Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign and editor of Media Week
Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign and editor of Media Week
A view from Arif Durrani

Arif Durrani: Reflection as well as celebration at Nabs' Big Bash

It was a night of mixed emotions at the Nabs Big Bash last week. More than 1,000 people gathered to support the charity's glittering annual fundraiser at Battersea Evolution, in what also formed the focal point of its centenary celebrations. But it was the one person who was not present who remained top of mind for many.

The untimely death of Sky Media’s Nick Milligan, known affectionately as Milly, continues to resonate deeply. The night began with a personal tribute from BSkyB’s chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, which silenced and united the room.  

"How do you follow that?" the entertainer Rory Bremner noted wryly. It is a testament to the industry, led by the night’s "auctioneer" and new chairman of Havas Media, Marc Mendoza, that a record amount nearing £200,000 was raised through prizes donated by agencies and media owners. Mendoza had known Nick for more than 25 years, and the last thing he felt like doing at the start of the evening was standing on a stage for three hours. But, as many people commented, it felt appropriate that Nabs provided the backdrop for the first major industry gathering since Nick’s passing.

'A personal tribute to Nick Milligan from BSkyB’s chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, silenced and united the room'

Established in 1913 to provide comfort and support for those working in advertising and media, Nabs is funded entirely by voluntary donations from those in ad-related businesses. It is the industry looking after itself. This year, the Daily Mail and General Trust chairman, Lord Rothermere, has matched the donation of his forefather Lord Northcliffe, who had helped establish the charity with a donation of 1,000 guineas, equivalent to £127,000 today.

The landmark Big Bash also recognised the next generation of "a few remarkable people", dubbed Centurions, identified as the young, unsung heroes working in companies today.

Full credit must go to Zoe Osmond and her team at Nabs for a night that still managed to provide joy and comfort to many, and reminded us all that having a support network is sometimes invaluable.