Going, going, going … Gone! Freemasons hold an online charity auction

The Province of South Wales held its first virtual auction with the proceeds going to the RMBI 2021 Festival.

The virtual auction, which was the brainchild of W. Bro. Dr Akram Baig, was held on Friday 9 April 2021, with W. Bro. Phil Saunders as the auctioneer. It was attended online by 60 Brethren and their families.

With over 40 lots auctioned the evening successfully raised over £8,500 for the Festival.

RMBI 2021 Festival committee member, W. Bro. Richard Thomas, passed on his thanks and the thanks of the whole committee to all those involved in arranging the event, and to those who attended and participated.

Richard described the event:

“When we started preparing the auction, seven weeks in advance, we knew we had a mammoth task ahead; finding items for auctioning, an auctioneer, a venue to hold the auction, logistics of receiving items, and so on. We also needed to publicise the event quickly.

The flyer and promotion resulted in a wide selection of items being donated from Brethren and committee members. 220 registrations were logged for the event and we even had 16 pre-auction bids.

Through the generosity of the Brethren, we had over 40 lots; a 7-night luxury holiday accommodation for up to 12 people in the Nant Ddu; a Taster Menu voucher for two at Heaneys; WRU Rugby tickets to watch Wales play; a Champagne Ballon flight over Bristol; an eye specialist consultation; a professional 10-minute fireworks display, to name just a few.

None of us had any experience in holding a virtual auction before and so we needed to rehearse. A lot! Bro. Amir Baig generously provided his conference room at the Beech Tree Restaurant, for both the rehearsals and the auction. He also stored the auction lots as they arrived.

We were extremely fortunate to secure the services of professional auctioneer W. Bro. Phil Saunders. With his natural combination of funny jokes and wicked sense of humour, Phil was the perfect auctioneer, ensuring the auction ran smoothly and making sure that the online audience had a lot of fun.

We are also indebted to the Provincial Deputy Grand Registrar, W. Bro. Robert Free, for recording every sale; to Paul Bunyan, Derryl Rees and Howard Jayne for assisting Phil Saunders during the auction; Karl Frowen for hosting the event on Zoom using his laptop.

Dr. Akram Baig opened the auction and invited the Chair of the 2021 Festival committee, R. W. Bro. Sir Paul Williams to say a few words of welcome. (This included informing the brethren of the sad passing of HRH Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh). The Provincial Grand Master, R. W. Bro. Gareth Jones OBE, added his words of welcome to those attending the auction. He also asked those present to raise a glass at 9 pm, in line with UGLE instruction, to the memory of HRH Prince Phillip.”

Akram Baig said to the online Zoom audience at the end of the evening: “What a fabulous evening, a great night has been had by all, with a lot of money raised for the Festival, exceeding the committee’s expectations. I want to extend a thank you to everyone who has helped in some way to make this such a success, and to W.Bro. Phil Saunders whose energy, commitment and powers of persuasion have been an inspiration”.

One of the participants, Bro. Mark Khan, said: “What an incredible evening. I got a bit over-excited and the mix of an iPad, camping, red wine and the ‘Online Auction’ was not a good combination. It led to me winning over four lots! All down to the hypnotic auctioneering skills of Phil Saunders; the complete natural.”

A further online auction is planned for Friday 4 June 2021.


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