Meet Mel Taylor – our Charity & Creative Director

January 16, 2014 // Rachel Ellis

Our Charity & Creative Director Mel has paved the way for a humble half marathon to become one of the top three UK road race fundraisers – with a total of £14 million being raised by our runners since 2000. The charity presence on race day – and the support that these charities provide for the runners – is a major reason of why runners come back year on year. This week we have quizzed Mel about her role, and her favourite  things about the Bath Half.

1. How long have you worked on the Bath Half?
My husband and I set up Running High Events Ltd when we took over management of the Bath Half in 2000. I’d been roped in for various volunteer roles in previous years, including drink stations, baggage tent and goody bags.

2. Tell us a little bit about your role as Charity and Creative Director?
My work is really varied, and changes through the year according to where we are in the event cycle on the Bath Half and our other events. On the charity side I review the scheme framework and charity selection each year. We’re now working with over 95 charities on the Bath Half. Some of these have been with us since we introduced the scheme in 2000, but each year we target a few new charities to increase the choice for race entrants. In selecting our featured race charities for each year I also have to be aware of charities’ current activities and resources, which can involve visits to charity projects. We are constantly trying to improve what we can provide for our charities to maximise their fundraising and profile, and to keep the scheme exciting and enjoyable.

I also administer our Bath Half Marathon Fund grants scheme which distributes around £15,000 a year from runners donations in cash grants to smaller local charities and voluntary groups through Quartet Community Foundation. This was set up 11 years ago now.

On the creative side I’m responsible for the development of our brand identity which includes graphic design and website, and also for our press and media work, including social media, and for our customer care.

3. What’s the best bit about your role – the bit that gets you out of bed everyday ?
I am very proud to have created a platform which enables charities to raise significant sum of money for amazing good causes, but also to raise their profile in a variety of ways. I am particularly passionate about the smaller charities who may lack marketing and budgets but have abundant enthusiasm, commitment and ideas. They are equally important to me as the larger better known charities. Creating long lasting partnerships with charities is also a hugely enjoyable and rewarding experience.

The variety of the work is very exciting. We’ve been organising the Bath Half for 15 years now, but no 2 days are the same. The race has evolved so much over the years, implementing new ideas helps keep things fresh.

4. How much money do Bath Half runners’ raise each year ?
The charity fundraising from the Bath Half continues to rise year on year. In 2013 we hit our target of £2 million pounds which was an amazing achievement. We’re very proud that the Bath Half is the largest single day charity fundraising event in the south west region.

I have great admiration and respect for each and every one of our runners who take time and commitment to train and put themselves on the line to run the 13.1 miles, and for all their friends, family and work colleagues who so generously put their hands in their pocket to support such worthy causes.

5. What’s the best fancy dress outfit you’ve seen on race day?
I’ve seen some amazing costumes over the years. Coppafeel’s boob costumes are pretty eye catching! Last year we had two men wearing inflatable pink costumes of male genitalia! Our commentator was lost for words when they crossed the finishing line together, particularly as one outfit had partially deflated !

6. Do you have a favourite Bath Half moment?
There have been so many ‘golden moments’ at the Bath Half. But each year I take time to watch the finish, to see thousands of people cross the finishing line and achieve their goals. Each runner has a personal story to tell. They never fail to inspire me, and make all of the hard work of the previous 12 months completely worthwhile.

7. Have you ever run the Bath Half, and if so what was it like?
Yes, I ran the Bath Half in 2011. We had dreadful weather that year, and I didn’t have the best preparation immediately before the race. I’d been running around on site all day Saturday, and back again at dawn on race day morning. 5 minutes before the start I checked my watch and ran up to the start line, and chucked my radios and files to a colleague. Unfortunately I’d left it too late to get to my start pen (near the back) and was shoved into the one of the fast pens at the front, so I didn’t get to run with my training group and spent the whole race being overtaken by faster runners (embarrassing).

I’m not a natural runner and never done anything like this before. But the Women’s Running Network training groups were brilliant. I found the experience very challenging, but equally rewarding and a great experience to see it from a runner’s point of view. I’ve never been so grateful to see a jelly bean in all my life, I think they got me round. But now I can really appreciate the time, commitment and effort that go into the training and the unbelievable feeling you get when you finish. The fact I could only slide down the stairs on my bottom for a few days after the race because my legs were so sore was a small price to pay for such a rewarding experience.

8. Can our runners really beat the £2million pounds raised in 2014 ?
It’s a big ask, I know. But fundraising from the Bath Half has risen every year since we took over the race in 2000. I remember when we set ourselves a target to reach £1 million pounds per year, which seemed like a mountain, then in 2013 we delivered £2 million pounds – 2 years ahead of target, and in a recession year.

This year we are working with a record number of charities, and the charities have sold a record number of places. The British public are renowned the world over for their generosity to giving to good causes, and our Bath Half runners are in the top three fundraisers for road races in the UK – so fingers crossed we’ll be reporting another record year for Bath Half fundraising.