Ever since the ‘Keepers of the Flame’ fan weekend in Oslo in 2011, it has become a tradition for the fan party team to organize a Red Cross charity prize raffle during fan weekends in Oslo.

Each year, Gina van Haperen-Tijnagel has taken the lead in contacting the Red Cross in Oslo, obtaining special locked containers for collecting donations, and returning the containers to the Red Cross after the events.

Dropping off the collected money with the Oslo Red Cross.

Containers for the money collected for the Oslo Red Cross.

Other party team members are involved with raffle ticket sales, keeping an eye on the prizes throughout the event, answering questions from guests and drawing winning numbers.

You might have seen our live posts on Twitter and Instagram about the Red Cross raffle from the fan weekend this past April – and here is the rest of the story!

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Due to a delay in Iceland, my flight into Gardermoen on April 29 landed an hour late, at 13:20. That gave me about 40 minutes to race to The Thief hotel in Oslo to attend a press conference being held by the band at 14:00. I was also meeting Paul, as he’d promised to bring a prize donation for the Red Cross raffle taking place during the fan convention the next day.

Despite my late landing, I had hoped to make it to the hotel in time for at least part of the press conference. I sped to downtown Oslo on the airport express train, then hopped in a cab which took me from Nationaltheatret to The Thief in Tjuvholmen.

Rushed and somewhat out of breath, I arrived in the hotel lobby with hand luggage in tow at 14:20 to discover I had missed the entire press conference. The hotel staff told me that the band had left for an interview with NRK, so I went to my own hotel without having received the prize donation from Paul.

Later that day I heard that Paul had been spotted carrying a copy of the Bridges LP with him at The Thief, and that was my first clue that we’d have at least one seriously awesome prize to help us raise money for the Red Cross this year!

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Photo: Massimiliano Giangolini, contributed via a-ha’s Facebook page

Having missed each other at The Thief, Paul kindly arranged for his sister Tonje to bring the LP to the convention on Saturday, along with a thumb drive containing the ‘Beautiful Burnout’ video.

After a meeting at Samfunnssalen on Friday afternoon to discuss final details before the convention and party, Harald (a-ha’s business manager) and I met over coffee to talk about the fan events and social media coverage of the six Norwegian concerts ahead.

Always ready to support this cause, he promised to contribute a signed ‘Hunting High and Low’ LP and a signed copy of the ‘Take On Me’ Record Store Day 7″ vinyl single for the raffle – however he wasn’t sure when he would have a chance to obtain the signatures on Saturday, so we would have to play it by ear.

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On Saturday afternoon, the guest speakers arrived early for the convention so we could finalize the presentation order before the fans entered the venue. Tonje brought the thumb drive and Bridges LP from Paul, and we saw that he and Magne had signed it; Viggo and Øystein gladly signed the LP as well, and it was given a place of honor among the other Red Cross raffle prizes.

The big prize: a copy of the Bridges album signed by all four band members.

The big prize: a copy of the Bridges album signed by all four band members.

We started out with eight or nine prizes, and along the way more were added. As we announced beforehand, both Nicola Hunt and Chris Hopkins were kind enough to donate extremely rare a-ha related prints from their own collections to help raise money for the Red Cross. In addition, Kirsten Johnson from America brought several LPs to donate, a fan from Scotland contributed a boxed bottle of whiskey, and our two guest fan authors contributed signed copies of their books as well.

Some of the Red Cross charity raffle prizes.

Some of the Red Cross charity raffle prizes.

In the end, we were very fortunate that the signed Bridges album was not the only autographed vinyl available to win in the raffle; I received the signed ‘Hunting High and Low’ album and ‘Take On Me’ single from Harald after the a-ha concert, in time to be added to the prize table during the party.

Raffle tickets were available for purchase throughout the convention and during the first part of the party that night. Party volunteers managed the raffle ticket sales and chose the winning tickets at random.

Fans buying raffle tickets.

Fans buying raffle tickets.

Two big winners in the raffle drawing!

Two big winners in the raffle drawing!

In addition to the raffle tickets sold by Gina and the Red Cross prize team, Gemma also accepted donations towards the Red Cross in exchange for these amazing custom made a-ha cookies – what a creative (and tasty!) way to collect money for the cause!

These a-ha cookies were sold for the charity collection.

These a-ha cookies were sold for the charity collection.

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With so many prizes available, we thought it might take a long time to announce each winning number individually – not to mention we’d have to stop the music during the party and guests would have to stand in place for a while as we went through each prize giveaway. Also in the past we’ve called out numbers and sometimes the winner wasn’t present, requiring us to pull additional numbers – which makes the whole process take a while, when people would like to be dancing and enjoying the party!

So with all this in mind, we tried something new: we put all the winning raffle numbers in a list up on the big screen and made one big prize announcement. The winners came forward to collect their prizes, and we could quickly resume the music, and in a way that was good.

However, some people said later that they expected some kind of build up to the awarding of the big prizes, and that those who won a signed item especially might have liked to have the excitement of hearing their number called and then having their photo taken with their prize. This makes perfect sense, and we are sorry if anyone was disappointed with how the prizes were announced.

Now that we have tried giving out raffle prizes both ways, individually and as a group, we’d love to have feedback from you about which way you’d prefer us to do it in the future:

* Were there perhaps too many prizes?

* Should we only sell raffle tickets during the convention and make the prize announcement at the end, so the winners get their time in the spotlight, and the party is not disrupted by long announcements?

*Is there a way we can include fans worldwide so they can contribute to the Red Cross, and also have a chance to win a prize which would be mailed to them if they are not present?

If you have any feedback from past events or ideas for the future, feel free to contact us.

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We are happy to report that when the donation boxes from the fan events at Samfunnssalen were counted on the following Monday by the Red Cross staff, the amount in these three boxes amounted to kr. 22.713! (about $2,770 USD / €2,452 / £2,2123)

Dropping off the collected money with the Oslo Red Cross.

Gina dropping off the collected money with the Oslo Red Cross.

Thank you to all the party team members for their effort and support for this important cause – and especially to Gina for all the additional time and care she puts into this raffle on behalf of a-ha.com and the fans!

Thank you also to Harald, Paul, Morten, Magne, Viggo, Øystein and Tonje, as well as all of the prize contributors!


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