Silent Auction raises over £21k despite snow chaos!

AVD helped raise over £21,000 for good causes when Bovis engaged them to provide a silent auction service to their annual charity fundraiser despite travel chaos. Mark Kisby takes up the story…

Looking out the window and listening to the radio the advice was ‘don’t travel… unless you have to’ and I had to.  I was planning on travelling down to London on the 4th of December at the height of the travel chaos caused by the recent snow.   I could not ignore the possibility that I might not make it in time, or at all, and the situation needed to be managed.  To minimise the risk of letting down the client, the guests and charities I put into place back ups. I activated our local London based freelancer (James Russell) and I organised alternative equipment. Thankfully I didn’t need lots of heavy boxes of keypads as the AVD’s silent auction service uses a guest’s mobile phone and the bids are received on line so all I had to do was organise another couple of laptops. My equipment was minimised to 3 net books, to save on weight, a mini monitor and a compact data switcher. All the equipment, and over night wash bag, fitted into my rucksack! I was ready to travel.

05:30 hrs. I wake up to no new snow but sub zero temperatures. I get up and out to the train station, all trains north of Edinburgh are cancelled… nothing is running on my line, as if to put the point an avalanche of snow comes off a roof down the street. I check the buses… the first one of the day is in 15 mins  I wait. Some one else joins me and we both hope that the buses are running, the road is well gritted and looks OK. Now I need to get to Edinburgh, this bus does not go that far but it is a start and it arrives on time. I hop off at Inverkeithing and join the airport link bus. I arrive at the airport, its open but the next available flight is at 14:00 which is no good and its not guaranteed, I decide to stick to the train, if it doesn’t work out I will have time to get back for the flight. I catch the Edinburgh airport link bus to Edinburgh Waverly train station.  Its taken me 3 hours to complete a 40 min journey.

08:30hrs The trains south of Edinburgh are running and I get the first train to London that day leaving at 09:00hrs Phew! It takes 5hrs 30mins to get to Kings Cross, the whole journey is an endless white out until Peterbough when it just stops… I keep the client upto date with text messages advising of my progress.  Arriving in London it seems every thing is normal, a bit damp perhaps but basically running. A quick tube to Greenpark and I am walking upto the Hilton at 16:00hrs, amazingly my originally specified arrival time.

16:00hrs I have made it, now it’s down to business. I check in with the client and the rest of the production crew.  Set up takes no time but there is no WiFi access. A previous site survey showed Wi-Fi and we had been advised it was available but on the day it can be a problem… but not to AVD!, out pops the mobile Internet dongle and in a few mins we have a 3mb connection.

19:30hrs The auction starts… bids come in and the screen updates. It’s all working perfectly. The client is generously given more items to auction by guests, ‘can we add them in?’. Yes we can. 18 Lots rise to 21 and the bidding is initially intense but begins to slow as bidders go over their limits and drop out.  An initial tally shows a promising start to the evening. A prolonged presence on the big screen pays dividends and the prices increase dramatically. There is stiff competition for a day at the races for a group at Ascot and this finally reaches £6,500 just as the auction closes…

22:45hrs The auction is closed and we text all the winning bidders that they have won! We make a list of all the items, the final bid value and contact details of the winning bidders. Total value was in excess £21,000 and well worth the effort to get down the road.

00:00hrs All packed up and ready to leave the client is busy taking payments off guests and thanks us for the night. “See you next year” is the final comment as James and I head for the night bus back to James’s flat. James, as well as being an AV tech like me, is also my brother in law! Staying with him will help keep the costs down for us and the client which leaves more money for the good causes…

02:00hrs The donna shish kebab is supprisingly good.

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