Royston Kite Festival 2020 – Royston Virtual Balloon Race

“What are we going to do now there’s to be no Kite Festival?”
That’s the question Royston’s Rotarians have been asking each other since the club’s Council took the decision to cancel their flagship fundraising event, which was to take place in August on the Heath, as it has for the past quarter of a century. “We thought it was likely that large gatherings would still be forbidden on health grounds in August,” said the club’s Kite Festival manager Ray Munden, “so the club’s Council decided it would be better to focus on making the 2021 event a real humdinger. The real sadness is that a number of charities won’t receive the large donations we planned to make from Festival proceeds”

The Festival usually raises £5,000 – £6,000 for charity every year – money that won’t go to whichever good causes would have been chosen by the club. But Rotarian Tony Briar has come up with something that might replace those lost funds, at least in part. Tony’s idea is a Virtual Balloon Race. For £3, people will be able to buy a virtual (not a real) balloon, decorate it with their own design, and choose how much to inflate it (too little, and it might hit a tree; too much and it might pop at 20,000 feet). Then, on 14th September, all the virtual balloons will be released. Real-time weather data will be used to compute how far and in what direction each one will fly, and competitors will be able to track the race on Google Earth. The balloon travelling farthest in seven days will win its owner £500, with an i-Pad as second prize.

The club liked Tony’s idea, hoping that the project would raise a goodly sum for the chosen charity, Home-Start (Royston, Buntingford and S. Cambs). Tony says “We’d love to sell between 500 and 1,000 balloons – a stretchy target when so many people have to stay at home. But with lots of energy and using leaflets and social media, I’m sure we can do it.” The club’s now working out the finer points of the balloon race, and you can expect to hear more about it as the campaign cranks up during the summer.

As Tony says, “A national lockdown needn’t take the fun out of fundraising!”
Royston Rotary Club’s weekly meetings have been suspended during the CV19 emergency. But there’s plenty going on behind the scenes.

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