TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson has upset the fundraisers of Cheshire in his latest article for The Times, “The Cheshire charity rip-off.”
In his column this week Clarkson takes issue with the fact that “the noble people of Cheshire give more to charity than anyone else in Britain.” Based on his experience of the area he wonders what they are giving and how much of it is reaching or being used by the cause.
Focusing on the inhabitants of Wilmslow and Alderley Edge, a favourite target of his, he lampoons a typical local charitable appeal: “This poor African village had nothing. But thanks to the efforts of our fundraisers in Wilmslow and Alderley Edge, it now has electric gates.”
The article is no doubt intended to provoke, and gets some cheap laughs. The most that can be said of it is that it does raise the somewhat obvious question of how much do celebrity fundraising events actually raise for charities. Are charities in danger of trying to offer more and more lavish events in order to stay ahead of their competitors?
He concludes with some more obvious advice: “When you’re faced with the choice of what events to attend, don’t ask which footballers are going and what sort of peacock will be used to garnish the roast swan. Ask only how much of the proceeds will actually be going to charity.”
The Wilmslow Express picked up on the story: Clarkson, says the newspaper, “challenges the integrity of fundraisers, claiming they benefit more than the charities they support and suggests shallow motives and values afoot.”
While the newspaper admits that the column was written in a tongue in cheek style, it features angry ripostes from a range of local fundraisers, determined to counter the claim of ineffectiveness.