This is an opportunity to thank you for your generosity and support for the Cudeca 2007 REM Telethon and take you behind the scenes.
8am: It was still dark as I left home and all indications were that it was going to be a cold, grey day. Was this a signal of impending doom? I privately feared that this year’s Telethon was not going to be easy. The coastal areas are suffering in the grip of a recession. Our main industry – real estate – is depressed and generally the financial atmosphere is far from good. Could we expect people to dig deep into their pockets as they had done in the past? I knew, as I approached the REM studios, that this was going to be a long and difficult day.
9am: The studio was already abuzz with less than an hour to go before I announced the lines were open. Jim Williamson and John Steele, our Telethon managers, had worked day and night collecting and processing more than 120 auction items during the previous weeks; and Neil Waller – www.marbellainfo.com – had spent weeks putting photographs on a dedicated website so the audience could see what they were buying.
Phones were already ringing frantically. A group of volunteers from Cudeca had arrived, armed with telephones and Visa machines in anticipation of receiving vast amounts of pledges.
Mary Harboe was preparing her running order to take over from me at 1pm. Her slot and guests from the Palacio Blanco Hotel were to be filmed by Channel Five for their programme ‘Building a New Life’ to be screened in January.
The countdown had begun. It was all systems go!
10am: I wished everyone luck and once seated behind the microphone we decided the first track would be the brilliantly written and produced ‘Raise the Roof for Cudeca’ sung by local diva Maite and the children of Stagecoach.
My association with Cudeca goes back to 1998 when the founder and president, Joan Hunt OBE, asked for my help in raising 10,000,000 pesetas that were urgently needed to put the roof onto the hospice in Arroyo de la Miel. I arranged a week of fundraising and a gala evening starring Max Bygraves, the late, great Lonnie Donegan and one of Cudeca’s founder members, the late Jackie Travis. The event was a huge success raising 30,000,000 pesetas! The second year took the form of a celebrity golf tournament, culminating in a gala evening with auction and celebrities such as Jasper Carrot, Robert Powell, Dennis Waterman, the late Allan Ball and John Lodge of the Moody Blues, helping us to raise more than 100,000 euros.
When I set up REM I thought we’d try a Telethon to see what we could raise for Cudeca and bingo! – the first year it was 50,000 euros and the second year more than 50,000 euros.
5:30pm: I hadn’t a clue how we were doing, but instinctively we all felt a buzz. Things were definitely going better than I had anticipated. Jim came into the live studio and handed me a sheet that read 47,500 euros! And we still had hours to go! I should never have doubted you – recession or no recession – you came up trumps. The phones never stopped ringing.
7:30pm: Time to hand over to Craig James. We had already passed the 50,000-euro mark. I knew that our Telethon was in safe hands with Craig, who himself suffers from cancer; Jack Nusbaum, who is almost a part of the REM family; and the ‘Rock Critic’. The late-night team stayed on air way past their allotted time of midnight.
As I write this, we haven’t yet reached our total, and have some superb lots to offer on air and we’re aiming to raise 70,000 euros.
So, what were the highlights of that amazing day? Well, the choirs of Aloha College and Sotogrande School; Yazz and Laura Krier with her group Babyphat; and Mel Williams also provided great live musical interludes.
I would like to thank all the businesses who dedicated auction items. Among the most valuable items was a guitar sent to us by Don Felder, a founder member of the Eagles, who wrote the global hit Hotel California (5,000 euros); dinner with Peter Stringfellow in his London club (2,750 euros); dinner in the REM boardroom cooked by Annie B and with the radio presenters as waiters (more than 1,000 euros); and hospitality boxes at Celtic Rangers’ ground (1,000 euros). We also received an anonymous gift of a cheque for 7,000 euros delivered to our studios.
Thanks also to everyone both in front and behind the scenes – especially Jim and John; Jill and Steph and the Cudeca administration team; Eric from McDonald’s for supplying hamburgers; and O’Briens for the sandwiches; MarbellaInfo for the webpage (still open www.remtelethon.com); and all the REM presenters.
A very special thank you to Michel and Steven Euesden and all the team at The Euro Weekly News for their continued support of the Telethon and Cudeca.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year. Maurice Boland