GeeWizz founder Gina Long MBE has spent more than 35 years campaigning and fundraising for local and national charities and causes. In that time, she has helped raise well in excess of £2.5 million.
Gina’s passion, enthusiasm and commitment to charity has been long-admired from the world of celebrity, sport, media and charity. But something was missing. She wanted to know exactly where every penny of the money she raised was going. How exactly it was helping to make a difference.
The GeeWizz charitable trust was born.
GeeWizz was launched by Gina to help two specific groups – people living with a disability and those affected, either directly or indirectly, by cancer, including children, their families and those working to treat or research cancer.
Gina first started fundraising when she was just 13 when she organised a 24-hour swimathon in Ipswich and raised £1,300 for children with special needs.
Outside of Gina’s Voluntary Fundraising and Charity Campaigning she has a formidable career heading communications for global companies, along with working in the media. She is also a freelance journalist. Her ‘black book’
Gina was also one of the founding members of the Suffolk Breakthrough Breast Cancer group which announced in the summer of 2015 that it had raised £1 million over the last fifteen years to help fund research into the disease.
In 2011, Gina founded Sir Bobby’s Online Charities Auction, in memory of her great friend and former England football manager Sir Bobby Robson.
The auctions boast incredible money-can’t-buy experiences, donated by a wealth of national and international celebrities. Bidding on the four online auctions came from as far afield as Australia and Bangkok while Gina also organised a charity ball to coincide with the fundraising.
To date, the now-named Ultimate Charity Auction has raised more than £875,000 and supported a number of charities including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Breakthrough Breast Cancer (now called Breast Cancer Now), EACH, West Suffolk Hospital and Ipswich Hospital.
Gina, and her husband Andrew, created the Classic Sports Cars by the Lake which is held annually at their farm raising money for St Nicholas Hospice Care.
Gina was also part of the Suffolk fundraising committee of the Prince’s Trust, chairing it for two of her 10 years, where she helped raise more than £400,000, and later became chair of EACH’s special events committee, covering Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and North Essex.
With a wealth of communications and marketing skills working with some major corporations, Gina’s journalistic work can often be seen in the pages of the Suffolk Magazine and the East Anglian Daily Times where she also edits her own monthly column ‘Charity Pages’. She also has a weekly charity slot on Stephen Foster’s Sunday morning show on BBC Radio Suffolk hosting ‘Sweet Charity’ with Foz.
Gina is also patron of the Ipswich and Suffolk Business Club while in 2015, she was delighted to be asked to become the first ambassador of West Suffolk Hospital Charity.
Away from fundraising, Gina is a ‘farmer’s wife’ living on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds with her husband Andrew. She has two children, Samuel and Alexandra, and five stepchildren James, Charles, Georgina, Thomas and Olivia.
Gina was awarded an MBE for her Charitable Services in East Anglia in the New Year’s Honours List in December 2015
A third generation farmer, Andrew Long was born and bred in Suffolk and is delighted that a large proportion of the money raised by GeeWizz will remain in the county and region.
Andrew shares Gina’s desire to give something back to their local community and to ensure as much money as possible goes to the individual or family targeted.
Andrew was instrumental in helping launch the Classic Cars by the Lake for St Nicholas Hospice Care and is also a trustee of the Focus 12 drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity.
There are clear public benefits of GeeWizz’s purpose. Disabled children will be provided with wheelchairs and other healthcare equipment paid for with funds raised by the organisation. Those affected by cancer will benefit from the funding of research being carried out into the illness and similarly from the purchase of healthcare and medical equipment.
The families of those affected in this way will also benefit. Institutions such as hospitals or universities will benefit from the broader application of equipment purchased using funds donated by the organisation. There will be a wider public benefit in terms of raising awareness and providing important health messages relating to the research being funded.
GeeWizz’s purpose will benefit disabled children, children affected by cancer and their families and carers, and the wider public as a result of funding relating to cancer research.
GeeWizz will help those with disabilities, but this is specifically addressed by the Equality Act. Regarding children, it is a reasonable social policy objective, and legitimate aim, to improve the health of children.
The trustees will consider a broad, non-exhaustive list of criteria in relation to the accordance of funds. No funds will be provided directly to individuals, their families or carers. Instead, funds will be allocated to organisations such as schools, hospitals or the providers of medical equipment.
In relation to the funding of cancer research, the organisation will liaise directly with the institution carrying out the research (or proposed research) and work with them in order to ensure the most suitable allocation of funds. The trustees will meet quarterly in order to consider applications, nominations and potential candidates for funding and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, when all supporting statements and relevant documentary evidence has been considered.
Criteria evaluated will include (but will not be limited to) age, circumstances, family situation, availability of funding from other sources, geographical location, vulnerability of particular individuals and the amount of funding available to the organisation. Along with the criteria outlined in the organisation’s objectives, the trustees will then be able to make reasonable decisions regarding the allocation of funds in accordance with the charity’s constitution.