The first and most important point I would like to make before this article even begins is to clarify that I am not a Tory. Having Boris Johnson’s name tattooed on my right bum cheek is in no way a celebration of his political views, thoughts or ideas, or a reflection of mine. If anything, I hate the man – which in fairness is probably one of the reasons this fundraiser was so successful.
Hello, my name is Imogen, I’m 21 years old and I study Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh… and yes, I did get Boris Johnson’s name tattooed on my arse. I’ll take you through exactly how and why from the beginning. It all started about a week before my 20th birthday back in May of 2020. This was at the peak of the first lockdown, at the time where we couldn’t even see friends outside of our household one-on-one, and outdoor exercise was limited to one hour a day. All my uni exams had been cancelled, everywhere was closed, and I was generally feeling a bit bored, lonely and defeated as many of us were at that time. I couldn’t see any of my friends for my birthday, from university or from my hometown of Doncaster, and as a self-proclaimed social butterfly, I still wanted to do something to bring my friends together and have a wee celebration.
So, amongst Zoom quizzes and Among Us games, a fundraiser for NHS Charities Together was started on Facebook. The aim was simple; my friends would donate the same cost of the pint they would have bought on my birthday night out, and nobody would be out of pocket really because literally every outing you could think of was cancelled. Donations slowly trickled in, and I thought I might as well up the ante. Then, £400 later and my barnet and eyebrows had been bleached and dyed blue, onions had been consumed whole, and TikTok dances had been practiced and posted online. However, it wasn’t enough; I could do more. Which is when I received a message from one of my best friends from sixth form, Brock. He suggested that I get Boris Johnson’s face tattooed on my arm, to which I responded something like, ‘absolutely not, but I will get his name tattooed on my right bum cheek if we make £1k’. Then that was it. The donations were flying in, everyone was sharing their page, begging their friends who I didn’t even know to donate to my fundraiser just to see a 20-year-old from a mining town in the north of England brandished by the name of one of her least favourite right-wing politicians. For my first tattoo as well I might add.
Long story short, in a matter of days, we’d smashed past £1500, resulting in £1614 raised in total for the charity. NHS charities together honestly just felt like the obvious choice of organisation to raise money for at the time; we were all still getting on our doorstep every Thursday to clap for our NHS and carers in an act of performatism led by Boris himself, which felt like a bit of a slap in the face when NHS workers on the front line are still underpaid and overworked. I really wanted to do something that might actually make a tangible difference.
The reactions were mixed honestly, with one of the best coming from the tattoo artist who thought it was genuinely hilarious and told me to my face it wasn’t that weird, which was evidently not true as he then went on to tell my friend that it was indeed one of the weirder tattoos he’s ever done. His tattoo work is honestly brilliant, and the thought of a well-established insanely talented artist taking the time out of his life to tattoo ‘Boris Johnson’ in a squiggly typewriter font on my arse still makes me giggle to this day. My mum’s reaction was also quite good – she waited until after the fundraiser had already surpassed £1k to donate to it, saying this meant she actually had no part in causing the ‘ridiculous’ tattoo… although she absolutely now brags to her friends about what a fundraising powerhouse her daughter is.
Speaking of which, I would 100% do something like this again. First of all, it’s just funny, and an excellent conversation starter. I now will always have a brilliant ‘fun fact about myself’ in any icebreaker going forward, and if I ever go on an episode of would I lie to you, it will make for an excellent back-and-forth between myself and David Mitchell/Lee Mack. But on a serious note, the amount of money we raised for charity was a bit mad, and I could not be more grateful to anyone who donated. I would probably not do another ‘tattoo based’ fundraiser again, as I would never want to diminish this one, but I would absolutely do another silly fundraiser that is to my own detriment – that is the key to a successful fundraiser really: a cause that makes a real and important change to the world, and a willingness to make yourself look a bit silly. I really think if you’re considering doing something similar, just do it- that shaved head will grow back, that tattoo can stay covered (except for at family trips to the beach- sorry grandad), and just think about the impact you might be able to have.
So, if you found this story funny or inspiring in any way, please consider donating to NHS Charities Together. My fundraiser is no longer live, but you are always able to make donations directly through their website. Additionally, if you are interested in following more of my fundraising shenanigans, I am about to participate in the Ration Challenge for Concern Worldwide, details of which can be found at my fundraising link (https://www.rationchallenge.org.uk/imogen-challen).