Clowning Around for a Cause

Have you ever had one of "those" days? I'm referring to that day when working doesn't seem fulfilling and you'd much rather slack off, maybe even go see a comedy production in the middle of the afternoon.

In Great Britain, some people get to do this. On that island, some people even get to throw custard pies into their manager's face ─ as long as it's for a good cause.

Kate Baker, marketing manager for Spooner Industries in West Yorkshire, shared some great pictures of employees at the head office throwing pies and otherwise clowning around on Red Nose Day (March 18). The day is set aside for fun- and fund-raising, and the receipts go to Comic Relief, a major charity based in the United Kingdom that "strives to create a just world, free from poverty." The organization funds several projects in the UK and Africa.

Kate explained that her company sets aside money for charity each year. Two years ago, employees paid to put their directors in stocks and throw wet sponges at them for Red Nose Day. (I'm trying to imagine this in the U.S.)

"We are limited to what we can do with everyone being stretched to the limit at the moment and, with having our manufacturing facility onsite, there are plenty of health and safety issues to consider," she said. "We have are our own health and safety policies which are outlined for both the office and factory environment," Kate explained.

Spooner Industries has almost 80 years of experience in the drying, curing, baking, and cooling processes for a diverse range of industries, including paper, converting, food, and metals.

"Obviously, there are tighter restrictions in the factory, such as PPE, that must be worn and precautions that must be taken around equipment that limits us to what fundraising can take place without excluding the works' staff from the activities. The only part they couldn’t join in was dressing up."

Spooner employs a health and safety executive who oversees these issues. "Punish the Management" was revived because of its popularity and "low risk." Most of that activity occurred outside.

Leading up to the big day, staff members were encouraged to make donations to jars displaying pictures of their "favorite" management team member: Managing Director Mike Brook, Sales and Project Director Steve Newell, Manufacturing Manager Robert Proctor, Technical Manager Andrew Marson, and Financial Controller John Muggleston. Proctor and Newell were the winning custard pie targets with £129 and £87, respectively.

Staff members also offered up services and items that were raffled off as prizes.

"It’s really important that people in our industry see how easy it is to raise money and have a laugh at the same time. It really was an enjoyable day and as well as the money raised for such a worthy cause, it was a great boost for staff morale."

Spooner's participation brought in more than £800 (US$1,200). According to Comic Relief, Red Nose Day activities this year brought in nearly US$19 million.

Posted by Lisa Williams on Mar 30, 2011