LEONARDO da Vinci winner Sam Penny has ensured a brighter future for the International Bognor Birdman.
Sam his donated his £1,000 prize money back to the organisers of the popular annual event.
His generosity means some of the outstanding bills from this month’s staging can be paid, and will help the organising committee to be better able to start planning for next year.
Sam and his partner, Emily Neal, talked about the donation a few days after the announcement that the event was back on after a fundraising appeal.
He said: “When I heard it was going to be cancelled, I had already invested the money and time in to the event. To keep the Birdman on, we thought it was worth it to forgo the £1,000 prize money.”
Joint organiser Jim Brooks said: “Sam’s unselfish offer is very much appreciated.”
As reported, Birdman was initially cancelled by the organisers because of a lack of funds – until community backing and sustainable tissue paper maker Cheeky Panda saved the day.
Emily said: “When Sam first phoned me to say the Birdman had been cancelled he was really upset. He said, ‘What am I going to do with my machine now? I’m going to have to take it to the tip.’ It was then that we thought we couldn’t let this happen. We had to do everything we could to keep the Birdman running.”
“We did a lot on social media with the help of others. A page was set up called: Make Bognor Birdman Happen.
“We also contacted all the local businesses and raised £4,000 in just one day. We then contacted BBC South Today who ran a piece on Sam and the event.
“It was from that profile that Cheeky Panda found out and got involved.”
The company’s involvement ensured the ever-popular event was saved.
Mr Brooks said: ” We were delighted with the response from local residents and businesses, and of course Cheeky Panda, which allowed the event to go ahead.
“However, a vital part of reversing our decision to cancel was not just financial, but also the offers received of ‘free’ medical support, boats, scaffold etc.
“Whilst these offers were made with good intent, once the complexity of what was required, particularly with regard to the safe running of the event, was realised, these offers had to be declined.
“As a result, the directors had to re-book completely new professional suppliers at a much greater cost than originally planned.”