Peter began volunteering for Help for Heroes four years ago after speaking with the local volunteer coordinator at a rugby club event. Quickly thrown into the deep end, his first event was the Lincolnshire Show, followed later in the year by the very important responsibility of guiding Hero Bear through the Lincoln Christmas Market! Peter has attended many more events since then and, more recently, he took part in his first challenge, the Big Battlefield Bike Ride.
Peter has used several fundraising methods over the past four years, but highly recommends using Hero Bear; “It’s an excellent fundraising tool, and everyone loves it”. Sharing some of his main hints and tips for those using the mascot for the first time he said, “Make the most of every photo opportunity! Families love taking pictures with the bear and will often donate afterwards”. You can also encourage them to share the images on social media tagging @HelpforHeroesOfficial and using #ProudtoSupport which helps spread the word.
If you have permission, Peter suggests walking around in/with Hero Bear at the event to raise awareness of your presence; “In large areas I walk the bear around and direct people back to our stand to help increase footfall”.
“Communication is key!”. As the mascot can be a little tricky to see out of, Peter recommends always having a guide for the person wearing the suit who can give clear verbal directions about potential obstacles, especially incoming children and curious dogs. It’s important to make sure that the wearer is comfortable. The suit is warm, even in the winter, so make sure they have plenty of water. “I often have a seat outside the stand for Hero Bear to sit on, like a statue, this gives the wearer a break and still encourages people to come over”.
When changing in and out of the suit at an event, try to find a private changing area or have a practice beforehand. No child wants to see Hero Bear missing its head!
Overall, Hero Bear is a fantastic addition to any event, especially family-orientated ones. If you have an upcoming fundraising event or challenge and think the mascot will help you reach your target, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Finally, Peter’s top tip is to smile and persevere with your fundraising. Having someone smile at you and say good morning is a great way to encourage people to donate to you.