A Winter Ball, filled with magicians and dancers, as well as a competition to design a light… and all in the name of a good cause

Martin Jepson

It was by chance that I got involved with Sparks, the children’s medical research charity, back in 2005. I joined a property company called Howard Holdings which agreed to sponsor the Sparks Rugby Celebrity Golf Classic. As a fan of golf it proved to be a great week, but more importantly, we raised a large sum of money for a worthy cause. Shortly afterwards my chief executive asked if I wanted to remain in touch with the charity and the rest is history.

I was invited to attend a medical visit to see first hand the medical research projects the charity funds. I met some of the families that were involved in the research as well as some of the clinicians. I began to understand what a huge difference the fundrainsing makes and was shocked at how little funding is available for children’s medical research. Without the money raised by supporters the research would simply never happen. It struck a chord and I became committed to supporting the charity any way I could.

A decade ago, I started assisting with golf and events and have now been a trustee for the past three years. I get a huge amount from being on the board and, as a trustee, to see the inner workings of the charity and the research we fund is a great privilege.

It is staggering to see the number of research projects that apply to Sparks for funding and the quality of that research. If you look at the money that Sparks raises, you realise there just isn’t enough funding out there for medical research. That’s when you really start to understand the value in working hard to help raise the money needed.

It is staggering to see the number of research projects that apply to Sparks for funding and the quality of that research

In addition to the many sporting events throughout the year, a key focus of the year is the Winter Ball. I’ve been on the committee for a few years and I’m in a very fortunate position to be able to use my contacts to sell as many tables as possible for the event. It is the charity’s biggest single fundraising event every year, raising in the region of £300,000.

We focus on making it an entertaining evening, meaning people come to the Winter Ball because they know they are going to have a fantastic time. There will be magicians, dancers, a popstar to perform and a chance to enjoy being able to celebrate the end of the year and support Sparks at the same time. Not to mention it’s a good opportunity to entertain clients.

This year there will be an additional element, where the winner of the Design a Light competition will be announced. One of Sparks long term supporters is lighting manufacturer FUTURE Designs, a business that conincidentlally is also 25 years old, and we have partnered to launch the compeition which will raise further funds for Sparks. The idea is to come up with a concept for light that will appeal to a child, perhaps a bedside light or an installation in a hospital ward. The entire fee to enter the competition will go to the Sparks charity and FUTURE Designs will match your payment, doubling the amount raised – that alone should give you a good reason to partake.

To enter the competition click here: http://www.sparks.org.uk/event/competition-design-a-light-for-sparks/ 

As one of the judges, along with Building editor Sarah Richardson, I am really looking forward to seeing all the entries.

I would urge you all to please get involved, it really is a fantastic charity.

If you are interested in the Winter Ball, please contact info@sparks.org.uk for an initial discussion. We would love to hear from anyone who feels they’re well placed to add great value in any way to the charity.

Martin Jepson is the president and chief operating officer for Brookfield Properties. He has been a supporter of Sparks, the children’s medical research charity for over 10 years, and has been a trustee for three years