Coronavirus: Cancelled Cambridge ball refunds given to charity

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University of CambridgeImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
May Balls typically celebrate the end of term after exams

Refunds from cancelled Cambridge University end-of-term balls are being donated to help tackle coronavirus.

Tickets to attend one of the university's May Balls can cost hundreds of pounds, and students have organised a "refundraising" campaign.

Co-organiser Jade Charles, a languages final year, called it a "simple idea to raise a lot of money, given that it's money that's already been spent".

So far £22,000 has been donated to the Big May Ball Appeal for Coronavirus.

The funds raised will go to the charity for the city's Addenbrooke's Hospital and The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.

Ms Charles, 22, said that after reading emails that May Balls had been cancelled, she thought "how can I make this something positive?"

Image source, Jade Charles
Image caption,
Jade Charles at Trinity College May Ball in 2019

She contacted fellow student Zehn Mehmood and the pair carried out a survey, which found more than two-thirds of students would support donating.

It now means when money is refunded students are given information on how to donate to the campaign.

Ms Charles said that they had been "amazed at the generosity at this difficult time", including one Trinity College ticket holder who had given all of their £430 two-person ticket to the cause.

Image source, Zehn Mehmood
Image caption,
Zehn Mehmood and the team have the organised the campaign from home and online

Chemical engineering student Mr Mehmood, 21, acknowledged that May Balls can be "seen by some as a very elitist thing".

But he added: "Already we've raised £22,000 in the first four weeks [of the campaign]... it shows that Cambridge students do care as well and they're willing to part with their cash, particularly in this hard time."

The campaign has also received support from the university's vice-chancellor, Prof Stephen Toope, who called it "a great idea".

"It's an example of students taking a bad situation and making something good come of it. Or, to borrow a phrase, turning lemons into lemonade."

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