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Flashback to Bee in the City

16 August 2019

Last summer we welcomed the Bee in the City arts trail to Manchester, including our very own Waggle Dance Bee. This interactive arts trail organised by Wild in Art turned Manchester into a hive of activity, with its 50 mile route featuring 232 unique bee sculptures designed by artists, local businesses and greater Manchester school children.

Designed and decorated by the wonderfully talented, Judith Berrill, our Waggle Dance Bee  was inspired by bees and their co-operative way of working, a quality that reflects our own values, as we harness the power of 'we' to make a positive difference to the lives of our customers and their communities.

Over 3 million people followed the Bee trail throughout Greater Manchester, with over 24 million steps recorded in the Bee in the City app. Plus, nearly 3000 of you used the exclusive Snapchat geo-filter we created for our Bee, which was situated outside of our head office. Excitement certainly was buzzing, and we loved seeing and sharing all of your bee-rilliant selfies!

As well as providing much fun and merriment last summer, Bee in the City raised important funds for the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s We Love MCR charity. At the end of the event all the Bee sculptures were auctioned off, raising over £1.1m for the We Love MCR Stronger Communities Fund. This fund is for community groups across Manchester who can apply for up to £2,000 of funding for initiatives in their area that will bring people together and celebrate diversity. We Love MCR also supports young Mancunians with learning the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to succeed.

On the night our very own Waggle Dance Bee was given a new home by Jonathan Twentyman, a local business owner. We caught up with him to find out what attracted him to our Bee, and why he felt it was important to get involved with the fundraising auction.

Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Jonathan Twentyman, a Greater Manchester-based entrepreneur and owner of commercial mechanical and electrical firm, Genlec. I was raised in Leigh, which is where our head office remains to this day since we launched 30 years ago. I’m passionate about supporting the local community and economy, and am proud to be recognised as a large local employer.

As a major employer in Manchester and the North West of England, we’re committed to playing our part in the communities we serve. How important is supporting the North West community to you?

Supporting the local community is incredibly important me, both as an individual and through the business. Creating long-term sustainable employment opportunities has been integral to my business throughout the past three decades, and today we employ approximately 50 full time members of staff.

I’m very much a hands on person and don’t believe in waiting for others to get things done when I feel I can make a positive impact myself!

After attending the Farewell Weekend you successfully bid for our Waggle Dance Bee at the charity auction, can you tell us a little about the evening? and why you got involved?

The event itself was brilliant. It was great to see Manchester’s business community come together through a united cause. Supporting and giving back in, what is most definitely, a very unique but wonderful way! The Waggle Dance Bee was the third I bought that night, all of the bees are fantastic pieces of art, whilst the wider initiative is a brilliant one that supports a very worthy cause.

I heard about the event and its aims on the radio, and signed up to the auction. I pretty much knew that I was going to go for one of the bees on the night, I didn’t think I was going to buy three though! They’ve all found their home in the garden amongst the trees and wildlife and are a fantastic addition to the outside space in our home.

Thank you for your time Jonathan, and thank you to everyone who took part in the trail, we were delighted to be involved!


If you’re a charity or community group and would like to apply for funding from We Love MCR, you can find all the details on their website here.

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