This summer, on a day between the 30th of June and the 3rd of July when the weather conditions are right, two boats of six swimmers will be racing each other across the English Channel to France in aid of The Light Fund charity. All the participants will be from the licensing industry, trying to be first to make it from Dover to the French coast – a 21-mile journey that could end up closer to 40 miles if you include tidal shifts.
The Light Fund has attracted a large and growing number of sponsors and donations for its forthcoming English Channel Relay fundraiser, and it can now proudly announce the Master Sponsors – the two groups that have taken on the biggest sponsorships available for this year’s Light Fund challenge.
Playmates Toys and Wow! Stuff have both guaranteed five-figure sums to support the pivotal role of the two pilot boats transporting, supporting and protecting both six-member swim teams during the relay.
A Light Fund spokesperson says: “For over 55 years, Playmates Toys’ commitment to quality and excellence in the design, development and marketing of character-rich toys has inspired imaginative play for generations of children worldwide. Wow! Stuff is a name globally synonymous with toy innovation for licensed brands. The names of both Master Sponsors will now appear on the two vessels: Pilot Boat Optimist and Pilot Boat High Hopes.
“The Playmates Toys and Wow! Stuff sponsorships won’t just support the hire of the boats, they will pay for the pilot, crew, observers, Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CS&PF) registrations and access to the internal marina at Dover as well as pick-up collections, car parking and – of course – a licence for swimming across the busiest shipping channel in the world – with around 1,000 vessels per day in transit.
“Both sponsorships also include a more-than-generous donation towards this year’s Light Fund Challenge target of £250,000, which will be shared by principal beneficiary the RNLI and a number of other organisations and projects supported by the charity that is inspired, and run, by the licensing industry.”
Playmates Toys and Wow! Stuff are in distinguished company. Some 70 other businesses working in the licensing industry have supported the swimmers with sponsorships varying from hundreds to thousands of pounds – and covering everything from drinks bottles to deep sea water training, towels to film and drone technology.
The money raised and pledged so far has taken the two teams almost two-thirds of the way to their target of £250,000 – which will be a record for any single Light Fund challenge.
The generosity of all the companies backing the cross-Channel swim will be saluted both on and beyond the day of the swim itself. Every sponsor will be namechecked in a special thank-you video that will be among the highlights of this year’s Licensing Awards ceremony.
With only four months until the English Channel Relay takes place, there are still many sponsorship opportunities available. Interested parties can find out more about corporate sponsorship options here. Individuals are very welcome to donate via the event’s Just Giving page, where you can also follow the teams preparing for the big day. There’s also an Instagram feed and a Facebook page containing team photos and updates.
On the day itself a limited-access live feed is also planned in tandem with GPS trackers on each pilot boat: watch out for announcements on how to follow the challenge as it happens.
Michael Chan of Playmates Toys says: “We jumped at the opportunity to give our backing to this extraordinary challenge and play a role in bringing essential support to these two brave and committed teams. It’s a real honour to be a Master Sponsor for the licensing industry’s biggest charity challenge of the year.”
Richard North, CEO, Wow! Stuff, says: “When we heard that the licensing industry was supplying two teams to do a relay swim across the Channel we thought two things: ‘Are they mad?’ and ‘How can we help?’ The Light Fund helped the toy industry initiative ToyAid, which Joel Silverman and I set up during the height of the pandemic. This is Wow! Stuff’s thanks for that involvement and our commitment to be with the mad team of Light Fund swimmers every step – or stroke – of the way.”
As Stephen Gould, who will be captaining one of the two teams, says: “Without the dozens of sponsors and hundreds of smaller donations from so many people in the licensing industry this wouldn’t be happening. If you’ve backed us already, our sincere and grateful thanks. If you haven’t as yet, there are many more opportunities to support our teams and the many very worthwhile causes backed by the licensing industry’s very own charity.”
The Light (Licensing Industry Giving Help Together) Fund was born when a group of like-minded people from the UK licensing industry came up with the idea to form a committee to help those less fortunate than themselves. The Light Fund is a registered charity, which raises monies to fund worthwhile charity projects that help children, women and men. Since its inception, back in 2004, The Light Fund has raised over £1.7 million and funded hundreds of different charity projects.