Tonic volunteer Matt Downton writes about his fundraising and involvement with Tonic, his upcoming big birthday, and potentially sending you on holiday.
Terry Hall, Matt Downton and Saffiyah Khan (from left to right) at Coventry Cathedral before The Specials gig
I first met Tonic in the foyer at the Troxy in London at The Specials gig in 2016. I enjoy looking for good causes to support, but only where I can be confident that the funds being raised will be used to directly help and provide support to the people who need it. For me, it is important to know that there aren’t layers and layers of superfluous costs taking chunks out of every £1 raised.
Since that first meeting where I picked up various pieces of the obligatory Tonic merch – it worked, I am still involved, although the sweets seem to have stopped – I have been fortunate to help out in a number of roles at Tonic.
In 2017, I was able to support the 100 Club gigs in London, and then in 2018 I organised a team to run the Brighton Half Marathon. The gigs were great fun and a good introduction to Tonic life and Team Tonic, and the half marathon… well, that was cold!
2019 was a very busy year with Tonic and I managed to get involved in lots of different events. I shook a lot of buckets, folded leaflets, and set up Tonic tables around the country at The Specials gigs (great fun of course, and for a huge fan… nothing better). I tried to keep the Tonic banner from being left behind (failed… twice!), and bought every rain poncho in Coventry Poundland before giving them away for a donation when the rain came at The Specials gig at Coventry Cathedral – word got round and we had a queue – and then it only rained for about 5 minutes! A brilliant gig at a fantastic venue.
The whole year was very rewarding and it was great to be involved and meet lots of interesting people, chatting to them about all kinds of things. No Tonic blog would be complete without a mention for Ma and Pa Langan, who also travelled many miles with the merch, the banner and the buckets! They work so hard to make sure Tonic looks good at the events they are attending and, just as importantly, ensure we are all kept well fed!
At the end of 2019, Steph and I arranged for the Tonic Ska Choir to sing a few songs in the foyer of the office I am based in. A full coach arrived and the choir did a set inside and a set outside of the building – they sounded really good with lots of people listening. In the early evening, the choir moved on to do some busking on Berwick Street, where they performed a third and even longer set, with many people passing by and those drinking outside the Soho bars joining in. It was great fun to organise and there are plenty of videos online if you want to see for yourself. I think the choir probably sung at least 30 songs that day! Hopefully, this is something we will do again soon.
Unfortunately, 2020 meant the buckets were kept in the garage and remained empty. Whilst I was at many (ok, I know… lots!) of The Specials gigs, I was able to get a copy of their Record Store Day single signed by the band. It took a while to get all of the signatures, so the vinyl was fairly well travelled by the time it was completed. As fundraising opportunities were starting to look a bit bleak, I thought it would be a good time to shake the eBay bucket instead and see what would happen. I was offered £110 for the vinyl at The Specials’ gig in Southend by a record collector who saw me with it, and at that point it only had three signatures, but even then, I felt it was worth a bit more. By some good fortune, likely helped by everyone being at home, the auction caught the eye of three determined bidders who kept outbidding each other all the way up to a huge £998. I am very grateful to the winner for their generous involvement.
2021 has started a bit like 2020 in terms of fundraising, with the buckets still gathering dust in the garage. So, what to do? The 50th birthday raffle of course!
DO YOU WANT TO WIN A HOLIDAY???
My big 50 was on 28th March, and the day before I could meet 6 people! Nice timing and so, as it has been for a lot of my friends, it has been a less lively 50th than it could have been!
Instead of a party – although I might do something another time – I thought it would be good to try and raise £5k for Tonic between now and 21st June when, fingers crossed, we can get cracking and go out again. Tonic, like all charities, has seen their fundraising opportunities severely hit, so this money would definitely be a great help to them. The fundraiser is a raffle with a top prize of a £350 holiday voucher, with plenty more prizes to win. The price per ticket is £10, which gives you one entry to the raffle. As a small note of gratitude for the last 12 months, all NHS workers, teachers and frontline workers will receive two entries for every £10 ticket purchased. If this is you, then please can you note this in the comments, otherwise only one entry will be recorded.
Thanks for everything you have done. xx
You can enter the raffle here:
Prize list 1. £350 holiday voucher – www.hotelgift.com 2. Tea for 2 at The Ritz 3. £100 dinner/drinks tab 4. £50 dinner/drinks tab 5. Bottle of Taittinger 6. Bottle of Taittinger 7. Bottle of Taittinger 8. Bottle of Taittinger 9. 2 x T-shirts from up-and-coming urbanwear brand LTP-LDN (Instagram: @ltp.ldn) 10. £30 cinema voucher Terms and Conditions £10 for one entry. NHS workers, teachers and frontline workers will receive two entries per £10. Please can you note if you are in this category in the comments, otherwise only one entry will be recorded. 100% of any money raised through the raffle will go directly to support Tonic Music for Mental Health (less any JustGiving fees). I am supplying prizes 1 to 10. Any donations of further prizes would be greatly appreciated, and would be listed from number 11 onwards. The auction will run from 6th March 2021 to 1pm on 20th June 2021. The draw for the prizes will be made on 20th June 2021 at 8pm on Facebook Live. It will be recorded. If you purchase a ticket, but do not provide your contact details, I cannot include you in the raffle and your donation will not be refunded. If you enter after the deadline, I cannot include you in the raffle and your donation will not be refunded. If you pay in another currency, I will allocate tickets according to the amount we receive in GBP.
I can only allocate one ticket for each multiple of £10 (GBP10) received. Donating through JustGiving is totally secure and your details are safe. Your money goes directly to the charity. Gift Aid will not be claimed for this event.
Tonic is a registered charity in England & Wales (1189913).