- Mark Topley
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Dentistry Show – a fast growing dental trade and training event held at the NEC in Birmingham.
It was my third trip to the show, and it has been fantastic to see how the event has grown in such a short space of time.
This particular show came at a very interesting point in time for us as it’s now just under 2 months since we launched our urgent appeal, and I was keen to get a feel from the trade and the profession as to the support that Bridge2Aid has within both groups.
My overwhelming sense coming away from the Dentistry Show is the huge groundswell of support that there is for Bridge2Aid.
I have said it before, but I really have run out of superlatives to describe the response we have had from the people who have come into contact with our urgent appeal. As the Dentistry Show started, we had raised over 80% of the target, comprised of donations from people we know well, and people we’ve never met, from people who have volunteered many, many times for us to people who have never engaged practically with Bridge2Aid at all - the support has been enormous.
During the event we reached 90% of our target, all thanks to the efforts of a number of companies and individuals. It’s a fantastic achievement and a huge encouragement to the whole B2A family. We’re really confident that we’ll raise the full £50,000 in the near future.
The Show was also a good chance to catch up with our corporate friends – A-Dec, FMC, Practice Plan, Henry Schein Dental, Cohen Cramer and Dentsply. Corporate Friends are our most significant trade supporters – they are companies who have supported us consistently to a significant degree over a long period of time, and the Show is always a good opportunity to thank them personally and to see if there is anything that we can learn.
We also held our #seaofpinkday on Saturday. This idea was conceived as a means of creating profile for Bridge2Aid and also to give companies an opportunity to support us very visibly and very practically during the show. I was so pleased that so many companies decided to get involved by wearing Bridge2Aid shirts. Below are just a couple of pictures of some of the many companies who took part and it was wonderful to walk around the event on Saturday, myself also dressed in a very fetching pink polo shirt, and see so many people making their support visible during the event.
The highlight of the weekend for me had to be the Amarillo video shoot by Practice Plan. The idea was simple – have a lot of fun and goof off in aid of Bridge2Aid! Practice Plan (our wonderful corporate friends) decided to shoot a video in the style of Peter Kay’s ‘Is this the way to Amarillo?’ and charge dental companies to take part in the video which will be very generously donated to Bridge2Aid. The result was hilarious and was a lot of fun to take part in. Watch this space for the final version coming very soon.
Finally, thanks to the show’s sponsors, we ran a competition to give away a Gold Unity Partnership worth £3,000. The lucky winners were Smiles Dental in Shaftesbury who will join our other Partners and gain a variety of benefits, as well as directly sponsoring the training of a health worker in emergency dentistry.
Overall a fantastic couple of days in Birmingham – interspersed with the obligatory Bridge2Aid curry night - and I have come away hugely encouraged once again by the support that we have within the profession and the trade in the UK.
Over the course of my time in Birmingham I was able to ask people why they thought there was such a great amount of support around for Bridge2Aid at the moment – particularly with regards to the urgent appeal. Their answers are very interesting:
Impact – people really see that the work that Bridge2Aid does makes a tangible difference to people who are in genuine need.
Sustainable – the work that we do isn’t just in and out, treating short term problems, it really helps people to develop their quality of life for the long term.
Get involved – people love the fact that they can get involved practically with Bridge2Aid, and not just that, but that being a Bridge2Aid volunteer on one of our DVPs is a fabulous experience, and people make lifelong friends through it.
Real problem – people can see very clearly that the problem we are dealing with of people suffering from untreated dental pain is something worthwhile, something that leaves them in no doubt that the work that we do together is meaningful.
They see where their money goes – people were really encouraged by our communications about how we spend our money. We clearly spend money on things that make a real difference in peoples’ lives and deliver benefits to our beneficiaries – a key part of any charity’s strategy.
All in all a fantastic event – many thanks to organisers CloserStillMedia for having us as a principal charity partner again this year.