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Fundraising without a budget? Here’s a new idea!

What if you could engage and delight your supporters – and raise funds – for just the price of a couple of links on your website?

fundraising without a budget

This month at The Online Book Company, we’re excited to announce a brand new product to help you do precisely that. Set to launch in mid February, it will enable you to raise funds simply by offering supporters the opportunity to create their very own Online Books that they can fill with their photos, videos, and memories and share.  As with other social media platforms like Facebook people will have the option of sharing with family and friends all over the world.

The Books are suitable for a whole range of purposes: supporters sponsoring or adopting an animal could create a book about them with their adoption certificate, pictures, video, thoughts and memories, while others could use them to record and remember special events such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.

For charities, there is no risk and for those coming on board with us before the end of April 2020 requires no financial outlay.  Through our platform we will provide your own fully branded microsite for you to direct supporters to.  Once on the microsite, they will be able to choose from a selection of templated book covers, or create their own.

The books can be branded to your charity, and each one will initially cost the individual £12.50 + VAT per year: £5 of which we will return to you annually as a donation.

The Books are simple to create, easy to update and share, and can also be printed. All the supporter has to do is upload their photos, memories and experiences into our simple system, and then publish their creation online.

As the perfect way to keep memories alive, these Books will be something people can continue to add to, and revisit. For those who also wish to have a physical copy, there will be the option to print the books, using our specialist print partner.

If you’d like to learn more about how these Books could help your charity, please do give us a call on 01872 226800 to make an appointment for a non-committal screen share, and we’ll be happy to show you!

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Julie PentecostFundraising without a budget? Here’s a new idea!

Festive glow: Christmas light trails around the UK

The festive period is upon us and Christmas is just a few short sleeps away, so to help get everyone in the mood, here is a selection of the Christmas light trails taking place around the country. Here’s hoping for dry starry nights, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and some wonderful nights out.

Festive glow Christmas lights

Christmas at Stourhead
While other National Trust properties have been putting on Christmas light trails for a few years, this is the first time Stourhead in Wiltshire has done so. Christmas at Stourhead sees a Tunnel of Light with over 100,000 pea-lights, Singing Trees, and glowing blossom and twinkling hedgerows leading visitors on a path towards thousands of illuminated lights on Fibre Optic Lawn. There is also a Laser Garden, and a scented Fire Garden among other attractions, and the chance to enjoy a hot drink and some marshmallows.  Father Christmas is also rumoured to be putting in an appearance.

When: To 30 December
Where: Stourhead, Stourton, Wiltshire
Link: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead/features/christmas-at-stourhead-2019

Blenheim Palace
Treetops will glisten and the Great Lake and the waterfall will shimmer and sparkle at Blenheim Palace this Christmas, while a one-mile glittering path will lead guests through the world-famous Parkland in a magical after dark experience. New for this year too are Sky-Lights, a colourful aerial light show, and The Cascade’s dynamic waterfall. There are also mesmerising and immersive ribbons of light at Vines as well as the quieter glow of flowers along Blenheim’s beautiful Snowdrop Walk.

When: To 5 January
Where: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Link: https://www.blenheimpalace.com/christmas/

Longleat Festival of Light

This winter, Longleat’s annual Festival of Light takes myths and legends from across the world as its theme. The legends on display include St George slaying the dragon, the giant Kraken engulfing a full-sized ship on the lake, the minotaur, King Midas, Medusa and Thor. There is also a life-sized recreation of a palace from the Arabian Nights and in total the festival features more than 3,000 lanterns, using 50,000 LED lights and 30,000 metres of silk.

When: To 5 January
Where: Longleat Safari Park, Warminster, Wiltshire
Link: https://www.longleat.co.uk/festival-of-light

Westonbirt Arboretum Enchanted Christmas
Westonbirt Arboretum has a new Christmas trail for this year, created by fairies who have been casting their spells over the trees to transform it into an enchanted wood full of woodland characters. There is also the Arboretum’s Christmas village to visit where visitors can create some Christmas arts and crafts, explore the market stalls and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine.

When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 29 November to 22 December
Where: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury
Link: https://www.forestryengland.uk/westonbirt/enchanted-christmas

Christmas at Kew
Christmas at Kew is now in its seventh year, and sees dynamic laser projections illuminate the Temperate House, and a dazzling arch lead to a cascade of glowing silvery shards at the Treetop Walkway. Visitors can also walk amongst immersive vines with changing ribbons of light, and wander beneath the branches illuminated with the glow of Will-o’the Wisp. Holly bushes will also sing, there will be a Tunnel of Light, and the Palm House Pond finale will see jumping jets of light dance across the water to the sound of Christmas classics.

When: To 5th January
Where: Kew Gardens, London
Link: https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-on/christmas

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Julie PentecostFestive glow: Christmas light trails around the UK

Flight Lieutenant Walker: a compelling tale of bravery from the RAF Benevolent Fund

With Remembrance Day taking place last month, we found ourselves in a thoughtful mood and, by way of remembering our lost heroes, taking another look at The RAF Benevolent Fund’s Online Book of Remembrance.

One entry in particular leaped out at us. A lovely and touching tribute to Flight Lieutenant William Louis Buchanan Walker, it is also a compelling slice of history, including as it does, an account of his experiences in the Second World War.

Fl. Lt. William Walker oldest surviving pilot from Battle of Britain

Born in 1913, Flight Lieutenant William Louis Buchanan Walker was 99 when he died, which had made him the oldest surviving pilot from the Battle of Britain.

Starting out as a brewer, Walker joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve on 2 September 1938, undergoing pilot training at RAF Kidlington, Oxford, and called up a year later on 1 September 1939, the day World War II broke out.

Posted to No. 616 Squadron RAF at RAF Leconfield in East Yorkshire as a pilot officer on probation, he flew the Supermarine Spitfire.

The tribute page takes the reader through comedic as well as plain hair-raising tales of his derring dos during the war – including the day he entered an air battle whilst still in training, only to be told later he’d gone up with his guns empty, and the time, with a bullet in his right ankle, he was forced to bail out of his Spitfire at 20,000 ft, landing in the English Channel and forced to await rescue whilst clinging to a shipwreck on the Goodwin Sands.

It’s stories like this that really bring home the realities of fighting in the First and Second World Wars, leaving us truly in awe, and so very thankful for what people like Walker did for us.

Happily Walker made it through the war safely, and went back to brewing, before turning to poetry in his retirement. One of his poems, ‘Our Wall’, was inscribed on the Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent alongside the 2,937 names of The Few in July 2010 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations.

Our Wall

Walker’s story is just one of many incredible tales told in the RAF Benevolent Fund’s book. What a wonderful way of paying tribute to some very special people, and of truly engaging supporters with the cause.

You can take a look at the book and read William Walker’s tribute page in its entirety.

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Julie PentecostFlight Lieutenant Walker: a compelling tale of bravery from the RAF Benevolent Fund

A trip down memory lane with the Queen Mary

Once the epitome of luxury transatlantic travel, today the RMS Queen Mary, in all her Art Deco splendour, is still offering guests the finest food, entertainment and accommodation as a hotel, permanently berthed at California’s Long Beach.

So what’s her link to The Online Book Company?

Recently, the authorities in Long Beach who are responsible for RMS Queen Mary decided to pay tribute to her last voyage and all the people who sailed with her, from Captain Treasure Jones, to crew, entertainers, and passengers, through one of our online books.

The Last Great Cruise of RMS Queen Mary

As well as a history of the ship – including her use as a troop ship in WW2, and how she more than once carried London buses over the ocean to their new owners in Long Beach ­­– the book captures many of the wonderful and often quite remarkable stories from her last cruise and paints a very vivid picture of what life on board that majestic ship was like for those who sailed with her.

RMS Queen Mary at sea

One story told by the ship’s librarian Alastair Beers, who was also in charge of the post office tells of the vast quantities of mail people sent from the Queen Mary on that final voyage. The ship had to take on a supply of stamps from each country she made port in, but ran out almost immediately. At Las Palmas for example, the ship took on a supply of 7,000 Brazilian stamps – and sold out in a day.

Others are more serious – the stowaway who was feared to have brought amoebic dysentery or cholera on board with her after she snuck on board at Acapulco – luckily it was no more serious than ‘traveller’s blight’, and the deckhand that went missing following an unwanted advance only to be found hiding once the ship had turned around and spent a good three hours searching for him overboard.

Others are simply touching, such as those people for whom Queen Mary was quite simply a home, like leading fireman Albert Pearce who was on her maiden voyage, spent ten years in the boiler room before a stretch on the Queen Elizabeth before coming back for another 11, and said that when her boilers finally went out, his life would go out with them.

The book itself is embedded into the official Queen Mary website and with the stories also includes some wonderful photos and Pathe-type news clips. There is even a recording from Johnny Mathis and others too who helped mark the end of her golden era of travel.

Do have a look yourself, and if you know anyone who sailed on her, or have a story of someone who did, Queen Mary would be very happy to hear them so do include them in the book.

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Julie PentecostA trip down memory lane with the Queen Mary

Cruelty Free International urges swift government action to protect animals after Brexit

Cruelty Free International works tirelessly to end animal experiments and cruelty worldwide.

With the UK due to leave the EU at the end of this month, one campaign it is currently backing, alongside 40 animal organisations, is #BetterDealForAnimals, which calls on the government to urgently incorporate recognition of animal sentience into law.

Under EU law, the UK has to abide by Article 13 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which obliges full regard to be paid to the sentience of animals when developing and implementing public policy. With Brexit however, this will be lost from UK law.

Following a petition back in March that urged the government to ensure animal sentience continued to be recognised after Brexit, it stated that it was committed to making any necessary changes required to UK law to ensure this was the case when the UK leaves the EU. However, so far it has been slow to act, and without this, after 31 October animals will no longer be legally recognised as sentient beings with no legal requirement for government to pay regard to their needs when formulating and implementing policy.

Cruelty Free International believes that it is essential that government act as soon as possible so that the country does not leave the EU without sentience being part of UK legislation. That legislation should set out the process for how all government departments will assess and report on animal sentience, and how they will handle any associated animal welfare duties in all policy areas covered.

It should also include a power to establish an Animal Welfare Advisory Commission to support government – including individual departments and public bodies – in discharging its duty to animals, providing independent and transparent advice.

Cruelty Free International is asking supporters to encourage their MPs to urge the government to act now.

It’s an important campaign, and, with no government or lottery funding, the charity relies entirely on donations to continue its work. One way it honours its supporters is with its Book of Remembrance: a tribute to those who have left it a gift in their Will.  You can view it here.

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Julie PentecostCruelty Free International urges swift government action to protect animals after Brexit

‘Loved ones’ doesn’t just mean families and friends.

‘Loved ones’ is such an all-encompassing description – friends, family and partners of course, but what about those we loved whose posters were on our walls as teenagers? The pop star pin ups of our teenage years? What happens to the love and affection we feel when they pass away? The British Liver Trust’s online Book of Memories has a new tribute page to one such pin up boy, the wonderful David Cassidy, who sadly passed away in 2017 and bravely shared his story before he passed.  

Davis Cassidy
David Cassidy by Allan Warren [Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0]

David had 10 albums with the Partridge Family and five as a solo artist and was definitely in the category of ‘poster boy’ – although he said he longed to be a rock n roller like Mick Jagger. From ‘Daydreamer’ in 1972 to Blood Brothers in the West End and his Vegas shows in the 1990’s, David continued to break hearts and fill venues with his soulful voice. In 2017 after a performance in which he was clearly struggling, David said he was living with dementia, but in an interview later that year he felt able to share the news that he had liver disease due to alcohol addiction. We are grateful to David and his family for sharing the cause of his illness and death, as many people struggle with alcohol and are afraid to speak about it as they feel they will be judged harshly. Only by being more open will we be able to make changes and support those who need it.

David’s Tribute page was set up by Camellia, who has been a fan since the 1970s. “I wanted to set up this page in Memorial of David Cassidy,” said Camellia, “as he has lots of dedicated fans who followed him here in the UK and supported him in all he did. Towards the end of David’s life he was very open about his addiction to alcohol and the effects it caused him physically and emotionally. He died way too young as many do from alcohol-related liver disease. An online memorial for fans to leave messages seemed a fitting tribute to him in recognition of his struggle. A final token of love from fans. And to highlight the amazing charity that helps all affected by this.”

British Liver Trust is very grateful to Camellia and all those who find comfort in setting up online tributes to loved ones – wherever and however they were loved.

To see David’s page and the lovely memories and comments of his fans, please go to:

https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/BritishLiverTrust/Celebrations/BookofMemories2/16

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Julie Pentecost‘Loved ones’ doesn’t just mean families and friends.

The wonderful consequences of Googling those we’ve lost

Among its many benefits, something quite wonderful about the internet is the opportunity it gives us to reconnect with people we’ve lost, either directly or indirectly.

From those early days of the likes of Friends Reunited, to today’s popular social networking sites, and of course Google, the internet has long provided us with a means not only of reconnecting, but of finding answers to the burning questions we may have about a friend, relative or acquaintance, or even someone we just know the name of, particularly when that person has passed away and is no longer on hand to answer for themselves.

In fact, with so much history and so many personal stories now online, the internet can provide great comfort to those seeking to fill in gaps in knowledge about a loved one’s life and build a better picture of them.

Increasingly too, these internet searches are bringing people to online remembrance books as people Google their relatives and discover either a book dedicated to that person, or a book they had contributed to.

Not only can these books provide longed for answers and delightful revelations, but they can also serve to connect people to others who knew and loved them, as well as to previously unknown details about their lives, as this example, a comment left in a RAF Benevolent Fund book for a soldier who died in Gallipoli, shows:

“I can’t believe how much my grandad did in his life. I just Googled his name and found this website. I just hope he is looking down on me with pride. What an amazing man he was, proud to call him my grandad.”

And reconnecting with lost loved ones in this way in some cases leads them to discovering even more invaluable information such as, in this particular case, where someone is buried:

“I have just stumbled across this page whilst trying to search for my mother’s brother Emlyn Wayne Francis who we lost touch with for over 20 years. It filled me with pride upon seeing this and I couldn’t wait to share it. I hope to visit his grave one day and thanks to this page I now know where he is resting.”

Most often though, the books provide much comfort at a difficult time, particularly when people had lost touch or been apart for a long period of time, as we see here:

“It is a real comfort for me to input my father’s name on Google and to source this tribute to him. I live in Australia so, apart from one brother and an aunt, my links to the UK have been somewhat diminished since his death. John’s death was quite sudden and very sad for me as I hadn’t seen him for five years.”

However, the emotions such discoveries can engender are also having benefits for charities.

Finding this new closeness with someone they cared about can lead people to want to do something good themselves, to follow in their loved one’s footsteps and support the same cause, to donate to a charity that they have found out once cared for them in some way, or to give to one in memory of a loved one who has died of the particular condition that charity focuses on.

This might be a one-off in-memoriam donation, or it can prompt people to go further and become a regular giver, or even to leave a legacy themselves.

This appeared in a book of remembrance for the Guide Dogs Association:

“Auntie Lily was a supporter and left a legacy to the Guide Dogs.  I have known her for 57 years and was unaware of this until she passed away. It was unbelievable how the subject never cropped up in conversation.  Being made aware that she supported Guide Dogs has made me more of an avid supporter as well.  Knowing that Auntie Lily had left a legacy encouraged me to leave a legacy also.”

There are many reasons why people take to Google in a quest for information but it’s wonderful to think that not only is the internet helping people by answering their questions and providing comfort at times of need, but also having another very positive, if unintended, consequence of bringing new support to charities.

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Julie PentecostThe wonderful consequences of Googling those we’ve lost

A Roaring Success: The Born Free Foundation

The lion, represents, courage, wisdom, dignity, justice, authority and more. However these qualities and symbolism make the lion to a few, an attractive animal to ‘hunt’.

Hence, illustrating the reasons behind the worldwide uproar (pardon the pun), when American dentist Walter Palmer, ‘hunted’ and killed Cecil the lion. The plight of the lion is however, not limited to high profile events such as this. Across the world, Lions are in many places still kept as pets, as entertainment providers in vastly unsuitable environments which fail to meet their most basic needs.

Founded in 1984 by the ‘Born Free’ actors Bill Travers MBE and Virginia McKenna OBE, and their son Will Travers OBE,  the ‘Born Free Foundation’ takes action worldwide to save lives, stop suffering and protect species in the wild.

Born Free, fight the ivory trade and sport hunting, hence helping to ensure lions like Cecil are able to live up to their symbolic prowess in the wild, born free and living free.

The book we created for The Born Free Foundation is a special place for their supporters to share and celebrate memories of loved ones, including both humans, and animals. Born Free are a fantastic organisation who we are very proud to work with, so please do consider leaving a message, remember a loved one and even leave a gift in your will to ensure they can continue protecting wild animals worldwide

This is what they had to say about us!

 ‘A huge thanks to our friends at the Online Book Company for the wonderful service we have received in getting this lovely book up and running and on our website’

Keep your eye’s peeled for the Launch of the Born Free Foundation Online Book….don’t forget to have a look at the Born Free Foundation website!

 www.bornfree.org.uk

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 Born Free Foundation Logo

The Born Free Foundation: Keep Wildlife in the Wild

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Bethany HibbsA Roaring Success: The Born Free Foundation