For Tits’ Sake: Joe and John’s Hog Roast

Between the two of them, Belfast-born second year students Joe and John have successfully raised £4000 for Breast Cancer Now. I spoke to the two boys about how they pulled out all the stops to do this with ‘For Tits’ Sake’, a charity hog-roast that they held earlier this year.

The boys are doing a 300 mile sponsored cycle in June from Budapest to Zagreb over a period of four days. They told me that this is a great challenge because not only are they raising for a great cause, but they’re keen on the opportunity to challenge themselves, travel and learn. A part of the challenge lay in fundraising itself, for to participate in the cycle, Joe and John had to raise £2000 each.

I was impressed by the creativity that the boys exercised whilst they fundraised. They found the funds in a variety of ways, with a pub quiz that they held back home in Belfast, £1200 with a live music night there, and another £1200 by putting on a night at local bar-club Koh Tao. Of course the only thing left to do to earn the final stretch was to host an all-night hog-roast at their student-house in Fallowfield.

While a hog-roast sounds like quite an out-there way to raise money, Joe and John said that it was one of the first fundraising ideas that they’d come up with, and assured me that it was ‘always the plan’. Joe was following family footsteps in a way, he’d done a couple of hog-roasts with his family before, and commented ‘My brother did it at uni and I just thought that sounds class. And we’ve got that nice big garden out the back’.

It was a nice big garden out the back, I’ve got to say. I came across ‘For Tits’ Sake’ via. my friend Adrian, who knew Joe and John from back in Ireland. I promised him that I’d write a scathing review of the party, but I’m going to have to let him down because I don’t want to be dishonest and I actually had a pretty good time. I’d put it down to the comfort of a great many Irish voices, some lovely garden decor and an even greater number of pints. It was a bit surreal to see a whole pig lying on a table surrounded by condiments and bread buns, but you really can’t go wrong with a campfire. The turnout was large and everyone there was chatting and conversing with friends as the sky darkened and the fire got bigger. Techno started playing and people started dancing as the night went on.

As one might expect, the hog-roast took a fair bit of preparation. I was told that the highlight of the night was staying up all night cooking the pig. John explained why this was the case, ‘Just like how ridiculous the situation was, everyone got involved like’. You might wonder where you might acquire a hog for roasting. Turns out it wasn’t taken from the wild, and that the boys sourced it from a wholesale meat supplier a twenty minute drive from their house. However, tragedy struck when the supplier was closed at pick-up time: ‘We thought it was all over. We were ringing round trying to get in touch with the wholesalers and stuff, they were like, “We open at 4 in the morning and close at 1pm”’. This called for an early-morning road trip, ‘We had to drive there for four o’clock in the morning’. Luckily John and Joe are stand-up guys and found it in them to have a bit of a laugh about it all.

‘It was quite funny though, we had to take it out of the boot of my friend’s car. There might have been a couple of people walking past ‘cos it was like 5am’

‘We could’ve got stopped by police, like “Pop the trunk”, “It’s just a pig”’.

‘At least we didn’t have to do it on the Magic Bus’.

And that’s not the last of the pig-related trauma. The day after the party, a suspicious post appeared on the Facebook group Fallowfield Students. A decapitated pig’s head had turned up next to a very local Fallowfield postbox. I was prepared to find and reveal Joe and John as the perpetrators, but I had to back off in shame as they cleared their names. ‘We don’t know who did it, someone stole it I think! People just sort of randomly appeared that we didn’t really know but yeah that was kind of shit’.

In the spirit of true Irishmen, the plan was also to get some pints on draft. The world must’ve been working against Joe and John, however, because their contact at the brewery ‘ran out of kegs for the month and the next batch was ruined’.

After all the time and energy put into organising the event, the boys were understandably spent. ‘I passed out at like 3am, it was straight after the pig was cooked! I couldn’t last at all, we were up all night cooking the pig and just went straight through’ ‘I was in bed by like 9 o’clock or something’. But even though they were ‘not really’ around for the party, it all felt worth it: ‘I still had a great time like’.

‘For Tits’ Sake’ raised about £460 in total, minus the investments made for the £90 pig and campfire materials. Joe explained why the expenditures felt justified: ‘Overall we just about hit our target. We made quite a lot of money from like previous fundraisers so we knew we could’ve like spent a bit more on this one, we wanted to make it really good’. I can see why this is the case, because a memorable event can really bring momentum for future fundraising events. You can build a name and raise awareness. It all helps to get more money going in the right directions, ideally out of people’s pockets, and into those of the people that need it the most.

More generally, Joe and John had a couple of things to say about charity work. They detailed an experience with a man from an organisation which helps the homeless, and the way in which both parties were able to connect by talking about their charity work.

‘Having done it now, you can sort of appreciate how if any of your mates are fundraising you should just go support them, ‘cos it’s nothing to just one person paying a fiver for an event, but when it’s like a fiver from everyone, it actually makes quite a big difference.

‘Yeah, and you sort of have to appreciate how hard charities have to work to raise, ‘cos you could all do it, raise £2000 each’.

If there’s one thing I took away from my conversation with Joe and John, it was the importance of getting everyone involved, whether it be friends or family. Regarding the Koh Tao and live music events that drew the rest of the charity funds in, the boys said ‘a few of our mates DJ quite a bit so they were happy to help us out for free and play the tunes all night’  and that ‘[we] have quite musical families like parents and cousins and stuff’. It seems that everyone pooling their talents is not only what provides the fun in event-planning, but also allows for successful events that could really make an impact donation-wise. So, spreading the fundraising process through your close circles can make for more exciting, effective raising, pig or no pig.

Since £4000 is an outstanding amount of money, finally, I asked how it felt to raise such a great deal for such a great cause. I was met with a typically muted, laddish response: ‘Good yeah, need to start training for the cycle though is the only thing like’.

Even though the party’s over, it’s not too late to donate to Breast Cancer Now, either directly here: https://everydayhero.co.uk/event/b2z17

Or through John and Joe’s pages, which are here: https://b2z17.everydayhero.com/uk/joe-s-breast-cancer-now-cycle

https://b2z17.everydayhero.com/uk/john-s-budapest-zagreb-cycle-for-breast-cancer-now

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