Could Nick Hopkinson be the fundraising king of Cheshire?

PUBLISHED: 17:16 28 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:16 28 September 2020

Nick Hopkinson, High Sheriff of Cheshire
Photo: Lesley Hopkinson

Nick Hopkinson, High Sheriff of Cheshire Photo: Lesley Hopkinson

Scott Tetlow

Nick Hopkinson was appointed High Sheriff of Cheshire in April, via Zoom, but lockdown simply served to supercharge his fundraising

Nick, here with son Toby, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro five times for charityNick, here with son Toby, has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro five times for charity

A conversation with Nick Hopkinson is possibly the most energising way to start your day. Full of ideas, positivity and a passion for supporting local causes, Nick Hopkinson, Cheshire’s 607th High Sheriff, makes it clear that his role isn’t some fluffed up ceremonial ‘in name only’ part to play, with silk knickerbockers and a feathered hat (though he does have these, and very dapper he looks too) but a role that’s crucial to the continued existence of many of this county’s most necessary charities and charitable organisations. But how has it been, being a lockdown High Sheriff?

‘It’s been unbelievable. Initially everything stops and then you shake yourself down and say okay how do I turn this round then and make even more of it because of the circumstances, than less of it. Every cloud has a silver lining and not going out and having dinner with loads of civic people and not having to open things and not travelling has meant I’ve had a lot more time on my hands (and I’ve not got as fat as I’d expected) and have done a lot more in the last six months than I ever thought I could; it’s actually turbocharged things that I like doing, which is actually my charity work.’

His fundraising activities have barely paused to breathe during lockdown and ongoing restrictions, with a planned event for Warrington Youth Club going online, and raising half a million pounds for funding mentoring programmes for the young people the club supports, hours and hours spent in conversation with small charities seeking ideas and advice on how to change the way they raise funds when the traditional methods are now closed to them, and the incredibly successful launch of a campaign to raise £1.5 million to buy a new brainscanner for Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital.

‘RMCH is the biggest dedicated children’s hospital in the country and this brain scanner will be able to help the treatment of everything from brain tumours to epilepsy,’ Nick says. ‘I am just about to kick off the first fundraising project with Manchester artist Scott Tetlow, who is creating an amazing series of original works that we shall sell to Manchester companies with every penny going to the scanner. I am also working with two sculptors, Christopher Marvell and Mark Coreth, who will create a limited edition run of pieces – Christopher a Manchester Owl and Mark a swallow, representing the children who attend the hospital, leave and then come back again. All this should raise just under £1m. I just think there is something intrinsically glowing about art anyway, and if you can look at your Manchester Owl or your swallow and say “yes, I have a lovely bit of art but also I helped save a life”, it’s reinforcing you’re a good person every single day - and where there is desolation and pandemic, if you know you’ve done something good to help people who are more impacted than you are, you feel good.’

The Manchester Owl, created by Christopher Marvell, for Nick Hopkison's fundraiser to by a new brain scanner for Royal Manchester Children's Hospital
Photo: Lesley HopkinsonThe Manchester Owl, created by Christopher Marvell, for Nick Hopkison's fundraiser to by a new brain scanner for Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Photo: Lesley Hopkinson

This isn’t Nick’s first foray into using art to raise funds for charity. He has worked with the Joshua Tree on an art auction and is currently working with artist Anish Kapoor, who he asked to create a limited-edition piece that will raise £700,000 for Maggie’s cancer centres.

Nick seems to be a constant fount of ideas, and I wonder where they spring from.

‘Half the time I don’t know where these ideas come from, I just see something somewhere and it buries in my subconscious, then one day I’ll be chatting to someone and they say something and I think maybe if I take this from my subconscious and plant it in his subconscious that will make some magic happen. The evolution of ideas can lead to great things. This thing with the pandemic – I can’t sit on my bum and do nothing, so I come up with new ideas of what I can do.

One of 22 artworks created by Manchester artist ScottTetlow for RMCH. The bee emblem was first used in Manchester in the mid-19th century, when seven bees were incorporated into the city's coat of armsOne of 22 artworks created by Manchester artist ScottTetlow for RMCH. The bee emblem was first used in Manchester in the mid-19th century, when seven bees were incorporated into the city's coat of arms

‘Did I mention that I’m taking 16 women up Mount Kilimanjaro in February? It’s a fundraiser for Warrington Youth Club, but it has an extra dimension with Active Cheshire who have funded four places for four young women who have the potential to do really amazing, great things as they get older. I really believe in the power of women and it’s hard for young women to find the right role models, who engage with them and this will help answer that. They are incredible young women who I hope wil come back so inspired and so motivated and full of the belief that “there’s nothing I can’t do now,” and then hopefully we will get them going round different youth organisations talking to other young women to see if we can motivate them.”

I think this man could outrun the Duracel bunny, and if we could spread his energy and ethos around the county, there would be no stopping any of us.

‘Just liberate yourself to feel good about yourself. You can’t turn the telly on to get good news, but you can be the good news for a charity and even save a young life.’

If you are keen to purchase one of the limited edition artworks raising funds for RMCH, email donna@hoppyhome.co.uk. The Christopher Marvell Manchester Owl and Mark Coreth Swallow will be for sale at £4,800 and £3,500 respectively. Scott Tetlow’s work is available only to residents of or businesses with premises in Manchester and there are only 22 available, at £10,000 each.

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