Man “conned” into buying a prize draw ticket in the name of Our Local Heroes Foundation – video

  1. On 6 December, I received a link to an independent video of one person’s experience of a stall fundraising for the military charity Our Local Heroes Foundation that day and before, in a shopping centre in Greater Manchester. See the comment from “Will” on my “Contact Me” page.
  2. His video has three important messages. First, “Will” shows how he and others were stopped from making a cash donation and directed to buy a rip-off “prize draw” ticket instead. Second, Our Local Heroes Foundation is still working with Prize Promotions Limited, despite telling BBC Radio 5 live at the start of November that it would stop working with the company. Third, this fundraising is even more questionable than “Will” realises. The charity did not have the requisite street collection permit from the local authority, I have discovered. It was an illegal cash collection.
  3. On 5 December, “Will” encountered a stall fundraising for Our Local Heroes Foundation in Walkden Town Centre, a shopping centre also known as the Ellesmere Centre. At the time he thought it was Help For Heroes, the high-profile military charity. Spotting what appeared to be a collection tub on the table, he went to make a cash donation. But the staff in Our Local Heroes Foundation branded clothing prevented him, saying that they were selling “prize draw” tickets, £2.50 each. He bought one, unaware that the ticket sellers were in fact working for the charity’s official professional fundraiser, Prize Promotions Limited of Blackpool. He also didn’t know how much of the ticket price goes to the charity, for three reasons. First, the proportion wasn’t displayed at the point of sale. Second, the sellers hadn’t told him. Third, the ticket failed to disclose the proportion.
  4. That evening, “Will” found my blog and listened to last month’s programme on BBC Radio 5 live exposing the charity and its official professional fundraiser, where I appeared as a live studio guest. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/our-local-heroes-foundation-to-stop-working-with-prize-promotions-limited-on-bbc-radio-5-live/) He wasn’t happy to read here that only 20% (i.e. £0.50) of his £2.50 actually goes to the charity. Like many others, he’d been “conned” – his word – into buying the ticket.
  5. “Will” returned to the stall the next day, witnessing a woman similarly being stopped from making a cash donation and directed to buy a “prize draw” ticket instead. As you can see, he shamed the representatives for their rip-off tactics.
  6. When he challenged the ticket sellers for failing to disclose in any way the unreasonable fundraising costs of 80%, they laughingly referred him to a page hidden in a folder on the stall.
  7. “Will” also complained to them for not making clear that they were in fact from the company Prize Promotions Limited, not the charity. Like many others, he found the stall and the staff uniforms highly misleading.
  8. The video has another important message. Our Local Heroes Foundation told BBC Radio 5 live that it would stop working with Prize Promotions Limited. But it didn’t specify a date. Our programme was broadcast 9 November. The video relates to 5-6 December. So Our Local Heroes Foundation is still working with Prize Promotions Limited.
  9. The final message from the video is that this fundraising is even more questionable than “Will” realises. The charity did not have the requisite street collection permit from the local authority, I have discovered. It was an illegal cash collection.
  10. Not all private sites require charitable collections to be licensed by the local authority; sometimes only the owner’s permission is needed. Although the Walkden Town Centre shopping centre is a private site, Salford City Council licenses street collections there. Yet the licensing section at the council told me that it had not granted a street collection permit in the name of Our Local Heroes Foundation for Walkden Town Centre at the time of the stall. This isn’t the first time that Prize Promotions Limited has conducted a collection in a shopping centre on behalf of a charity without the necessary street collection permit from the local authority. In February 2013, for example, when working with Afghan Heroes, another military charity, Prize Promotions Limited failed to obtain a street collection permit for Merseyway shopping centre in Stockport: see para 12 in https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/the-fundraiser-the-comedian-and-the-ex-cabinet-minister-the-tale-of-a-military-charity/. Without a street collection permit, the public can’t be confident in or trust this alleged charity fundraising. It is also illegal.
  11. Ben Wallace, the MP for Wyre & Preston North (http://www.benwallacemp.com), is a patron of Our Local Heroes Foundation. He has defended the charity and its fundraising activities with Prize Promotions Limited to both me and others, including BBC Radio 5 live: see para 8 in https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/our-local-heroes-foundation-less-than-17-of-3-price-of-wristbands-goes-to-the-charity/. This video confirms serious concerns about the charity’s fundraising and the persistent lack of honesty and integrity on the part of those involved. Patron Mr Wallace can’t deny knowledge of the damning facts.
  12. ADDENDUM: To date, Walkden Town Centre has not replied to emails requesting the start and finish dates for the booking by Prize Promotions Limited that includes the video’s 5-6 December. On 19 December, I spoke on the phone to Elaine Ashton in the management office about the lack of response and was led to believe that the centre would reply.
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Families of the Brave removed from the charity register

  1. In March, I helped expose military charity Families of the Brave and its official professional fundraiser, Sterling Support. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/families-of-the-brave-shows-how-hard-it-is-to-give-with-confidence/) For a summary of the case, see para 8 in https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/army-of-angels-from-tts-promotions-to-vale-promotions/.
  2. On 18 December, Families of the Brave (registered charity number: 1151982) was removed from the Charity Commission public register. The charity, registered 10 May 2013, has “ceased to exist”.
  3. That’s one less bogus military charity from in or around Blackpool.

Army of Heroes and Prize Promotions Limited: is there a link?

  1. There may be a link between Army of Heroes and the notorious Prize Promotions Limited other than that they’re both in Blackpool.
  2. On 24 March 2014, Army of Heroes Ltd (Company number: 08204649) changed its name to “Global V.I.P Card Limited”. Prior to Army of Heroes, it had been called “Global VIP Card Limited”, and was incorporated as such 6 September 2012.
  3. Tony Chadwick is director of Prize Promotions Limited (Company number: 07829587), the official professional fundraiser for charity Our Local Heroes Foundation. Previously, Prize Promotions Limited had this role for Afghan Heroes, another military charity. Luke Varley used to be a director of the company, too, until resigning 4 April 2014.
  4. Both Mr Chadwick and Mr Varley are also directors of Local VIP Ltd (Company number: 07203970). This company sells the “Local VIP Card”, a discount card: http://www.localvipcard.co.uk.
  5. The “Global V.I.P Card Limited” / “Global VIP Card Limited” of Army of Heroes clearly sound similar to Local VIP and its “Local VIP Card”. Is there a link?

Army of Heroes: yet another bogus military charity from Blackpool

  1. I haven’t written about Army of Heroes until now because I hadn’t seen any of its representatives in action. I was already aware of its laughable website: www.armyofheroes.org.uk. There Army of Heroes states: “We have set ourselves an initial target of £50 000 to be raised so that we can register with the Charity Commission, and start helping our heroes.” That’s right, it isn’t even a registered charity. Yet today (12 December) in Manchester city centre, someone in Army of Heroes branded clothing tried to sell me on the street a wristband in the name of what he explicitly said was a charity.
  2. Location: Piccadilly Gardens. Time: 12.30. Two men wearing Army of Heroes branded clothing with clipboards and wristbands, engaging passersby.
  3. Me to one of the wristband sellers: “Is it for a charity?”
  4. Seller: “Yes, Army of Heroes.” He pointed to the information on his clipboard.
  5. Me: “How much are the wristbands?”
  6. Seller: “£3. All of it goes to the soldiers. We’re all volunteers.”
  7. Me: “What is the registered charity number?”
  8. The seller didn’t answer, but pointed to his clipboard.
  9. Me: “But I can’t see a registered charity number.”
  10. Seller: “Look at our website for information.” He then walked off.
  11. It’s ironic that it was Piccadilly Gardens. Manchester City Council doesn’t permit charitable street collections in Piccadilly Gardens or any of the municipal parks or gardens in Manchester. So even if Army of Heroes was a charity, and the council had granted it a street collection permit, it shouldn’t have been collecting there. But it’s not even a registered charity.
  12. Army of Heroes is yet another bogus military charity from in or around Blackpool. The contact address on the website is in Lytham St Annes, south of Blackpool. It registered the domain name, armyofheroes.org.uk, from another local address – one listed as in St Annes only on the WHOIS records. WHOIS shows Army of Heroes with the company number, 08204649. Yet according to Companies House, this is the number for a company called “Global V.I.P Card Limited”, based in Blackpool. In fact, the company with this number has changed its name twice. First, it was “Global VIP Card Limited”, then it became Army of Heroes. This in turn transformed into the current incarnation, “Global V.I.P Card Limited”.
  13. Who is the director(s) of “Global V.I.P Card Limited”? Er, no one. There were two directors, Mr Reece Haslam and Mr Marvin Trussell. Both have now resigned: Mr Haslam, 10 January 2014 and Mr Trussell, 27 March 2014.
  14. Army of Heroes must be stopped now.