All in a good cause.

It’s a common part of many businesses social accountability to support charitable causes in their community. Generally this takes the form of businesses nominating a “charity of the year” – a single cause that a business will champion for a 12 month period by raising funds and awareness. In contrast to standard industry practice over the last 18 months Blanchards Bailey has raised £5,000 for three separate charities and has committed to support a fourth until at least the end of March 2022.

Obviously, we find ourselves in a time when economic pressures have left many charities in greater need for continued support that usual. Particularly charities that champion causes that find themselves far from the national headlines. Unlike many businesses that have retreated from their charitable agendas, over the course of the pandemic, Blanchards Bailey have not only maintained its fundraising but have in fact increased it and, in doing so, raised funds for a wide range of charitable causes.

Over the past 18 months the firm has partnered with Longmead Community Farm and Dorchester Youth Theatre as well as raised funds as part of an annual fundraising drive in support of prostate cancer awareness. The firm has also continued it’s corporate partnership with Artsreach, an organisation which brings the performing arts to rural Dorset communities.

Finance Partner, Alan Horne comments about how in early 2019 the board of Blanchards Bailey set about selecting what would be the firm’s “charity of the year” from a number of causes nominated by the staff of the firm.

“We found ourselves in a position where we had been presented with two incredibly worthy causes with values that matched our own. Obviously Longmead is central to the idea of the integrity of the family and how being close to the countryside and nature can be a positive influence. Equally, DYT is a champion of the performing arts in the younger generation and as a firm Blanchards Bailey is a keen supporter of the arts through initiatives like Artsreach. Both are charities are local to our offices so it was an impossible decision really”

“Rather than making a decision which would exclude one charity, as partners of the firm we decided to break with tradition and raise funds for two charities. It made perfect sense really. It did not fundamentally change what we would be doing throughout the financial year in terms of our fundraising activities, only that the ‘pot’ would be split two ways at the end. We had the chance to show support for two causes with very different but equally noble goals, so we took it”

Over the following financial year the firm raised £2000 for LCF and DYT through a diverse range of fundraising activities. Leah-Mae Mansfield, chair of Blanchards Baileys Social and Charity Committee was key in organising many of the initiatives.

“We’ve become pretty organised over the years when it comes to our fundraising activities. We tend to make them part of the firm’s social calender so people can socialise whilst rasiing funds for charity at the same time. Most years we tend to hold internal events like a firmwide quiz, bingo and a summer barbecue. This year we also tried a new initiative of ‘Grow £20’. Each department in the firm started with £20 which they had to use to grow a mini inhouse business to increase that £20 as much as they could. We had some really innovative ideas come out of the woodwork and of course as a law firm we made a competition out of it!”

So which team grew their £20 the most and won the competition?

“Typically the litigation team won. They’re a competitive bunch for sure! They bought penny sweets in bulk, packaged them up and opened a tuck shop. I don’t know what their profit margins were but they were selling sweets for 50p a packet. I know they satisfied everyone’s sugar cravings for those months!”

But is wasn’t all plain sailing. Managing Partner, Paul Dunlop remembers the firm’s efforts to host a charity tag rugby tournament.

“Every year we try to host a “flagship” event. In previous years we’ve held a cycle race night with a company called rollapullooza. It’s basically a race night but with attendees racing against each other on static bikes. This year we decided to host a rugby tournament. It started to become a bad joke really! We initially planned to host a tag rugby tournament, inviting other businesses to form teams and so on, and had planned to hold it around the time of the six nations in 2019. That had to be postponed because the pitch was double booked. So we thought we’d use the rugby world cup as our back drop. We were going to hold the tournament on the same day as the Japan v England game – start the day with a bacon sandwich then watch the game and enjoy a cider or two and hold the tournament over the afternoon with a barbecue going. Then the typhoon in Japan resulted in the game being cancelled! So we figured we’d kick it on to Easter of 2020 and then lockdown hit! I remember us still talking about doing it at the end of the summer ‘when all this is over’… and here we still are.”

In the end it became clear that 2020 was not going to be the year for a rugby tournament. The decision was made to count up the funds raised and distribute them to the charities. We came to the view that we couldn’t be sure when we would be able to host a flagship event as we would wish. The pandemic just made everything too unpredictable and we didn’t want to keep entrants waiting, plus the charities themselves. Also, our thinking was that during the pandemic was the better time for the charities to receive the funds, rather than afterwards”.

The 2020 lockdowns and social distancing measures made the logistics and timing of cheque handovers and photo ops difficult. However, all parties were able to take the opportunity after the November 2020 lockdown to meet and arrange for a socially distanced handover of cheques in the sum of £1000 each at the firm’s Dorchester and Blandford offices.

However, performing arts and families in crisis were not the only causes that the staff of Blanchards Bailey made part of their fundraising agenda. Jerome Dodge, the firm’s Head of Private Client, had a further brainwave.

“Last year, the firm lost a dear friend and colleague – Mark Bellman. Mark was a former partner of the firm and had been one of the founders of Blanchards Bailey in its current iteration. Over a long career in residential property Mark made himself an essential part of the professional landscape in and around Blandford. In fact it was often said that between Mark and Alan Horne, they could walk into any room and Mark would know one half and Alan would know the other! Mark passed away in late 2019 following a long battle with prostate cancer and we wanted to honour his memory in 2020.

The Movember Foundation is a well-known charity provided the ideal cause to allow us to commemorate Mark. The charity is famous across the world for championing men’s health and particularly causes such as testicular and prostate cancer. We decided that it would be a fitting tribute to Mark if we ran a fundraising initiative to raise as much awareness and funds towards prostate cancer as we could. A group of partners and staff pledged to grow a moustache for November as that’s a given with Movember hence the name! Some of our team also pledged to run or walk 60km across the course of the month. The number 60 is significant as that is the number of men that Movember say are lost to suicide every hour across the world.”

Ben Jones, senior associate in the firm’s Litigation and Disputes team, was one of the team known as “Mark’s Mo-Bros and Mo-Sisters”:

“At the start of the month we didn’t have a set fundraising target – we just wanted to raise as much as we could in Mark’s memory really. It was a great opportunity to get moving as well, especially after the second lockdown was imposed and gyms closed. It allowed us to get out for our daily exercise and do something for a good cause in the process. The fact that it was for a cause that Mark would have approved of was hugely motivating – as were all the kind words of encouragement we received from Mark’s friends and family. As a firm we also arranged for a local company to produce face masks with a huge moustache across the front and the hashtag #markmovember – as that was what we were doing; marking Movember for Mark! Those were sold to staff, clients, friends and family and all proceeds after the cost of the masks went to Movember.”

By the end of the team of seven, four of whom were also running/ walking, had travelled 377.97km and had raised £2330 which the partners of the firm increased to £3000. Ben said:

“I don’t think any of us expected to raise as much as that! It was a huge surprise when some incredibly generous donations came in from people and companies who knew Mark. It’s really a testament to how well he was thought of during his lifetime and still is. Even towards the end of the month and after, donations just kept coming in! So much so that we’d actually done our photo op in early December with a big cheque showing the most up to date figure… and then more donations came in! I think we’ve almost doubled the figure that was on the original cheque now which is amazing”.

Moving forward into the 2021 financial year, despite the ongoing pressures of the pandemic, Blanchards Bailey isn’t showing any signs of shying away from it’s commitment to support local charities and causes.

The firm is pleased to announce that it will be partnering with the Gap Project until at least March 2022. The Gap Project is an ecotherapy group based at Louds Mill allotment plots in Dorchester and was created by Meyers Estate Agents and Dorset Mind. Spending time outdoors is proven to benefit both mental and physical wellbeing. The GAP Project provides practical support by trained staff and volunteers to those with mental health problems. The aim of the project is to improve the quality of life experienced by participants by supporting them to build confidence, self-esteem and resilience whilst connecting with nature and other people. The GAP Project offers outdoors support from an onsite facilitator and volunteers to help grow and tend three allotment plots.

To read more about any of the causes supported by Blanchards Bailey over the last 18 months you can visit the following links where any donations to these very worthy causes are gratefully received.


Dorchester Youth Theatre


Blanchards Bailey

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