IT firm launches virtual balloon race for Prince Harry's charity using realistic weather simulator
PRINCE Harry’s favoured charity is the latest to sign up to an innovative fundraising venture with a Bolton IT firm.
As Harry completes a 200-mile walk across the South Pole in November alongside injured troops, Walking With The Wounded will be set to profit from a very different event in the skies above the Antarctic — a virtual balloon race.
Purepages Ltd, based in Church Bank, in the town centre, has run several of the races online, with entrants buying balloons which are “released” from different locations around the world.
The winner is the person whose virtual balloon travels the largest distance across the globe — in a real-time online computer simulation — while all proceeds go to whichever charity is sponsoring the race.
Purepages managing director Mike Phillips said the races have proved a huge hit since being created five years ago, with the software uncannily simulating real-life weather conditions. And the virtual races use no materials that can harm the environment – unlike latex balloons.
Helium-filled balloons have been responsible for a number of deaths to sea birds, turtles and other animals, when they come back down to earth.
Mr Phillips, aged 64, from Edgworth, said: “All UK eco-charities are urging the government to ban latex balloons for fundraising purposes, so we’re pleased to offer a virtual experience instead.
“Users can change the helium content and pressure in their balloon 24/7 before a race which means tactics can come into play.”
The seven-day race begins on December 1, just after Harry’s trek ends, and participants can monitor the progress of their balloon throughout.
Mr Phillips added that the computer game scenario has been a hit with children, with small primary schools raising thousands of pounds through balloon selling in the past.
Walking With The Wounded retrain, re-educate and provide rehabilitation for wounded British servicemen and women.
The charity’s co-founder Ed Parker said: “The virtual balloon race is a fantastic way for Walking with the Wounded to fundraise. It is great fun for everyone and will have great relevance, coinciding with our own race to the South Pole between teams of wounded personnel.” Buy a £3 balloon at rabr.com/wwtw.
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