Branches Melksham Calne & Chippenham News
Local generosity helps Canal Trust raise over £3,000 at Charity Auction
Thursday, 02 April 2015 06:35

The second MCC Charity Auction, held on 26th March, and it was a great success in so many ways. The event organised by Jeff & Lynda Daws who set a target of getting 80 Lots. A target which the rest of the team thought might be a challenging but the opposite was true and we ended up with 87 Lots on the night. The generosity of people and companies was simply amazing, including our Patron, who donated a Highgrove Champagne Tea package. Success number 1

The next challenge was to fill the room with eager punters. At the first auction, 3 years ago, we had 50 people attend but this time we had nearly 100. Val Melville had worked tirelessly on the PR front and produced articles which appeared in all the major Wiltshire newspapers, waterway magazines. All this effort culminated in our Chairman, Derek Flexer, being interviewed on BBC Wiltshire Radio, which as you will see later was a real bonus. Success number 2

Finally, Jeff had another target for us to achieve. Jeff wanted to raise £3,000 which was £1000 more than our first auction total. On the night we raised £3154. There were three specialist items that did not reach their reserve and they will be auctioned at the Chippenham Auction Rooms in the near future. So with a bit of luck we may get near the £3,500 mark. Success number 3

What of Derek’s interview? One of the star Lots was John Laverick’s offer for 4 people to experience a chance to steer and fire the engine of his steam launch. Derek Flexer highlighted this Lot during his interview with the BBC. This was listened to be a lady driving back to Swindon from London who immediately contacted us a put in a bid for this Lot. She wanted it as a birthday present for her husband who is a steam enthusiast. She was willing to pay a lot of money to get this experience which she won with a tremendous bid of £400. It pay to advertise! Success number 4

Clearly, many hours hard work were put in by Jeff’s team to achieve these successes but they were sustained in their efforts by the support that came from people outside of the Trust. So some thanks are due. First to the Angel Hotel, who let us use their facilities free of charge and set everything up on the night. Then there was our auctioneer, Gordon Brockman, who skilfully and with a lot of humour encouraged people to part with their money. He is a real star. Our thanks to him and Chippenham Auction Rooms for their continued support and also to Strakers who sponsored the printing of our catalogue. There was also a team of backroom boys & girls who produce poster and flyers, then distributed them around the area and a host of other tasks that made the evening run smoothly. Thank you all.

Finally a great big thank you to all those who tuned up on the night and made the evening the undoubted success it was and a special thanks to Jeff & Lynda for volunteering to lead this event. Well done everyone. 

Malcolm Hitchinson

WBCT/MCC Events Committee Chair


The Press release 

Thanks to the generosity of local businesses and individuals, local canal restoration charity, the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, raised a total of over £3,000 at their recent auction held at The Angel Hotel in Chippenham.

The event was held to raise funds to support the promotion and restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal, particularly as local branch, the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne Branch, has recently stepped up its restoration efforts. As well restoring a collapsed 200 year old culvert, volunteers have started work on the immense task of rebuilding the first of the three locks at Pewsham near Chippenham.

Jeff Daws, auction organiser said: “We were amazed at how generous people were both by donating brilliant items and experiences, and also by bidding for them on the night – either in person, or via commission bids. We would like to thank everyone: the donors, the bidders, the Angel Hotel, and Strakers Estate Agents.”

“Gordon Brockman from Chippenham Auction Rooms was our brilliant auctioneer. He worked incredibly hard during the evening; he had over 80 lots to sell, and had to persuade buyers to part with their hard-earned cash. He did this with humour and professionalism, entertaining an audience of about 100, most of whom went home very pleased to have secured a bargain.” Thanks to everyone’s fantastic support, the evening exceeded all our expectations. All money raised will be used locally to help restore and promote the Wilts & Berks Canal.”

2014-09-07 Melksham_River_Festival_8118One star item of the night was the exciting opportunity to have a hands-on experience on-board the steam launch Scathtan. Scathtan is a genuine coal-fired steam launch, powered by a miniature steam engine of the type used on Titanic. Her owner, John Laverick, Vice President of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, donated this as a unique opportunity, and he was delighted that Scathtan had helped to raise such a fantastic amount for this exciting, community restoration project. Despite the link with Titanic, he assured the winning bidders that an iceberg-free voyage would be guaranteed!

HRH onboardlogo2_croppedTheir Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall donated a Highgrove Garden Tour and Champagne Tea for two people. The lucky winning bidders were Jack and Gail Richmond, who said “We are very pleased to have supported the work of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust by successfully bidding for a visit to Highgrove House gardens with a champagne tea - we hope the plants will talk to us on the day!”

HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, is patron of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, and has previously supported the Trust by opening the restored Double Bridge, naming the Trust’s trip boat Dragonfly, and turning the first sod for the new Melksham Link, which is currently awaiting planning permission.

Malcolm Hitchinson (Chair of MCC Branch Events Committee) said: “We were thrilled to be given this splendid item for our auction, and are sure that the winning bidders will have a wonderful experience at Highgrove. John Laverick has also been a tremendous advocate and ambassador for the Trust for many, many years, and we would like to thank him for donating his time and sharing his beautiful heritage steam vessel Scathtan.”

Other very popular lots were: tickets for the Chippenham Folk Festival, golf at the Bowood Course (donated by Lord Lansdowne), and a tour of the Royal Navy Historic Flight Hangar at Yeovilton. This is not normally open to the public, and generated an enthusiastic bidding war by several auction-goers keen to get a close view of the historic Swordfish, Sea Fury, Sea Hawk and Chipmunk.

The Melksham, Chippenham & Calne Branch of the Canal Trust has recently stepped up its restoration efforts. As well as restoring a collapsed 200 year old culvert, volunteers have started work on the immense task of rebuilding the first of the three locks at Pewsham near Chippenham. 

Members of the public are warmly invited to join the MCC Branch on their annual Sponsored Walk to Lacock at 10:00am on Sunday May 10th, when members will be on hand to explain plans and progress, especially at Pewsham Locks.