40 Hours of 40K is an annual charity event raising money for a great cause. James “One_Wing” Grover found out about the event when he met Andrew Weller, its founder and organiser, at last year’s London Grand Tournament. With this year’s extravaganza coming up on the 24th and 25th of September, he sat down with Andrew to find out more.
You can donate 40 Hours of 40K, or find out more about it, at the following links:
There’s also a full list of the artists who have contributed to the charity auction at the end of this article.
40 Hours of 40K is hosted at Imps Gaming.
Read on below for the interview.
Content Note: This event raises money for a mental health charity, so this interview contains discussion of mental health and suicide.
Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me today Andrew. First up, tell us a little bit about yourself – how long have you been involved in the hobby, and how did you first get started?
I’m a 36-year old father of three, a survivor of depression and PTSD and a genuine Warhammer hero, with my name up in Bugman’s bar and everything. I first got started with the Bretonnian and Lizardmen fantasy starter box – a friend wanted someone to play against and offered me the Bretonnians, and I thought that sounded like a great idea.
I remember that box, that was just about when I was starting too. You got quite a lot of stuff in it!
Yeah, it wasn’t as packed as the modern ones, but the Knights were really awesome and I had a great time with them.
So when did you move across to 40K?
I dallied with it a bit in 1998 with some Blood Angels, but I really got started in 2009, again because a friend suggested I try it out. I thought it seemed worth a shot and asked what was easy to paint and chose Tau – and everyone has hated me since!
James: At least you stayed loyal to the Tau even in the early parts of 9th when they were having a rough time – maybe people were a bit more forgiving then!
Andrew: Yeah, but it’s always fun when you pull things off when your army isn’t on top – like when my Kroot hounds ate your Wyches.
James: How could I forget! Anyway, let’s move on and talk about the event itself. To begin with, where did the idea for the event come from, and how did it get started?
Andrew: It’s not a positive story sadly – it came out of being in the armed forces and seeing too many veterans take their own lives. There’s this real stigma that you can’t talk about mental health issues, and I think that’s a big part of the problem. I’ve suffered from PTSD, and still have difficult patches sometimes, but I’ve been able to build up coping strategies, and wanted to make sure others get the help they need to do the same. That has to start with helping people talk about their challenges, and I wanted to find a way to support a charity that did that, and chose the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).
James: That chimes a lot with my experience – I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for parts of my life, and it sometimes seems impossible to find a way to manage it till you open up to someone.
Andrew: Exactly! I think one of the most important things is to let people know that they’re not weird or weak because they’re struggling. Part of why I run the event is to raise a banner to say “this is normal, you’re not alone, and there are always people you can talk to”. When you do that, people flock to that banner and you find out just how many caring and generous individuals there are in your community, ready to help when needed. Part of what I like about CALM is how honest and upfront they are about the realities of mental health – it’s a real problem that can end or ruin lives, and it needs to be taken seriously.
James: That’s a good opportunity to talk a bit more about CALM – how did you pick them, and what do they do?
Andrew: The honest answer is that I googled “suicide prevention hotline” and picked the first non-sponsored link, but it turned out to be a great choice. They’re on the same page about how important talking to someone can be as an intervention, and have done especially good work in highlighting that men are disproportionately likely to commit suicide, something that’s often not talked about. Initially their helpline was specifically aimed at supporting men, but over time both their work to include everyone, because mental health is an issue that can affect anyone. The crisis support they provide also makes a really tangible impact. They receive an average of 200 calls on this a day, so every hour that your donations keep it open can save lives.
James: So how much have you raised for them so far?
Andrew: We raised £4.5K in the first year, but that quickly grew in the subsequent years, and we’ve now donated £24K in total. I’ve had some fantastic chats with my contacts at CALM, and they really appreciate the contribution the community makes here. I also think it’s very important to highlight that this is purely a charity event – no one is making any money off this, all the raffle prizes are pure donations, even the ones where some of our painters have put in months of work. Everyone does it purely because they want to help people.
James: That’s an amazing total – well done to everyone. What can people expect when they tune in this year?
Andrew: The clue is in the name – 40 hours of streamed, live 40k, featuring three hour rounds of different armies and different players from all over the hobby, and with interactive chat so you can get involved at home. When you donate money, you get to put in a request to shake things up in the game, whether obliterating a unit you don’t like or handing someone extra command points when they’re down. We’re still waiting on final confirmation from a few people, but we should have lots of familiar faces along from groups like Twisted Dice, Honest Wargamer and Glasshammer.
James: So what you’re saying is that if people really want to sabotage the best players in the UK, live on stream, this is their chance?
Andrew: Exactly! And it’s even better when all the money goes straight to CALM.
James: What sort of games are featured? Are we talking matched play, narrative missions?
Andrew: It’s mostly matched play just because that’s easiest for everyone to get involved with and for viewers to understand what’s going on. This year we might give Tempest of War a try, as it should give lots of opportunity for people to get involved.
James: What else features on the stream?
Andrew: The other big part of the stream is the charity raffle. You can buy a ticket for £5 from the JustGiving page, and that gets you a chance to win some incredible prizes that have been donated by the community. The centrepiece this year is a 2500pt Thousand Sons army that’s been put together by painters from Red Eagle Studio and other contributors from Instagram. You also get the fun of watching me draw the raffle after being awake for forty hours straight, which is apparently a highlight!
James: CALM are fantastic and it’s a great charity to support. I have to ask the next question – how on earth did you come up with 40 Hours of 40K as the way to raise money?
Andrew: The secret of a good charity drive is that you have to promise to do something that people don’t want to do themselves. I’ve got stubby legs so I can’t run a marathon, but what I can do is play forty solid hours of 40K.
James: I’ll admit that much as I love the game, that does sound pretty gruelling.
Andrew: It definitely is, but the support we get from the community really makes it work. I’d originally been planning on running something in my kitchen, but I mentioned the idea to Ian and Phil at Imps Gaming in Lincoln, and they just asked how much space I needed for the weekend! Having access to a gaming store to run the event in makes a huge difference, as it’s far easier for people to drop in and out, and each year to be bigger than the last.
James: So this year’s is going to be the best yet then?
Andrew: Yes – the difference this year is in the scale of support we’re getting from the community, both in terms of the prizes that we have for the raffle and how professional we’re going to be able to make the stream. We’ve got a total of thirty artists who’ve contributed miniatures to either the Thousand Sons army or as individual prizes, and we’re going to have experienced guest commentators dropping into the stream to cover some of the games. I’m thrilled by how many people have poured their time and money into making this something special, and I only wish I could thank them more.
James: That’s amazing stuff, and I’ll include a list of artists who have contributed in the article (see below). I’m planning to try and make it down to play some games on the stream myself, and that takes us to the last key question – how can people find out more, get involved, or contribute to the charity?
Andrew: You can find out more on our Facebook and Instagram pages, and you can donate via the Just Giving page. Also, if you’re free, come down to the store on the day and play a game – there’s loads of space, and the Imps team are incredibly welcoming people who just give and give and give.
James: Great stuff, and I hope to see you there. Anything else you want to finish on?
Andrew: I just want to say once more how great it is that you can find support for events like this in our community. We’re united by a shared interest that cuts across lots of boundaries, and that helps us find friendships and connections with people we might not otherwise have met, whether it’s by playing a game against someone at a tournament, or admiring a beautiful army and asking the owner how they painted it. Those connections can be a lifeline one day, and I want to stand on the rooftops, raise that banner and shout out to anyone who thinks there’s no one who cares about them “fuck mental health, there are people in this hobby who will support you”.
James: Thanks again for talking to me today, it’s been a fantastic conversation, and I hope the event goes off spectacularly.
Thirty artists have contributed to the prizes for the charity raffle this year. They are:
Robert “sanga” Edwards
And one last time, if you want to donate to this fantastic cause, the Just Giving page is here.