Protecting the environment with intelligence

Reflecting on the Tiger Gala, a personal account

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

Will Travers & Joanna Lumley

Last Thursday saw the culmination of months of work, events invariably incur high levels of stress in the lead up; Will everyone turn up? How will the auction go? And the big question, will we raise enough money to have made all the effort worthwhile?

It was indeed a labour of love and I am immensely proud to say, yes it was worth every moment spent in preparation, the mild hysteria during the day and the pain of putting my feet in heels for an extended period of time, we raised over £100,000 and we’re still totting up the figures!!! Once costs are accounted for the total will be split between the 3 NGO’s.

What made the evening such a success? I believe it was the collaborative dedication of all the people involved. I recall sitting in a small meeting room months ago with what was at the time just a group of like-minded people (and all strangers to me), Simon Clinton had a vision and his enthusiasm was infectious, he threw time, energy and brilliant people on board to move the project forward. The complementary nature of the three NGO’s involved led to a natural partnership and everyone got stuck in! Sourcing auction prizes, guests, venue, entertainment, wine and champers not to mention celebrities, all at minimal expense possible, is no easy task with the 3rd of March ever looming!

Then of course, there’s the food, I must confess, attending the tasting at the Mandarin Oriental stands out as a particular highlight. It was a tricky business deciding which of the exquisite five courses should be served to our 200 guests but I take pride in my thoroughness and ensured the final menu was a culinary delight.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

All the goody bags!

Another task delegated to EIA was the humble goody bag. Guests paying a hefty £300 expect a certain caliber within the tiger themed bag; clients of The Clinton Partnership generously contributed but where was the rest to come from? Two words. Cold calling. I have a deep-rooted fear of cold calling, is it just me? Perhaps it’s because I fear rejection, well no one likes to be dumped over the phone. Thankfully, after much personal procrastination the wonderful Café Direct and Lush jumped on the idea and generously donated 200 fabulous goodies, old EIA friends Iain Green and Laura Barwick did the same and my ego remained intact.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

The Thai Music Circle

And then the day itself, filling up the goody bags was executed with military position and table plans finalised. As soon as it hit 5.30 an army of people were on board to transform the room into an Asian paradise, whilst simultaneously transforming ourselves from shabby NGO staff to glamorous and elegant folk. The Thai Music Circle began to play, photographers from Hello and Ok were poised and the champagne was poured as the firsts guest arrived.

Show time.

My Asian roots led to me playing a role front of house, inspired by the idea to represent as many tiger range countries as humanly possible, it was a very novel honour to lead Buddhist monks from the Buddhapadipa temple through the tables of expecting guests to the stage to bless the tiger.

Tiger Gala. Credit Mike Daines

Virginia McKenna, Donal MacIntyre & Joanna Lumley

The celebrities had turned out, Donal MacIntyre did a fantastic job of hosting throughout the evening, alas Mr. Bailey did not make it but Joanna Lumley’s impromptu but powerful speech reminded everyone why they were there. I am in awe of the wonderful Nicholas Parsons, how he personally commanded the room full of, by this time, rather saturated guests. Extravagant auction prizes went to the highest bidder amidst plenty of cajoling from Mr. Parsons. The Malaysian drummers took people’s attention away from the food and to the stage, the fabulous Made Pujawati, captivated us with her Balinese tiger dance. Gauri’s dancers performed an exquisite Kathak dance, culminating in all artists sharing the stage, with a Chinese lion dance finale. It worked seamlessly, a shame it’s not mirrored politically.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAidBy midnight my ratio of strictly working vs. wine consumption tipped heavily towards the latter and I rested my sore feet satisfied that is was a job well done.

See The Londonist review of the night.

Something I am still in awe of is the generosity of individuals and companies despite the current age of austerity. Here are my hearty thanks to the following companies who contributed to our fantastic evening, Pangkor Laut Resort, Air Asia, Arsenal, Jacob’s Creek, Laurent-Perrier, Easter & Oriental Express, The Ritz-Carlton, Cowdray Park Polo Club, YTL Hotels, Land Rover, Twining, encounters asia, Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Thyme at Southdrop, Samara, Vintage Roots, Texture, Tiger Beer, Real Digital International, Café Direct, Tiger J’s Chocolate, theWildGarlic, Kit Digital, Chewton Glen.

Tiger Gala. Credit WildAid

Liz Bonnin & other tiger friends.

To individuals I would like to thank, Betty Yao, Zehan Verden, Ralph Dixon, Jimmy Choo, Ching-He Huang, Bill Oddie, Simon Lycett, Ronni Ancona, Alistair McGowan, Gary Hodges, Iain Green, Laura Barwick, Frances Jarvis, Joanna Lumley, Donal MacIntyre, Nicholas Parsons, Christy Symington, Laura Lian, Chris Wright, Steve Cawston, Liz Bonnin, Virginia McKenna, Rob Murray.

To our entertainers, Gauri Sharma Tripathi and her dancers, Made Pujawati, Thai Music Circle, Lim’s Martial Arts and a special thank you to the monks from the Buddhapadipa Temple, London.

Tiger gala. Credit EIA

Sophia Cheng

Membership & Fundraising Officer

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4 Responses

  1. Cally Smith says:

    Thank you so much for this fantastic event – it restores some ofmy faith that something positive can be done. Please God make it happen – let’s save the Tiger!

  2. Debbie Banks says:

    Thanks Cally! Our friends at the Clinton Partnership did a fantastic job of reminding guests about why they were there with a short but powerful film of some of the best footage of wild tigers. Poignant and compelling images of what we stand to lose if we don’t work together. As our colleagues at WildAid say, “when we all come together, we can do anything”.

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