Seven ‘former’ upstanding members of the community did some jail time to raise more than £2,500 for Age UK Blackburn with Darwen.
The Mall Blackburn’s Soft Services Manager, Ronnie O’Keeffe, Cllr Jackie Floyd from Blackburn with Darwen Council, Katherine Wheatley, Community Hub Director at Blackburn’s Santander bank, Paul Wilding, Partner at Grays Schoolwear, Tinker Paradise from Shh! Bar, Beth Hartland from Hartland’s Beauty Salon and Blackburn Local Policing Sergeant Steve Dundon, were all cuffed and frog-marched to the cells and had to raise at least £250 before they were released.
The fun-filled morning included fancy dress, imaginary crimes and mugshots and the ‘chain gang’ certainly drew some smiles and curious looks as they made their way to the station from The Mall.
Everything, from individual JustGiving pages to sponsorship forms, was created by the team at independent local charity Age UK Blackburn with Darwen and the event, which has not been able to take place since 2019, is its biggest fundraiser of the year.
Vicky Shepherd, Chief Executive at Age UK Blackburn with Darwen, was delighted with the support from local businesses and organisations. She said: “It has been a long and difficult two years for the charity and not being able to host our largest fundraising event, especially during a time when older people needed our help more than ever before, has been hard.
“We don’t use the word vulnerable, we much prefer to say valuable, as that is what each and every one of our service users are and we promote this message using #valuablenotvulnerable on our social media platforms.
“Every penny of the money raised will go towards assisting us in our mission in helping to keep older people independent and living well, longer.”
Cllr Jackie Floyd, who is Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Older Persons Champion, took part and applauded the ongoing efforts of Age UK Blackburn with Darwen. She said: “I was particularly proud to take part in the event as the team provides exceptional services in the area and their work during Covid was exemplary.
“We have a significant older person’s population in Blackburn who are all valuable members of our wonderfully diverse community, so the services offered by Vicky and her support network of volunteers is vital.”
Blackburn Local Policing Sergeant, Steve Dundon, added: “It was great to get involved to support such a worthwhile cause and, alongside the fundraising, we made some contacts that will help our teams better understand a wide range of services that are available within our communities.”
Ronnie O’Keeffe, who took part in the Jail and Bail event, raised more than £370 of the final total. He said: “I was overwhelmed with the amount of money that was donated for my bail and I appreciate every single penny, especially in the current financial climate.
“Everyone who took part genuinely bought into the cause and it was brilliant to get back to a little bit of normality and get involved in an event.”
Loraine Jones, General Manager of The Mall Blackburn, added: “Ronnie was such a great sport and we are very proud of his efforts – it can’t have been easy being on the other side of the law for him!
“We are thrilled to be able to support Vicky and her amazing team in raising funds for the age group that was impacted the most by the pandemic.
“The money will make a real difference to people in Blackburn with Darwen, which is just wonderful.”