Well, to quote Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, ‘O, what a night‘. At the start of the year we booked the Royal Geographical Society’s Map Room for October 8th, so we could do something special to celebrate our 15th Anniversary. We wanted to work with a charity, one that was at the forefront in the desperate fight for the survival of elephants.
We were delighted when Save the Elephants agreed to be our partner, and more so when Saba Douglas-Hamilton offered to be our guest speaker on the night. Our proposed 120 capacity in the Map Room changed to 700 in the lecture theatre.
We contacted our old clients as a priority, offering them first call on the seats, then contacted the databases of Real Africa and Save the Elephants. The tickets sold out in 3 days. We had a waiting list of over 300 and up to 20 phone calls a day asking for tickets despite the sold-out signs.
Yesterday afternoon we arrived at the RGS at 4pm to set up with our partners on the night Kenya Airways. At 5pm Saba and the Save the Elephants team arrived, so while Saba and I chatted with the technician who was to run the audio visuals, the rest of the teams got the place ready.
With 700 people to seat we’d drafted in ten 6th form Geography students from our local school in Norwich, giving them tickets and train fares to experience the night in exchange for their assistance with seating everybody. They were helped by the children of our staff and friends, ranging in age from 11-16 and overseen by one of our charity trustees. They were all magnificent.
By 7.10pm we were ready. Saba and I walked into the theatre and I climbed to the podium to introduce her. It was a very proud moment. To be standing on the stage of the RGS Ondaatje Theatre, speaking where so many extraordinary explorers, climbers and conservation legends had been before was humbling. To be representing my staff was an honour.
Saba’s talk was superb. Fluent, funny, informative, sobering, inspiring. She spoke for over an hour and at the end received a huge ovation. I presented her with a hand-made silver elephant pendant as a token of our thanks.
We adjourned to the Map Room where our guests could meet her, get signed postcards or a photo, buy t-shirts or a silver elephant and make donations. The room was packed, the atmosphere great.
By the end of the night we had raised nearly £10,000 for Save the Elephants, given them huge profile via the journalists who attended at the invitation of the Kenyan Tourist Board and I’m sure encouraged lots of people to travel to Elephant Watch Camp, Samburu, Kenya to see the work of Save The Elephants first-hand.
Thanks to everyone who came, to Sara and the staff for all their hard-work in organising it and of course to Saba for making it a night to remember.
Now, what should we do for our 16th…?
Its not too late to support Save the Elephants:
To make a donation and get a signed Saba postcard, click here.
For information on our handcrafted silver elephants, all profits to Save the Elephants, Click here
For information about our Elephant Conservation Safaris which include a donation to Save The Elephants by Real Africa on behalf of every client, click here.
To request a Real Africa brochure, which includes Elephant Watch Camp and details of our partnership with Save The Elephants please click here.