Finding harmony in fundraising

Case study of a fundraiser – Paul Bonett’s Aikido sessions

Fundraiser and Aikido black belt Paul Bonett has now hosted more than one hundred and seventy five sessions for BSUH Charity. In doing so, he’s raised hundreds of pounds to support the NHS and bought together people from across the globe.

Paul has been practising the Japanese martial art aikido – which means the way of harmony – for more than 40 years and founded Sussex Aikido. When lockdown meant the suspension of Sussex Aikido’s sessions at a sports centre by the Amex stadium he decided to offer free online sessions.

(photo taken pre COVID-19)

Inspired to help the NHS 

Most of BSUH Charity’s supporters have completed individual challenges or held one off events to raise donations. Paul has taken a more extended option, and has been hosting twice daily Aikido training sessions online since early April.

On average, forty people join the sessions on Facebook Live and Zoom.

 “I thought it would probably last for about 30 or 40 classes;” says Paul, who is a highly qualified 6th dan blackbelt, “but then it gradually gained a bit of traction.”

“I initially started doing the online lessons without thinking about the charity, then inspired by all the clapping for the NHS and the amazing work everyone is doing, I decided to suggest anyone doing the training might donate to help the NHS. 

“I’m doing this for free and saying ‘it would be handy if you could give us a few quid for the NHS, and some people have gone ‘yeah, why not!’. The response has been great.”

 An international community

What makes Paul’s fundraising all the more impressive is that the majority of those logging in for his daily sessions aren’t from the Sussex area served by BSUH NHS Trust’s four hospitals, indeed a significant number are not even in the UK.

 “A lot of the people doing it are aikido people, but there are also people doing it who have never done aikido in their lives, but just like the idea of it,” explains Paul.

“There’s a couple of people in Marrakesh, Morocco, another pair regularly join session from America. There’s a guy from Austria, a woman from Finland even two people from Japan. Amazingly, one of the guys is in Australia and he’s done about 140 sessions!

Spreading harmony

But how has the experience been for Paul?

“It’s been very inspiring, it’s been amazing. It’s really nice the fact that I am pulling people together and they get to know each other online as part of this group. To be honest, it’s like a family now of people, who I know, who I didn’t know before! It’s also amazing what they have all learnt.”

 Visit Paul’s JustGiving page for more information