5 mins Throughout lunch it was hard to concentrate on our conversation because all that was going through my mind was; ‘will or will I not, is the time right now, no wait not now?’ Time was running out as we were already on coffee and Roy started to look at his watch, so I brought up the subject of Cudeca and the challenge before me to raise the money for the roof. Roy asked casually: “How much do you want?” It’s now or never I thought; “10 MILLION!” SHIT! I thought, why did I say that? I was meant to say 1 million, now he’ll think I’m being ridicules or worse greedy! Before I could correct my stupid slip of the tongue Roy looked me straight in the eye and said:“Okay, you can have it. I’ll send you a fax in a day or two confirming, if that’s okay?” He then excused himself as he was late for a meeting and left me sitting there speechless. ‘The Man from Club La Costa said YES!’

I decided that I was going to tell no one about Roy’s phenomenal donation not even Joan Hunt as I wanted to keep people motivated to continue raising funds . I planned not to announce the 10 million donation until the end of the Gala evening.

The 4 weeks were now up and the gala evening was underway, I knew that I had achieved my goal of raising the 10 million
So how much more did the Raise the Roof campaign finally make? Part of my master plan was that we would call around all the clubs, restaurants, bars etc who were fund raising throughout the 4 weeks so that they could report their final totals, as these were handed to me i read them out (a bit like children in need)

The Gala was a total sell out. every table was taken. Lonnie Donegan brought his young son Peter along to join him on stage singing ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman.’ Jacky Travis appearance took the house down with her rendition of Hello Dolly and Max Bygraves had the crowed, that numbered over 350, singing along with Tulips From Amsterdam. All and all the entertainment was first class that night. The auction went extremely well and saw my wife Wendy modelling a stunning fur coat that was part of the auction items (See photo of Wendy modelling). As I said throughout the evening reports of great fund raising success were being telephoned in and then passed to me on stage for me to announce each amount was greeted by enthusiastic applause.
Eventually, as the spectacular evening was drawing to a close, the time had arrived for the raising of a giant cheque waiting back stage for the final amount to be written on it. I hadn’t a clue what the total was but I was hoping that it would be around 5 million. Remember I still hadn’t told anyone about the fax for 10 million from Club La Costa burning a hole in my pocket. As the giant check was hoisted slowly above the stage accompanied by Mayte and the children from Stagecoach each caring a burning candle singing Raise The Roof For Cudeca. I was astonished to see it didn’t have 5 million written on it but a grand total of 20 million pesetas in big bold letters on it. The ballroom in unison jumped to their feet yelling, cheering and applauding Id never heard anything like it the noise was deafening! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Eventually when the applause subsided and I called Joan Hunt on stage to allow one of the children to present her with a bouquet of flours and allow her to address the tear-filled room. My big moment had finally arrived for me to read the fax from CLC letting Joan and the audience know about Roy Peries’s donation of 10 million PTS and that the total NOW in fact reached 30 MILLION!(180,000 Euros). At that point the place went insane; tears flowed freely as the audience started to hug each other all joining in on the chorus of Raise The Roof For Cudeca.

This Photo of Joan shows the actual moment of her holding THE 10 million peseta fax I had just read and then handed it to her

That evening 'WE..... Raised the Roof for Cudeca'. We had done it!

A total of 30 million was raised during that unbelievable 4 weeks thanks to the people of our beautiful Costa Del Sol. Even to this day every time I think back to what happened I still believe it to have been nothing short of a miracle!

So that’s how my road to charity work began and continued over the years allowing me to raise in excess of 2 million Euros for various charities by introducing
celebratory charity golf events including John Lodge from the Moody Blues to put his name to the golf tournaments who was joined by a host of stars from UK including the likes of Jasper Carrot, Robert Powel (Jesus himself!) Dennis Waterman, Rick Wakeman and Many international sports stars including Sir Henry Cooper, Alan Ball etc I introduced The WOW Factor (similar to the UK's X Factor) again for charity and The Radio Telethon, I staged shows by bringing bands like Kool and the Gang, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, The Bootleg Beatles and Bjorn Again( Abba tribute Band ) All culminating in me being awarded the Bronze medal from The Spanish Red Cross in recognition for my charity work over the years.
So here I am about to leave for a rehearsal for tonight’s show wondering will this be the last time I put on one of my infamous stage jackets (see photo). We will just have to wait and see.

And what about the critics? What about the critics! 'They are just a sad lot of losers the same the world over who are eaten up by
jealousy so all they can they do to justify their reasoning is try to bad mouth you hoping to pull you down to their level...It never works. Forget them as I did


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