Left to right: Shine CEO Kate Steele, Benny Bear and Helen Jones of Larkfleet at the start of the fundraising campaign.
The virtual races, organised by Peterborough-based charity Shine, have proved extremely popular.
Larkfleet Homes and sister company Allison Homes are sponsoring Shine’s Benny Bear New Year Balloon Race. Benny Bear is the Shine ‘mascot’, a character who has hydrocephalus and works with children to raise awareness of the condition and its impact. Now, with just a few days left before the start of the race, Larkfleet and Shine are making a last appeal for people to get involved by buying a balloon and pushing the fundraising figure even higher.
A total of 2,649 companies and individuals are in the race so far and have brought 5,130 virtual balloons! This means £140,355 will go to Shine to help it continue its work – and with the scope for more yet to come.
Shine has been running fund-raising balloon races for about 40 years but moved them into the online world in 2009 because of concern about the environmental impact of balloons littering the countryside. People can buy a ‘virtual balloon’ which can then be decorated, tracked and even have its journey influenced on social media!
The Shine computer takes account of real-world weather conditions and factors such as the amount of gas in each balloon as it continuously calculates the position of each race entrant following the online ‘launch’. The winning balloon is the one that travels furthest on the virtual map.
Asif Shaheed of Shine said: “The sponsorship from Larkfleet provides essential funding which allows Shine’s team to contact companies and individuals across the country and encourage them to buy a balloon in the race. We are absolutely delighted with the figures and look forward to 3 January when we will ‘launch’ the balloons from Larkfleet’s headquarters in Bourne.”
Helen Jones, director of marketing at Larkfleet, said: “We are delighted to sponsor The Benny Bear New Year Race as part of our programme of support for local communities and charities.
“Shine is an amazing charity and the balloon race is a fun way to raise money for a serious and worthwhile cause. There is still time for people to get involved before the balloons are launched and to buy a balloon here.”