Fiennes BHF funds baulked by postal strike

Dominic Wood

The British Heart Foundation is blaming a string of "irritations", including the postal strikes, for stunting the total funds it expects to raise from the seven marathons run by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his doctor Mike Stroud last week.

Phil Chambers, the foundation's head of major donors, said the charity has set a tentative target of around £100,000. But he said that if it had not had to contend with the postal strikes, the short notice of the event, and strict PR control by the event's sponsors, it could have raised "well over £1m".

Fiennes had originally planned to just go out and run the event, but a heart attack and double heart-bypass in June prompted him to bring the charity on board in September. This gave the foundation just three weeks to work on a plan, so it was limited to attracting postal and online donations.

It duly posted sponsorship forms to 9,000 high-level donors on 20 October, but this strategy was foiled by the wildcat postal strikes. Chambers said: "We now have no idea what to expect because we've had no response yet."

Further inconvenience came from the PR control exerted over the event by sponsors, Land Rover, British Airways and The Times. Exclusive deals meant the Foundation was precluded from talking about the event until it was over.

Chambers said that despite the hiccups, BHF hoped to work with Fiennes again next year.

- The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad said it may lose 20 per cent of its total 2003 income because of the postal strikes.

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