Record payout at first ‘Soup’ pitch contest at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield

From left: Sheffield Soup director Jonny Douglas andfounder Pennie Raven, winner Clare Rishbeth of Cycling Without Age and runner up Gina Walters of Neighbourhood Voices. Nelly Naylor Photography.
From left: Sheffield Soup director Jonny Douglas andfounder Pennie Raven, winner Clare Rishbeth of Cycling Without Age and runner up Gina Walters of Neighbourhood Voices. Nelly Naylor Photography.

A record-breaking pot up was up for grabs at this week’s Sheffield Soup business pitching contest, held for the first time at The Crucible.

Four finalists, from among the 16 initial applicants, presented their socially-minded projects to 163 members of the audience who had paid a minimum donation of  £5 to attend the event and act as judges.  

The winner, Clare Rishbeth of Cycling Without Age, went home with the door takings, which on the night were £936.

This was boosted by further donations to take the winners’ pot to £1,006. An anonymous donor then pledged 50 per cent of the total as a prize for the runner-up: Gina Walters of the Neighbourhood Voices choir.

Founder Pennie Raven said the new location gave them a huge publicity boost and took the event to a whole new level.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw the queue stretching out through the door - especially as we only had 73 people registered the day before," she said.

Winner Clare wants to buy three-wheel rickshaws to give care home residents a ride around nearby parks.

The aim is to provide a time of ‘social connection, contact with nature, the stimulation of being out and about, and an experience to talk about for the rest of the week’.  

Each bike costs £8,000 and the prize money plus the backing of people at the event will help them secure further funding.

Neighbourhood Voices organiser Gina Walters will use the money to produce an EP record at a Sheffield recording studio of the choir's members and film and photograph the session. 

She said: “Documenting what these women have achieved with me over the past year will be such a huge step for us as a choir while giving members an exciting musical experience and something  they can be incredibly proud to share with friends and family.”

Set up in 2015, Sheffield Soup has now been held 14 times. It will be staged in the Crucible four times a year, plus three social events. The entry fee includes a vote, free raffle and homemade soup.

Dan Bates, chief executive of Sheffield Theatres, said he wanted to support the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“We hope that being here will enable more people to come along.”

www.sheffieldsoup.com