‘Pitch To Enrich 2’ review!

Last Friday the AXM Foundation held its second official ‘Pitch To Enrich’ event held at one of Manchester’s leading venue’s Bar Pop. The AXM Foundation, created in honour of Hayden Pope has proved to be a success once more following its second event offering to give those a platform who have an idea that could benefit the community, cause, or themselves in some way if they identify as LGBT+ in the Greater Manchester area.

Representing DESTIGMATIZE, a few words of encouragement from myself. Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn

DESTIGMATIZE played its role at the foundation’s first ‘Pitch To Enrich’ event held in local gay village bar New York, New York last October and walked away with £250 from Penny Crayon after we pitched our idea to the foundation and this is something we also viewed as a great opportunity to raise awareness and network with other campaigners.

Panelists – Karen, Misty and Kris ahead of the event. Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn

The second event had some variations from the first Pitch To Enrich, with two brand new panellist’s featuring #StigmaWarrior and our personal favourite drag queen Misty Chance alongside Kris Hague, patron for the AXM Foundation and co-creator of the George House Trust charity fundraiser Tooty Booty. Also on the panel was Trustee for the AXM Foundation and panelist regular Karen Richards. Debbie Roberts also made her Pitch To Enrich hosting debut and provided great humour and gave the pitcher’s plenty of time to speak from their hearts and allowed the panel to give both positive and constructive feedback.

Throughout the evening the foundation had a total of four brave pitcher’s that delivered and exceeded expectations across both the panel and the audience who were all very supportive towards each individual cause.

Stuart, Debbie & Karen posing for the event – Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn

Winning Pitch: Gay Gordons (LGBT Scottish Country Dancing and Ceilidhs group) – Pitched to raise funds for more equipment

Gay Gordan’s celebrating after the results! Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn

Jonathan and Debbie photobombed by Misty and Karen! Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn

Jonathan Blackburn (Photographer) – Pitched to raise funds for photography equipment

The evening was such good fun and a great reminder that the village is a community, together. Whilst I’m lucky enough to work in many of the village establishments, it isn’t just about clubs, alcohol and general debauchery. There’s real potential here too.

Manchester Village Spartans delivering eye candy ahead of their pitch! Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn

Christian from Manchester Village Spartans RUFC (Manchester and Northwest England’s Gay & Inclusive Rugby Union Team) – Pitched to raise money for sports kits

The event was a fantastic opportunity to meet other aspiring LGBT societies and individuals and share stories of our triumphs over the past years. Everyone’s pitch was fantastically presented and made it difficult to vote. But the Gay Gordon’s won after their hard work with their involvement in charity fundraising and presence within Manchester’s community.

A big thank you to AXM for providing this opportunity and looking forward to working with them in the future.

Zak delivering his pitch for Wigan Pride. Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn
Zak Bretherton (Co-Founder and Chair of BYOU+) –Pitched to raise funds for Wigan Pride and raise awareness to smaller LGBT+ communities in small towns

I was apprehensive at first, before agreeing to apply for Pitch to Enrich. I didn’t think anyone would really listen or care about what I had to say. I was applying for Wigan Pride 2017. Why would people out of the borough care? I thought. When I turned up I was nervous but at the same time I felt so comfortable, the best thing about being in that room was all the people around me were passionate about their community, there was no sense of competition because it felt like we were there for each other and I think that was a highlight of the night and what AXM foundation offer. It was the opportunity to network and ask for support in achieving our ambitious visions for the community. The biggest surprise of the night was when we actually won! I’m super grateful for the grant but what meant more to me was that these people barely knew me, they listened and they believed in me and what I’m passionate about. It’s going to sound like a broken record as previous Pitch to Enrich pitcher Junior Maxwell, also spoke about how much it meant for someone to believe in you. That’s exactly what AXM foundation did for us. They believed in us and I recommend to anyone who’s passionate about our community to not only apply but support the AXM foundation.

Misty Chance werking her faux fur ahead of the event, is a lady in need of a drink? Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn
Stuart Donnelly (Chairman) of the foundation had invited myself to represent DESTIGMATIZE and offer a few words of encouragement to help motivate the pitcher’s on the evening.

See the video below if you’d like to hear our little speech!


I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce that Stuart had approached me towards the end of the evening to ask if I’d like to be a part of the Pitch To Enrich team and I happily accepted due to my continuous faith in this foundation. Pitch To Enrich 3 is already in the works and expect an official announcement from the foundation shortly regarding when and where! If you have an idea, a cause, or you want to start up a small business and identify as LGBT+ in the Greater Manchester area, you can either get in contact with Stuart here or if you’d prefer to e-mail myself for more information drop me an e-mail here

I’d like to thank Stuart for giving me another opportunity for allowing me to raise more awareness about HIV stigma through the foundation and I’d also like to thank fellow #StigmaWarrior Callum Payne for accompanying me to the event, you’re a true gem! And also, another #StigmaWarrior, Misty Chance for taking part and believing in me.

See Misty’s #StigmaWarrior interview here

See Callum’s #StigmaWarrior interview here

Myself and Callum Payne. Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn
Myself and Misty Chance. Image Credit: Jonathan Blackburn
We would like to congratulate Gay Gordons on winning the ‘popular vote’ for the evening’s winning pitch but everybody came out a winner anyway! So congratulations to all of you who took part, as I said in my speech, there are no losers, quoting Stuart Donnelly who I know would be happy for me to stress this on his behalf – everybody is a winner!

You can only gain from this great opportunity so I openly encourage all LGBT+ people living within the Greater Manchester area to get involved!

A few words from chairman of the foundation, Stuart Donnelly…

We’re delighted with the support and turn out for our second ‘Pitch To Enrich’. We’re proud of our flagship event which demonstrates exactly where the money raised for the foundation goes. As well as this we’re proud that our community that raises the money can listen, question and vote for where they want the money to go. A massive thank you to John Hamilton and his team for hosting our second event! Thank you to Misty Chance, Chris Hague and our fabulous host Debbie Roberts. On behalf of myself, Karen Richards and Debby Readhead the trustees of the AXM Foundation, we thank everyone for their support. 

To finish up here, here’s a few words from Gay Gordons to summarise their evening;

The Gay Gordons took part in Pitch to Enrich2 as an opportunity to raise some funds to buy some much needed equipment for our display team. It was decided to pitch for a mixing deck to go between our laptop and speakers and enable us to use our microphone at the same time.

The process was easy and the evening was a great success. We had the opportunity to network with other groups from the North West and we have arranged to assist with some fundraising events, plus a new contact with the photographer for some special photos.

The pitching was easy although nerve-wracking, with each pitcher being eased into it by the lovely Debbie. The judges had a chance to speak and ask questions and we, the members of the Gay Gordons were overwhelmed by the favourable response and comments by the judges.

We were pleased to have won the ‘popular’ vote and would like to thank AXM Foundation for giving this opportunity to pitch for some funds and the money has already been used on the equipment.

Finally, if you or organisations are looking for a source of funding then why not contact them directly.

Social Pages (Facebook):

Gay Gordons

Zak Bretherton

Jonathan Blackburn

Manchester Village Spartans RUFC

If you’re interested in taking part in Pitch To Enrich 3, you can either visit the AXM Foundation here, or you can contact myself here. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to chairman of the foundation, Stuart Donnelly – drop him an e-mail here

That’s all from me today, see you at the next event! #PitchToEnrich3