The charitable side of ... Wimbledon

Helen Barrett

The tennis fest has served up £500,000 for its official charities in the past decade. And Sir Cliff can always be relied upon to join in.

Come rain or shine, every year Wimbledon spectators scoff 28,000 kilos of strawberries with 7,000 litres of cream, washed down with 150,000 glasses of Pimms and 17,000 glasses of champagne. So with 35,000 well-fed captive punters milling around every day, the championships are fertile ground for charity fundraising.

Wimbledon's three official charities - Sparks, Queen Elizabeth's Foundation and the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust - and several local charities will benefit from a ticket 'recycling' scheme. Unwanted or half-used tickets are posted in boxes around the grounds and re-sold for £5, with charities collecting the spoils. The scheme has raised more than £500,000 in the past 10 years.

"We got £22,000 last year," said Paul Connew, head of communications at Sparks. "And last year, Rafael Nadal donated his doubles prize money to us." Luckily for the charity, it was Nadal, rather than one of his female peers, who chose to part with his winnings - as the Fawcett Society's campaign points out, pay parity hasn't reached Wimbledon.

When it's Wimbledon fortnight, Cliff Richard is never far away. The Cliff Richard Tennis Foundation - a charity that provides schools with tennis coaching and equipment - is holding a glittering fundraising auction for the tennis players in town on 3 July.

As if all that isn't enough, animal welfare charities will approve of the tournament's humane approach to south London's pigeons. Hector, a trained hawk, flies around the grounds for an hour every morning of Wimbledon fortnight to scare off the hapless feathered rats so spectators can rest assured that it's only cream they get with their strawberries.

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