Fundraising with a difference: the story of Allen Hart and Tim Beard, as written by Sharon Morrison.

Evidence of tattoos were found on the mummified remains of Egyptian and Nubian women dating back as far as 2000 BC, but they really starting gaining popularity during the 17th and 18th centuries when sailors wore them as good luck charms. Now men and women regularly sport tattoos as a fashion statement. Heating engineer, Tim Beard, of Tim Beard Plumbing & Heating Services, hasn’t been mummified nor is he a sailor, but he now wears a blazing red tattoo of the Intergas Heating logo on his left ankle. This wasn’t a fashion statement either; Tim wanted to raise money for the children’s cancer charity The Candlelighters Trust. Why, out of all the charities did he select this one, which specialises in helping to support children with cancer and their families in Yorkshire? Because of fellow heating engineer Allen Hart, managing director of CCH Leeds.

Candlelighters is very dear to Allen and his wife Joanne whose daughter, Laura, was only 16-months-old when she was diagnosed with Wilms’ cancer, a very rare form of kidney cancer that affects children under five. After many operations and debilitating chemotherapy sessions Laura lost her battle with cancer; she was three. Throughout that period Candlelighters supported the family and Allen supported the charity by beginning a fundraising marathon that is now in its twelfth year. Always a very private person, Allen decided he was going to raise as much money for Candlelighters as he could, but that would involve stepping out of his comfort zone to get his message across and persuade people to donate to the charity. Established in 1976, Candlelighters funds research and essential services in hospitals, and provides vital support to families whose children have cancer.

Starting with a target of £2,000 in 2004, Allen has raised almost £100,000. How he’s done this is down to a simple idea and sheer hard work. First he got people to sponsor him to travel on a quad bike from John O’Groats to Land’s End, and after that to Madrid and back. But the steady donations have come in from his free service work and installations. “After fitting of serving a boiler, I happily ask my customers to donate to the Candlelighters JustGiving page instead of paying me”, said Allen. Word of Allen’s fundraising spread as the media got involved and other installers began to donate their service and installation payments to the charity.

Intergas is just one manufacturer of many to lend its support by providing free boilers and accessories to increase the funds going to Candlelighters. Allen has harnessed social media, like Facebook, Twitter, GasApp and Allen’s own Gas Chat to keep the charity on everyone’s radar and this has been integral in helping raise awareness and money.

Just recently heating engineer, Darren Marsh, director of Flotech Heating & Plumbing, Bishops Stortford, won an Intergas Rapid boiler in a fundraiser and instantly re-donated it to raise money for Candlelighters. Speaking about his actions, Darren said: “The installer community is a very close-knit one and everyone always wants to help others when they can. I heard about Allen’s work through the Intergas Forum on Facebook. Donating my prize was a no-brainer.”

Meanwhile Tim Beard, whose own family has been affected by cancer – his father died from the disease ten years ago and his mother has had cancer twice – has decided to have his right ankle tattooed with the Intergas Heating logo to surpass the £90 he raised earlier this year. Speaking about his decision to go through the pain all over again, Tim said: “Laura’s story and Allen’s actions have spurred most of us on to do that bit more. The Candlelighters Trust is important to Allen and now it’s important to me.” But why, out of all the possible images Tim could have chosen for his tattoo did he decide on the Intergas logo? “I went on an Intergas training course late last year and just really liked the simplicity of the boiler, so when I decided to raise some money for Candlelighters, I wanted to do it with Intergas.”

If you’d like to support Tim in his bid to embellish his second leg, you can donate directly through Allen’s Just Giving page. Here’s the link:

Allen would like to thank Tim, Darren and all the heating engineers who have donated their time, as well as manufacturers for their free products: “I want to empower other people to do what I’ve done. None of us knows what we’re capable of until we’re tested. I now know there are no limits to the good we can all do.”


Written by Sharon Morrison, of Sharon Morrison Communications, Essex.

Image: Allen, Joanne and Laura.

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