Thursday, 13 January 2011

Making a Big Splash to End Hunger

When a year ago Tim Holder, the new director of The Hunger Project in the UK, announced he would invite Dionne Warwick for a gala concert in London to celebrate World Hunger Day in January 2011 he met with some skepticism. Why a gala concert? Why Dionne Warwick? Where would he get the resources? How would it make a difference? Shouldn't we focus on more 'serious' issues?

But Tim held on to his dream with great persistence. He is a life-long fan of Dionne's work and with his experience in marketing and his understanding of the power of music and entertainment he kept his eye on the ball. He persuaded Dionne to come to London for World Hunger Day and started working on a staggering list of 'Friends' - renowned stars with the likes of Nathalie Cole, Elaine Paige and David Elliot. With a small staff in London he mobilised scores of volunteers and partners that would contribute to the organisation of the day: The Apollo Theatre as a perfect location, Brandme and Eye PR for perfect publicity and communication, a show producer, an orchestra and much, much more. 

From a distance, as THP staff in the Netherlands, I watched this intriguing process with great interest but still with skepticism. In the lowlands we are not grown up to think and dream BIG. Anyone standing out from the crowd will be looked at as a show-off. Mediocre rules in our mountain-less country. Whenever I heard Tim talking with enthusiasm and learned about his progress, part of me cheered and wanted to believe him, but another part would be whispering challenges and barriers - things that could lead to failure.

On the 9th of January we came over to London for the great day. World Hunger Day 2011! And, of course, the day went on like clockwork and even better: it touched the hearts of everyone. In the afternoon there were great presentations of the work of The Hunger Project by directors from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Then the evening show started in a packed Apollo Theatre. The 2000+ crowd was mesmerised by the great performances. Dionne Warwick was a perfect 'host' of the evening - relaxed, warm, telling great stories by her songs and introducing her friends in a very personal way. The evening really paid tribute to the core message of The Hunger Project: be driven by our universal sense of humanity and love and when motivated we can all make miracles happen. As Dionne introduced Tim Holder to the stage she underscored that it is possible to follow your dream and make it real, culminating in a lovely duet between her and Tim. A short message from our global CEO, a lovely poem by one of our global staff members and a short movie of THP's work put all this in the context of ending Hunger and Poverty - we shall make it happen by accompanying and empowering communities on their journey towards self-reliance.
World Hunger Day 2011 was a great success and made a big Splash in the UK to reintroduce The Hunger Project to the general public. It featured in newspapers, radio and television shows in the run-up to the events. There were many pledge forms returned after the event and possible investors are lining up to get into a conversation with THP to support them in the future. 

It was very inspiring to be part of the events in London. Tim Holder and his team showed us that with great ideas, dedication and perseverance, BIG things can be achieved. Tim, we applaud you! Your gift to us was the inspiration to make us dream again and think BIIIIGGG. This will surely help to end chronic hunger and poverty.

More pictures on world hunger day
More on world hunger day


  1. Wonderful review, great to read about the journey as viewed from The Hunger Project in the Netherlands!

    Two important elements of The Hunger Project's work; grassroots activity in developing countries and campaigning in the developed world.. it is so important for us in the developed world to engage, inform and inspire those around us and I truly believe this event was a great example of achieving this.

  2. Very interesting. It is a professional approach to link grassroot initiatives with reaching a big audience to support these projects. What I like is the positive approach. Not to collect funds on disasters, but based on successes!

  3. Thanks for your replies, LondonN1 and Simon. Inded, it is the positive message of the event that carries the story. I think this has been done for many years (Live Aid etc) but for us at THP is was an eye opener...