Here it is the annual Mr and Mrs photo from Alexander's Charity Ball !!!
What an absolutely perfect night, all that planning and organising comes down to one night, a night that is nerve wracking in the build up but this year I was full of confidence that we would, once again, have a success on our hands.
So we start with room set up and this year we were lucky enough (thankfully) to be able to get into New Dock Hall on Friday to start the massive task of putting on 515 chair covers and bows! Once again this isn't possible without Sam, Karen and their fabulous team at Glamourpuss Weddings along with a little help from the Big Ball Central crew!
Kieron at Giant Events was also hard at work in the room setting up the fabulous Event Books which I have to say added the most unique element to the night, these books are Kieron's baby, designed and built by him they can be personalised perfectly to your event. I loved the turning pages and the fact that the content changed running alongside the event.
Saturday was spent in a haze of balloons and ribbon for perfectionist Sam whilst the rest of us either curled said ribbon, sprinkled table diamonds, lit centrepieces and generally prettied the room whilst lighting, projection and sound engineers worked to make the room glow like the Winter Wonderland we wanted.
I had my orders to be back in the room to brief everyone by 5.45, The Vegas Girls were in position feathers on and sequins glowing, the band was sound checked and the brilliant Ian Royce was all set and ready to go.
The doors were opened, drinks were poured and the the reception was filling up pretty quickly! Flitting in and out of the rooms I did manage to say Hi to a few people although not nearly as many as I would've liked but then the nerves really started to kick in and I found a quiet corner in the main room to take a few breaths. Joined by 'Roycey' we chatted and he really took my mind off things making me laugh and making me swoon by dropping in the fact he'd had an email from Gary Barlow the day before ... Imagine, 'The Captain' actually emailed him !!!
Ian is a genuinely lovely man who, without knowing me, agreed to spare his precious time to host the ball for nothing. It was just a casual mention on twitter that had him doing his damnedest, despite a busy Britain's Got Talent Schedule, to be there for us. I'm so so glad he did what a superb addition to the night he was and his generous donation to the auction saw it raise £4000 as well as another £6000 through our other lots.
Mark Waddington joined us again this year to blow our minds with his Close up magic and he was joined by Marc Lavelle to help him along as the attendance was so big. I know they were a huge hit with those they managed to see judging by the cheers and hollers from around the room!
This year I wanted to add a surprise element to the night with the addition of Singing waiters. Provided by Dave Molloy at Events Line the girls certainly had everyone fooled and had the room up and on their feet during a break in the casino and auction. I'm extremely grateful to Dave for helping us out and if you need to add a surprise element to your event the Singing Waiters are perfect
The Fabulous Vegas Girls were ever present and did a superb job in getting everyone to their casino tables on time, our table was appalling and lost all our cash within 2 spins however our highest rolling table did fabulously and bagged themselves the £500 cash prize. The Vegas Girls are always on duty and professional and I think will be a regular addition to our event from now on, I've seen some brilliant pictures of them with guests and am gutted I didn't take the opportunity to have my picture taken with them. Massive Thanks again to all the girls for their hard work.
And so the night continued with the raffle and Auction led perfectly by 'Roycey' he kept the whole room involved and encouraging lots of bids, we made more on our auction this year than we did at our first event back in 2010! I was left speechless at the amounts and I'd like to say Thank You to everyone who donated an auction lot to us.
During the night I do like to take a moment, stand back and look at what we managed to achieve and it is helped along by a select few. As I do a little wander and try to talk to most tables every year the same people stop me and allow me that time, without them I wouldn't take the chance so Thanks to them.
It was dancing time with the fantastic Vibetown as our band for the night they sang their socks (and our shoes) off, for the rest of the night the dancefloor was jam packed, it was absolutely brilliant and I loved that they were even taking requests at one point due to heckling from the front.
All too soon the DJ was calling time at the bar and the night was drawing to a close the night had gone unbelievably fast, 7 hours had gone in the blink of an eye and all that was left to do was count up to our total.
Alexander's Charity Ball 2014 was a resounding success we raised over £27,000 for The Lullaby Trust but none of it would be possible without the generosity of sponsors and prize donators. The more successful the ball becomes the more we need the help of sponsors. Glamourpuss, Who Ate My Crayons and Giant Events donated their time, expertise and contacts for nothing which allowed the night to grow but we also couldn't put our ideas into practice without the help of our cash sponsors Stephen Crowther Associates, Coda Studios, Bapp Group, IT@Spectrum, Lancaster Property Services and of course New Dock Hall.
Thank You everyone involved in any way you are helping me to create an amazing legacy for my little star, I hope that we are able to continue making Alexander's Charity Ball a success with your help. It's not easy putting myself out there time and again, telling Alexander's story over and over but I know that it is more than worth it for the good it will do and the people it will help through The Lullaby Trust.
Tell me about your night, what you enjoyed, how you felt it went and share your pictures with us over on Facebook
See You Next Year !!!!!
So Saturday came about pretty quickly and everything was quickly being ticked off the to do list, everything that is except the speech! This is the latest I've ever left it and the most nervous I've felt, there would be 515 people in that room and I had to do my best to articulate what I wanted to say without sending people to sleep or choking myself up so much I couldn't speak.
Phew the nerves were bad and the clock was ticking but spending time with the genius that is Ian Royce, our host, before everyone came in eased them a little and he made me laugh a lot, I'd happily spend a whole day in his company just people watching.
So here it is the speech I made on Saturday at Alexander's Charity Ball 2014
Wow! How amazing to see so many of you here for our fourth Alexander's Charity Ball.
New Location which looks stunning, New Charity Name (do we like?) and a New Logo but all for the same fabulous cause as before, the reason hasn't changed.
There are so many people I need to Thank for tonight so here goes...
Thank You to Sam and The Glamourpuss Weddings Team the room looks beautiful. 515 Chair covers and Bows plus 600 balloons is no mean feat I promise no balloons next time, I'll run all bright ideas past you !!!!
Kieron and The Giant Event Management Team. Kieron asked me not to say anything about him in my speech but how could I not? I've never been as calm in the lead up to an event and it's Thanks to you as I know things are in safe hands this year. I think I've spoken to you more this week than I have my own husband.
To all our helpers yesterday and today Thank You and a special Thanks goes to Hayley, Phil and Steph for all their help every year my Big Ball Crew. Special Thanks to Claire and Amy for their hard work with the raffle this year that was a massive job for me previously I know it's not easy to do, I'm glad I didn't have to do it!
Much of what we've achieved tonight isn't possible without sponsorship, we have a few in attendance tonight. A huge Thanks for your generosity and you can find another Thanks in the brochure.
Tonight the CEO from The Lullaby Trust has joined us and it's great to see Francine here so she can see in person how brilliant tonight is and how generous you all are.
I can't forget my boys and Ian Thank You always for your support.
Finally a Thank You to you for coming, buying tickets and making the effort to get here,sometimes against all the odds as the weather has not been on our side this year.
Seven years ago I was planning my son's funeral, something a world away from tonight and something no family should ever ever have to do.
There are no words to describe the pain of losing a child and the devastating effect it has on a family. Tonight is about raising as much as we can to help those families who find themselves in the same sad position we did 7 years ago and with the ongoing hope that one day we can stop SIDS in it's tracks.
Thank You and Have an Amazing Night
Well that's what I wrote and intended to say, much of it I added too and some I changed as I was saying it but that's the general gist of things. It's not easy to stand up in a room full of people ready to party and remind them why they are there, especially when that reason makes your own heart ache on a daily basis.
Shamefully I missed out a public Thank You to Ian Royce who donated his time for nothing to be with us on Saturday and who was brilliant as a host, my cheeks hurt from laughing so much. Ian is a genuinely brilliant, funny and kind person, he surprised us with a very generous addition to our auction which boosted our total to amazing proportions. I've said Thank You numerous times but it doesn't really convey how I feel Ian x
I shall blog about the evening itself this week but I don't need to say how fabulous our total is at £27,203 this will change a little as there is still a bit to come through but I am speechless and there are no words to describe how that makes me feel.
A Huge Thanks to everyone who contributed to our night no matter how small you think it was look what you helped us achieve
That date !
The date permanently in my memory bank, one I will never forget alongside my children's birthdays this date is the date of my son's death.
It's such an insignificant date, nothing important, not to us anyway before 2007.
I can tell you exactly where I was on that date, what I did and when and how that date made me feel. I'd give anything for it to be insignificant again, for it not to be important, for it to be just another day.
In some ways it feels like only days since Alexander died and in others it feels like an eternity we've been without him. I look at how the boys are growing up and I feel cheated for him, what would he be like now?
The date is a hard one What do we do? How do we mark the day? This year as we always try too, we will do something together as a family. Joe has chosen the cinema for us we are off to see The Lego Movie!
I'm thankful for the time I've had with my brilliant boys and the time I will continue to have, there are lots of changes happening within our family as the boys grow and take their exams, look at their future and the careers they'd like and of course Joe starts school in September, the last to go apart from his big brother who will never get the chance.
As the weeks count down to this day it's hard to know the right way to mark it but we take flowers to our darling boy and light candles for him. He is our shining star and has been for 7 years.
7 years ago I remember the lost looks in friends and families eyes as they so desperately wanted to help, to take away the pain not knowing how to express their sadness. Thank You each and every one of you for your support and understanding at that time and since, just being there and letting us talk was enough.
I will love you forever Alexander Robert Richardson, know that you will hold a piece of my heart for eternity. We will never forget you, you are our angel, our star in the sky and I was so privileged to have held your hand on earth for the short time you were here.
Welcome to our blog I will try as regularly as I can to keep you up to date with The Ball, The Charity and any other news !