Running with a Travel Retail Smile on his face

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

One of the first of our readers to take up the invitation to create ‘Travel Retail’s 5,000 Smiles’* was Phil Burdekin, our trusty (and, given The Moodie Report’s travel schedule) overworked travel consultant at Flight Centre in London.

Phil read about the ‘Turning Tears into Smiles’ dinner in Hong Kong to raise funds for leading children’s cleft charity The Smile Train. And he, like many, was particularly moved by news of the speech at that dinner of young Chinese teenager Wang Li (pictured below pre and post operation), the first patient in China funded by The Smile Train.


As a result, Phil has decided to do what all good travel agents do – cover a lot of miles. But he’s doing it with a difference – he’s running them.  Over 26 of them in fact, for Phil has entered the Paris marathon on 6 April and is donating all the sponsorship he attracts to The Smile Train. For a man with a self-confessed hatred of running (we’ve heard he’s quite sceptical about walking on some occasions), that’s some challenge.

In a note to his friends, colleagues and clients, Phil noted: “Imagine the difficulty of living your life being stared at, picked on and bullied. This was the life Wang Li  lived… for every £125 (US$250) I raise, a child like Wang Li will have her life changed.

“It’s easy to sponsor me and takes just a couple of minutes. Simply go to my weblink:

* Travel Retail’s 5,000 Smiles is an ongoing programme that continues the work started by ‘Turning Tears into Smiles in 2007’, co-organised with Hugo Boss, which funded around 1,400 cleft operations for children.

Instead of fund-raising being centered around a single event we’re asking companies and individuals in and related to the travel retail industry to organise activities at various levels, big and small, to help raise funds for a further 5,000 operations. We’ll return in 2009 with another major charity dinner for The Smile Train.

Already a number of initiatives have been launched. These include:

* The ACI Airport Business & Trinity Forum (in Shanghai) will make a substantial donation to The Smile Train China

* The Airline Retail Conference in the UK in July will do likewise;

* UK travel retail training specialist TRT has made The Smile Train its official charity and is organising an innovative fund-raiser at the annual ISPY Awards in London later this month (details soon);

* The Moodie Report has made the programme its long-term charity and will donate a substantial amount each year;

* Very soon we will be unveiling a high profile initiative with one of the world’s leading brand companies.

In the meantime though, there’s a marathon to be run, in Paris no less. Allez Phil!

[Footnote: If you want to support Phil Burdekin’s run please log onto or e-mail him at If you would like to support Travel Retail’s 5,000 Smiles please e-mail the writer at]

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