Monkey Music helps fundraising in 'Thanet of the Apes'
Thanet publisher smashes personal best in the Great Gorilla Run
Ben runs local publisher Ozaru Books - which is named after the great apes - but is also a key figure in the area's music, leading the Impromptu Ensemble and organizing numerous concerts at St Nicholas church. He has often before supported the Gorilla Organization's annual event - where around 500 participants run about 8 km through the middle of London dressed in imaginatively decorated full-body gorilla suits - but this year he used his musical skills to scale it up, raising over £1000.
Ben says, "I took part in the run six times between 2004 and 2010, and together with several friends managed to raise nearly £7500. Then I took a break for a few years - the dates clashed and we moved house - so this year was a last-minute decision, and none of my friends could make it. I was aiming to raise £880, to reflect the 880 critically endangered mountain gorillas still alive, but am delighted that I've managed to go far beyond that - at the moment my total stands at £1086 plus £179 in Gift Aid, but people are still giving donations so it may rise further."
To raise funds this year, Ben wore his gorilla suit to rehearsals of Thanet Light Orchestra, Ramsgate Operatic Society, and St Nicholas-at-
"It does get incredibly hot and sweaty in the suit, but in fact the biggest problems are the mask's visibility and the fact that it cuts out a lot of what you can hear - which is of course essential for a musician. Also, during the run it's quite difficult to get enough air, so many people take the mask off, although I've always made it a point of honour to wear it throughout."
Although Ben ran by himself, the largest group at this year's Great Gorilla Run also came from Thanet: Alfie's Striders entered 25 people. As it so happens, the main organizer of the event, The Gorilla Organization's events manager Chris Perrin, is also an ex-Chatham House School boy from Broadstairs. Overall the event has raised over £2.2 million for the gorillas since it started in 2003.
Ben says several friends from the various musical groups have agreed to join him next year, so he's looking forward to raising even more. "The running isn't really the point - some do run, but many just jog or even walk. I'm the least fit person I know, but I still enjoy pushing myself a little out of my comfort zone for the sake of such a good cause."
In the next week he has two concerts - one with the Railway Swing Band in Folkestone, and one a quartet recital in Ramsgate. Will he wear the gorilla suit at the gigs? "You'll just have to come and see...", he replies with a wink.
Several pictures and links can be found at: http://www.ozaru.net/