As September drew to a close, and the weather got…hotter than it had been all summer, the Bat Helpline office at the Bat Conservation Trust licked their ice lollies and looked ahead to the end of October. Halloween being inextricably linked with bats already; it serves as an excellent opportunity to challenge the myths that persist about this charming mammal. But with all the spooky inspiration and ‘bat tat’ hitting the shops, it’s also a great time to throw a party in aid of bats. The fundraising team planned their Halloween Party Pack, and some staff took inspiration, volunteering to take up the challenge in their own time. The plotting began...
As we embarked with a careful mix of planning and optimism, and the sound advice of the party pack to guide us, it was clear that the first task was to find a venue. Helpline Officer David scoured the city for pubs, clubs and bars which a) didn’t charge for room hire and b) could be convinced to keep the bar take target low, to leave our guests with more money for the raffle, creepy cakes and bat badges (beautifully made by Anney Youngman, Scottish Bat Officer). With the date confirmed for Halloween itself, and Seasonal helpline Officer Jess established as ‘King of Decorating’ (n.b. Jess has no actual monarchic powers, she just likes to think she does), our next task was to get the word out.
Fantastic BCT pumpkin by Crystal Schintz
Despite being a fairly sociable bunch at BCT, after inviting all our friends it became clear we would need to advertise further afield if we were going to fill out the venue and put on the sort of party UK bats rightly deserve. As a result, we sent out an invitation to all BCT followers on facebook, as well as other wildlife groups we thought would appreciate a good old London knees up in honour of our furry flying friends. Slowly, the list of confirmed attendees grew, with nearly half those attending getting their tickets beforehand via our Justgiving page , and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. The rest of the tickets were sold on the door.
Another way that money was raised was via our bat raffle. The BCT office responded generously to the call for raffle prizes; they ranged from a number of bat themed items (wooden bat box, bat posters, cuddly toys) to the slightly more obscure (meerkat money box anyone?). All were well received, and special mention must go to Heather at BCT, who dealt well with the lack of a mic to call the raffle with the sort of lung capacity not normally associated with a dancing skeleton.
Anyway, back to the preparations… Having snared a minion in BCT’s Admin Assistant Sian (who is definitely a minion despite being significantly more learned in craft lore than Jess), Jess
arranged a pre-party decorating party at the BCT office, to take stock of the pound shop bat tat, horded decorations from previous years, and crafting templates which had accumulated around the helpline ‘bat cave’. Over wine and snacks, we painted cut-out bats; experimented with the idea of a ‘hook a bat’ game utilizing plastic long-eareds and corks; and stuck googly eyes to every available surface. Bea created a marvellous bat box for the silent auction; Dave (a crafting newbie!) made bat table cloths; and other staff offered to help with party ‘homework’.
The weekend before the party featured scary amounts of glitter, pumpkin innards and dry leaves (collected from Streatham Common for party floor decoration!). Bags of bat tat, boxes of prizes, and the kindly loaned DJ decks (thank you Psyche DJ !) arrived at Clerkenwell’s 1920 club during the day. By kick off a team of volunteers had stuck branches to pillars; hung beautifully crafted bats throughout; draped everything in fake cobweb; and were hurriedly tidying up.
In total, we raised almost six hundred pounds for bat conservation, earning a great sense of achievement and picking up some new craft skills on the way. As for the party, we’ll let the photographic evidence speak for itself!
If you ran a BCT bat fundraiser for halloween, you can send in your donations online!