Supporters and trustees of Backup – The Technical Entertainment Charity – gathered in London on Monday evening to help raise the profile of the charity’s new name and logo in entertainment industry. Around 80 guests attended the event, which included live entertainment from Jay Johnson.
Backup exists to provide financial support to technical professionals working in live events, theatre, TV and film, helping them to get back on their feet when their lives are disrupted by illness or injury to themselves or to family members. Previously known as Behind The Scenes UK, the charity changed its name to Backup in 2016.
Backup’s chairman, John Simpson, welcomed guests to The Hospital Club in London’s Covent Garden, which generously sponsored the event. He reiterated the purpose of the charity by highlighting some of its achievements to date. “We have helped a number of technicians and their families when they have suffered falls from sets and studio rigging, been involved in horrific vehicle accidents, suffered rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, mental breakdowns and other circumstances that have prevented them from earning a living for a period of time.”
Among those being helped by the charity is Mark Pritchard, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma while touring with Level 42, and has just undergone a fourth round of chemotherapy. John Simpson read a message from him, in which he thanked the charity, saying: “We are amazed at the generosity of our industry in times of trouble.”
Simpson said: “Backup will help any entertainment technician who for at least five years has worked sound, stage, rigging, lighting, props and so on – in any entertainment performance-related industry events, live or recorded theatre, television and film. This covers not only the self-employed, but also anyone working in manufacturing and a whole range of technical services. We will work closely with other charities where their remit is more focused, but we are anxious that any technician or their family members who fall on hard times will receive support from us.”
Backup trustee Lee Dennison drew attention to the popular fundraising events including the Golf Day and KartFest. The Golf Day, which raised over £7,000 in 2016, will this year take place on Wednesday 12 April at The Drift Golf Club, East Horsley, Surrey, while the 2017 KartFest is set for Thursday 29 June at Daytona Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey.
Lee also thanked DiGiCo – whose fourth consecutive quiz night raised a record £12,500 for the charity in September 2016 – and outlined plans for future events: “We have some great fundraising initiatives ahead, including a cross-channel swim relay by a team from Crewsaders – updates on which will follow on the Backup website. By getting the industry involved now with its own staff activities, whether internal, across their own disciplines or with their clients, we can grow the Backup brand and fundraising ideas for all of our industry to get involved.”
Other Backup trustees present at the event included Tom King from the Roundhouse, Alan ‘AJ’ Jacobi of Unusual Rigging, Piers Shepperd from Wonder Works, sound designer Bobby Aitken and television lighting designer Bernie Davis.