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In my spare time I help fundraise for The Lido in my home town of Chipping Norton. I got involved back in 2003 when our local authority announced they were to close this much loved facility. Spurred on by an angry community (no pitchforks were involved), I joined a small group of spirited volunteers dedicated to saving the pool. One of our first fundraising events was an auction of promises and Jeremy Clarkson, who lives half a mile from the pool, offered to be our auctioneer. Such was the success of that event we have held one nearly every year since and the pool remains open.
A few months before the now infamous “Top Gear” fracas Jezza had agreed to host our tenth auction for us. Our initial concerns that he might cancel (he had rather a lot on his mind after all and he’d just cancelled his planned appearance on “Have I Got News For You”) were allayed when his PA rang to say he’d be arriving early for a briefing. True to his word he turned up in great spirits and agreed to a short interview filmed by the talented Gary Creese, one of our trustees.
Within hours of publishing the video on YouTube over 10,000 people had watched it. 10,000 an hour joined in and, at the time of writing this blog - just four days after uploading the video - over 320,000 people had watched the film.
Anyway, the auction raised just over £15,000 - enough to keep the pool going for another year - and many more people know about the pool’s existence. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Mr Clarkson’s popularity, and I personally wish him well in whatever he chooses to do next.