Beach volleyball all over again only this time with a lot more rain

It was this time of year again, the annual beach volleyball tournament. This was held at the usual place the Broadgate arena, between Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations.

This was a fundraising event where a load of different organisations including Action For Kids as well as our corporate sponsors all form teams to play beach volleyball until they have a winning team at the end of the day.

I was not particularly happy about having to get up over an hour earlier than I usually do to go to Action For Kids on the day. I usually get a lie in after working for the supermarket at midnight the night before and I also wasn’t sure that I could raise quite the same bucket loads as last year and live up to expectations but apart from all that i was looking forward to the event.

I got up and went my usual way to near the AFK headquarters but instead I went into Hornsey station to make my train journey to the Broadgate arena.  After a stop or 2 I happened to see Jo Read (Work related learning director) on the train on her way to the marks and Spencer’s nearby. she wasn’t due to be at Broadgate as soon as I was so i was  running a little late but I did get there.

My first job when I got there was to help lay out the pitch and carry some flags for the sitting volleyball.

This was proving a difficult task for us all. With my work colleague Ben and my line manager Edward we were not finding it easy, however me and Ben were left to it as Edward’s help was needed at the main volleyball game. I had to bring back my childhood-developed skills in completing jigsaw puzzles and when it was done we ended up with the London Underground sign. As Ben as a fellow aspie (person with asperger syndrome) had an obsession with trains and liked to bombard people at  work with e-mails about trains, so he was pleased when the underground sign was completed I took his photo of him in front of the giant underground sign on his phone and my phone so we could show people. As I myself thought it was a big achievement for him as he multi-tasked by doing man well (due to his Hungarian accent he pronounces manual as “man well”) and bombarding at the same time and he managed to make it both about trains and work related.

Ben surveys their handiwork

It was past 10 o’clock when we completed the task so me and Ben reported to Carolyn who was running the event to ask what we had to do next. I was hoping I could do some collecting and get some money as the weather was alright and a few people were beginning to gather round and watch the games, only it turned out the collection licences were on the minibus with Sam Holloway (work related learning manager) and the work related learning students, and were not due to arrive till about half past eleven. This meant I had a break for a bit however some valuable collection opportunities were lost.

However later on the minibus arrived and the collection licences were found.

But once I managed to start collecting it started to rain, luckily this meant that people all went under the sheltered part of the arena where the shops were. So it was ideal for me to go round everybody so I was able to capitalise on this being the nearest place that was sheltered from the rain for the passing public. The bucket started to fill up with change. By the time I made the first bucket too heavy to carry the rain had stopped and the sun had came out and as it was lunch hour more people started to come out and watch the game

Many city folks in suits kept on adding to the loot.  Handfuls of pound coins kept pouring in as I continued with my bucket constantly collecting.

There was a group of rich women who as I kept complimenting they pulled out £5 notes and kept putting them in. After more collecting someone one even put a £10 note in.

Ready to hit the crowds!

I later had a break for lunch, I then had a rest to watch the game myself, which i enjoyed as afk’s team seemed to be winning but i was told that we were yet to play the team that won last year which i think was a hedge fund company. That would make sense as they could afford better players.

All to play for

Afterwards just as I was about to start collecting again it then started to rain. Carolyn who was in charge of the event gave me a clear plastic hoodie which made me look like I was some kind of forensic scientist so I had to go round collecting looking like I was from CSI Broadgate.

All-weather collection Rich

But it did protect me from the rain and as I continued to collect it was beginning to quieten down but it did get better when the sun came out again. More pound coins and someone even put a £20 note in my bucket.

There was a couple of funny incidents which would have been good as comic sketches on the credit crunch, one of which was the banker picking up a penny in the street, another was when I went collecting and there was a banker about to get on one of those bikes for hire to the general public with the Barclay’s bank logo on them that Boris the mayor of London provides. When he said he didn’t have any money I said “So it’s that bad is it? The banks are giving out company bikes rather than company cars, I didn’t know your job had got that bad”. He laughed and a couple of £2 coins came out of his pocket and into my bucket.

As i continued things got funnier and better, there was a team playing who wore red and white stripey tops just like in the old childrens  book “Where’s Wally” so i made the joke that it was becoming more like wallyball. After about 7 something pm I was told that work was over, so Paul the finance director was taking us to a Moorgate pub nearby for drinks so all in all a good day!

A long beer after a long day


Raised Bucketloads from them all at Beach Volleyball

On Friday the 11th of June (unlike my usual Fridays where I had a nice lie in) my long weekend began after my 12 hour working day on a Thursday where I go to Action For Kids in the morning and don’t finish work till I finish my supermarket job at midnight. I was told that I as well as other people from Action For Kids where needed for this big event called beach volleyball which meant I was going to have to get up at 7 something am in order to get to somewhere between Liverpool street and Moorgate by 9:am.

This was the first time since attending last years that I was to get involved in this event.  Some of my fellow fundraisers at the charity who had been organising this product, first Carolyn then Sarah and finally Carol had all fallen pregnant coincidently or not I wonder. But I was glad not to get involved in the event till the day itself because as much as I liked beach volleyball, I certainly didn’t like the idea of spending a few months looking like I had swallowed one even if I did mean a nice few months paid leave.

On the day I arrived at about 9:00 am it was raining slightly and I ended up helping Ben (my fellow Aspie work colleague) helping him shovel and brush and sand off the signs so that people could see Action For Kids’ contact details. Sarah told me that fortunately there where people coming to shovel the sand into bags at the end of the day so we didn’t all have to shovel up a beach like last year.

I went to see Maureen to find that though I had an event staff badge somewhere along the way my actual name badge had been replaced. I was a little surprised at this but in some ways I was happy as this might of saved me from getting stalked.

After the sand job with Ben I went to find an Action For Kids t-shirt but the only one I could find was the small size so it was very fortunate that I had been going to the gym more often recently because if it had been a couple of months earlier I would have looked pregnant from getting involved in beach volleyball.

Sarah then handed me a handful of programs explaining to people what the event was about. And told me to hand them out to people so they will watch the event and also to take a charity collection tin with me. This was where my collection duty’s began.

The first man I approached was a working class seeming man in his 50’s who seemed to be a railway worker of some kind and I remember him for the fact he was the first man to put money in the box. When I explained to him what I was collecting money for he gave me some money. He seemed to think it would be little kids playing volleyball but I put him right and explained that the event was put on to raise money for a children’s charity and that the big boys and girls would be battling it out in a non professional capacity e.g. lawyers vs police.

I continued to collect and hand out leaflets outside a small shop full of people buying breakfast snacks and new papers. This was good as people had just received there change and were more then willing to put some into the money box, even the manager of the shop put some in the box.

After a while Sarah called me and Ben to help with setting up the sitting volleyball by laying out the mats and erecting the net. By then it was 11: am and after Sarah saw how full my little money box was she upgraded me to a charity collection bucket.

I went round all the posh yuppies in their nice suits with my charity collection bucket. If they asked me what the charity was I said “I’m collecting for the Action For Kids charitable trust who provide mobility equipment for disabled children who need it and your change and make a change to their life’s for the better.” This normally got people forking out the money in fact a few people put a £20 note inside my bucket.

At about 1:00pm I ate a sandwich and some crisps and drunk some water that was provided for volleyball players and Action For Kids staff for my lunch. After my lunch and having a little sleep in the sun it was about 2:00-2:30pm. I started to go round collecting again. This proved successful so much so that Sarah told me to take breaks and that I was working too hard. Maybe she had had enough of emptying my bucket for the 3rd time.

There are a few good people I remember collecting from, one of which was 2 rich women who gave me £25 and told me if I went to the bar and got them Pimms they would give the change as a donation I did this for them and it turned out to be over £15 I thanked them for this and told them to let me know when they wanted another drink.

I also went to a place where a couple of yuppies were sitting. They gave me some money as if they where paying me to go away.  A man in a really smart suit who looked old enough to be their dad came and joined them and as soon as he saw me with my bucket he said “I haven’t got any money”.

The first 2  yuppies thinking that it would scare me away said “He is our boss”  so  I said “I have got to get your e-mail so I can send you my CV as I got to come and work for you one day”. Him kind of surprised said “Why’s that” so I said “It’s because I’ve never met a boss who pays his staff so well that they can afford to give more then he can.” This soon got him to put his hand in his pocket.

There was also another occasion where I used similar humour to get someone money into the bucket and that was then there was this group which consisted of a man and 2 women where the first women put some money in and the man did when I brought the bucket round to the second women she pointed to the man and said “he’s my husband” so I said “ you are very lucky in fact probably one of the luckiest women alive”. He said “Why’s that?” so I said “Because I don’t think I have ever met a women with a husband more generous then she is.” The other women and the man burst out laughing  while the women got her hand bag open and some more change fell into the bucket.

After I filled up my last bucket I went round various people I knew in Action For Kids to let them feel how heavy it was this included Carol (my line manager) who said she couldn’t lift heavy things  in her condition as she was pregnant. And Paul (the finance director) felt the weight of the bucket and agreed that that justified my getting paid for that day.

Then when I got it back to Sarah I watched her fill a bag with the money from the bucket like she had previously done with the others and then placed all the bags into the bucket of all the money that I had collected that day this was quite heavy I could only just about lift it.

I then asked Sarah what she wanted me to do next she said “Go and have a beer with Ben.” I looked everywhere for Ben to tell him the good news about what the boss for the day had said. But unfortunately he was nowhere to be found. Maybe he had escaped at the wrong time for once. I helped Nick from I.T pack away a tent or 2 and take it up to the mini bus then Sarah told me I should get a special reward for my efforts then showed me the pub where the staff at Action For Kids were waiting for me and ready to buy me a drink and thank me for a job well done.

On the Tuesday (the next time I came into work) Sarah showed me the bucket which I helped her carry to Jack’s office where even super Nick (the personnel manager) found the bucket  heavy to lift so that made sure I was on the payroll for that day.

On the Wednesday when I wasn’t scheduled to come into work I received a voice mail from Sarah on my phone saying that I had raised over £750 that day at beach volleyball. This was a good feeling as I had thought it was about half that.

On the Thursday when I next came into work Sarah saw me on the way in and said “I know this is an office but can I give you a hug?” I said yes you can and she did so. And made a joke about the appropriateness of hugging in an office; sounding like something Carol would say to me and Ben because she always reminds us that some of our jokes in the office are not appropriate.

There was also an office Circle Time and in that circle I was presented with a certificate for the amount I had raised which Sarah had made for me. I also found an email from Mick the chief exec and Sally the founder of the charity saying well done for the amount I raised.

I had obviously raised a lot of positive attention for myself as well as money for Action For Kids.

Blogged by Richard