Can I just say a massive Thank You to everyone for their fabulous words of encouragement and excitement for the £100k challenge (as I've decided to call it)
I'm under no illusion that this is going to be easy and it is not going to happen at all without help ...lots of it!
There are lots of ideas about what we can do to raise this money but I need to really commit to something every month so instead of doing 10 challenges or fundraisers in the year September 2014 to September 2015 I think we need to think a little bit bigger and go for 1 a month (or more).
Obviously we already have some fundraisers in place in some months however if you would like to host a fundraiser yourself as part of our cause I'd be very grateful or if you are holding any fundraisers would you consider our cause to be the one you collect for? If you own your own business or work for a company could we be your chosen charity for a year? I am on with this one myself and even a collection box on a counter would make a huge difference to our total.
We need to kick start the year with something that will get our awareness up as well as getting people donating and I've seen the power of social media so had thought that maybe we could instigate a 'selfie' campaign such as 'A Selfie for SIDS' I know this has been done but it was so well received and was such a boost for the charities involved I'd love to give it a try and see how well we can spread the word.
So ideas on the table for fundraising are as follows:
Alexander's Charity Ball 2015
A Great Big 'Northern' Mile in Memory
Great North Run 2015
A Family Fun Day
A Cycling Challenge - Possibly Tower to Tower or Lands End to John O'Groats this is being handed over to those in the know !
Ladies Vintage Tea/Champagne Party
The Teens are looking into organising their own Football Tournament
Supermarket Bag Packing
Tough Mudder (Or equivalent without the electric shock)
Abseil down the Humber Bridge or other appropriate Yorkshire Landmark)
Collections at local Yorkshire Football and Rugby Grounds
Creating Children's PJ's or a T-shirt with a percentage of donations going to The Lullaby Trust and the £100k challenge
I'd welcome any and all ideas if you'd like to share yours or if you think you could help organise, sponsor, run or volunteer I'd love to hear from you. Any bloggers wishing to help also would be fabulous I know what a great bunch of people you are and I'd love to work with you to keep this going.
Please share the challenge if you can I need to keep the momentum going for the year and the more people on board the better the response will be.
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 !!!!!
This post has been a long time in writing, it's one thing to share my story but another one completely to put into words the heartbreak of another.
On Saturday 2nd February Jennie Edspire and her family's lives were devastated when little Matilda Mae never woke from her sleep. A week away from Alexander's 6th anniversary it was a heartbreaking reminder of that time for us.
The very close world of Mummy Bloggers was rocked to the core as they found out this devastating news and I was contacted by a few who know me and my story to ask me to reach out to Jennie, I was more than happy to do so. I'm not a blogger but I follow a few, I love reading other people's hints and tips, recipes, life stories and Jennie's story and words since this tragedy happened have been so heartbreakingly close to my experience I wanted to share her blog link so you can see her journey.
Jennie hasn't held back in the telling of Matilda Mae's story but she writes with such honesty and emotion you have to admire her strength and courage. Many would hide away from the world, shut themselves off to grieve privately but in telling her nightmare I feel Jennie has started creating her legacy for Matilda Mae. Jennie is a doer, she reminds me of me! Using the internet to it's full resource to keep the memory of her precious daughter alive she is blogging making people aware that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a very real nightmare. On launch day for the Lullaby Trust there was an amazing outpouring of support from her blogging community who all linked up to get the message out there and I know that she is also fundraising for them by holding A Mile In Memory of Matilda Mae.
She is sharing her story, making it public and seeking help, there are so many people reaching out to her I hope she knows she is never far from many's thoughts. http://www.edspire.co.uk/
Jennie has been nominated in the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards (BiBs) and I'd like to help her get the recognition she deserves for wearing her heart on her sleeve. This is a bittersweet nomination for Jennie and one she maybe feels she doesn't deserve or wouldn't have happened were it not for the loss of her daughter. I wish with all my heart another family hadn't been affected by SIDS and I hope Jennie takes strength from the nomination, Matilda is helping her share this very special and emotional journey of grief. Please take a minute to vote for Edspire
It's for families like Jennie's and babies like Matilda Mae and Alexander that I fundraise, I want to stop Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in it's tracks, to stop families hurting like we do, to keep babies where they belong...in their mothers arms!
So as one more baby leaves this world in turmoil I was reminded of a Poem written for and read at the Family Carol Service held in York at Christmas by FSID. From one heartbroken Mummy to another Jennie Thank You for telling people how it feels to be us x
Precious Memories - Valerie Robinson
You were with us for a short time only.
Such a very short time.
Too short for us to know you well:
Part of our lives forever, we thought,
Not knowing that yours would be so short.
We will never know the person you would become,
You will never know life's joys and fears,
But you understand that you are loved:
The world and life you have barely seen,
Which should have been yours-Should have been.
Did you know our anguish when you were gone?
Part of us, yet, no longer here.
We will never understand the reason for our loss:
Life's gift can be lost through accident or disease,
But who understands when it's neither of these.
Does God need some children in Heaven
To balance the long-lived souls.
Why He wanted you with Him, he alone only knows:
Memories of our happiness are still so deep,
All too soon you went to sleep.
Your life to us was precious,
We valued every hour.
The memories of you will never be lost:
With each passing year we let our love grow,
Why you are not with us, we still don't know.
What a whirlwind of a week that's been! This time last week we were getting ready to leave for London and frantically waiting for the official launch from The Lullaby Trust so we could announce it on here, Facebook and Twitter.
Yesterday I had the honour and privilege of being at Number 10 Downing Street at reception hosted by Mrs Samantha Cameron for The Lullaby Trust.
I took a guest with me, David Cross a close friend of ours for a long time. David is the founder and company director of Coda Studios in Sheffield and along with his wife Toni have been a fabulous support both personally and with our fundraising. Coda sponsors the ball every year, they sell raffle tickets for us and they hold their own fundraising events as well.
Sometimes for me to say Thank you doesn't really cover the depth of emotion I feel at the generosity of our sponsors, I only wish I could have taken all of them with me.
Lots of people have told me this week how brave we were to go on National telly and speak about our story, it's not brave!
I don't want to be doing national telly, I don't want to be at a reception at Number 10, I don't want this website to exist and I don't want to host Alexander's Ball. What I do want is for my family to be complete again, for our missing member to come back and make this ache in my heart go away, I want hugs and kisses from all 5 of my boys, I want Alexander back!
This is never going to happen and so I keep him an active member of our family by fundraising and raising awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Alexander gives me the strength to carry on day to day, to tell his story in the hope that one day SIDS will no longer exist, that families won't know the heartache of that missing baby as we do. Along the way I hope that we reach out, to let those families that are going through their worst nightmare, know that they are not alone, that there is an amazing charity out there to help them and that there are other parents willing to offer a shoulder to unburden themselves on.
It was amazing to see the wonderful supporters of The Lullaby Trust at Number 10 yesterday, that we are all working towards the same goal and by sharing our sad stories, will ultimately help The Lullaby Trust in their mission.
Thank You everyone for all your good wishes, support and comments. As the most phenomenal week comes to an end I wonder what I've got to look forward to in the future with The Lullaby Trust...
Keep watching this space for Alexander's Charity Ball 2014 announcement !!!
This is it! 18 months in the planning and the big launch has arrived.
The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) is a charity close to my heart, they have enabled me to see a future and create a legacy for Alexander.
The decision to change the name was not taken lightly but in this ever growing market of charities it was felt that FSID needed to stand up and compete.
The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths will now be known as ...
The Lullaby Trust
Safer Sleep for Babies Support for Families
I love the new name, it couldn't be anymore caring, warm or inviting. It immediately for me conjures up images of babies being cared for, being sang a lullaby as they sleep. A charity I can trust to do the best for my baby.
Much hard work has gone into this launch, without the vision and drive of our CEO Francine Bates and the fabulous team she has behind her I fear this change may not have happened.
As a bereaved parent I've always been proud to be associated with FSID and the work they do, I know that as a fundraiser the interest I can get in The Lullaby Trust is going to be fabulous. No more tuning out after 'Foundation' and waking up to the word 'Death'. People are afraid of the word and its hard to explain the vision of the charity when people can't remember the name, say it incorrectly or just focus on the 'D' word! for all the latest news and developments
Please have a visit of the new website, give them a like on facebook and follow them on twitter lullabytrust.org.uk
Keep you eyes and ears open for the official announcements and if you are near a paper shop I may have done a small piece for The Independent !!!!
Even more exciting than that is that The Lullaby Trust have entrusted a very very hard to come by interview with us.
We are going on This Morning!
That's right Ian and me will be making an appearance opposite Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on Thursday 11th April ... cue nerves for about 2 weeks and increasing feelings of sickness. I'm proud that they asked us to represent them and I hope we do them proud.
So there we are I can see a fabulous future in store for The Lullaby Trust keeping all those values and moving forward to a new future, keeping babies safe and supporting families.
So we've dotted the i's crossed the t's and the proud moment has arrived.
I've written the cheque payable to The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths for £16029 !!!
This is what makes all that planning and organising worthwhile, knowing that your money is going to help in so many ways.
FSID are still looking at how the money will be spent but it will be staying within Yorkshire and as soon as we have a final breakdown of who it;s helping I will inform you all.
I'm so proud of what we can achieve and year on year as the ball gets bigger I know we can keep hitting bigger and better targets. I'm grateful for any money raised and I try not to set myself up for a fall but you did me proud this year and I was and still am overwhelmed at that total.
In the 6 years since Alexander died we have held a few fundraisers, walked a few miles, ran many more (not me I hasten to add) and still my son's memory continues to motivate people to keep giving and to keep challenging themselves.
I want to find out exactly how fabulous you all are and I shall definitely be back with a complete total on how much we've raised over 6 years so watch this space
So once again a Massive Thank You from me and here's to 2014 !!!
Since 2007 A Mile in Memory has been a lovely way for family and friends to get together to honour the life of someone special. It is a poignant event for us as it was founded the year that Alexander died and the first fundraising we ever did. Members of Mumsnet started the walk in memory of a little girl called Maude who was 2 when she died in January 2007. It was a huge success and FSID took the event on as their own.
I've never met Nola, Maude's Mummy but we were in contact then and we still are friends on Facebook. I owe a lot to Maude and Nola for helping me through those first few months, I found it hard and unthinkable that Alex was over 1 when he died and knowing I wasn't alone in that was a little comforting. I had never heard of babies over 1 suffering from Cot Death or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome but it does happen, sadly.
This year's I've planned a walk in Yorkshire at Cannon Hall Park and Gardens. This is a fabulous local setting and after we have strolled around our mile we will release our balloons and messages into the sky for our angels to read.
I hope to organise a little bit of fun after as well with our usual picnic taking place but also some games and a bit of fun for us all to get involved in. If you can help with this or have any ideas as to what we could do then please do get in touch.
The date is Saturday 11th May and as with previous walks there will be many held across the country and as we all set of at 11:00 I know there will be many thoughts with all those babies that we couldn't be sharing the walk with.
If you would like to join us then please do I will ask for a donation to the charity as part of the walk nothing to break the bank just £1 and I have set up a Facebook event so I can communicate any details on there as well as here on the website.
I look forward to seeing you then
So, that's it! Done and dusted for another year and what an absolutely fabulous night!
Starting at 10am with Sam and her Glamourpuss team (and a couple of novice hands) there were 300 sashes, 30 mirrors, Vases and Light bases, over 3000 feathers, millions of table diamonds, 1 blow up Champagne bottle, 50ish balloons and one emergency trip back to Barnsley!
The room looked stunning and as always Sam gave The Queens Hotel Ballroom the WOW factor. Everyone commented on how stunning it all looked so Thank You Sam.
The decor was then given a sparkly boost with the addition of a Twinkle Dancefloor supplied by Wedding Venue Lighting if you haven't seen one in action I have to say it beats dancing on a plain old dance floor, I think this is going to have to be a regular addition to The Ball now! Lighting in the room was given an ambient pink glow by Martin from Carta Projects as well as our lovely logo on the wall, I have to say even though we had a little hiccup with the lights due to The Queens electrics not being 100% Martin didn't hesitate to drive all the way back to us to sort it out. Excellent service and I am trying to restrain myself from looking at all the fantastic things Carta Projects can do for us for 2014!!!
That was it the night was under-way, the speech was nervously spoken whilst trying to hold back the tears and take in the 300 pairs of eyes staring back at me, the meal was delicious and the drinks were flowing nicely.
Our entertainment was massive hit so once again I need to say Thank You to Graeme Cox
http://www.party-joe.com/fr_home.cfm for starting the evening off with his wonderful voice and Mark Waddington who entertained brilliantly with his magic, the amount of people talking about the tricks at breakfast made me chuckle alot. http://yorkshireweddingmagician.com/
Func on the Rocks were unbelievable no sooner had they said hello and started their set then the dance floor was swamped, you did a brilliant job guys the dance floor never emptied whilst you were playing and so many people came to me to say how good you were http://funcontherocks.com/ Also our Fun Casino was once again a massive hit so Thank You to Ian Mac and Grosvenor Fun Casino's everyone had a blast and lots of very happy prize winners.
There are some brilliant pictures floating about from the night some of which are here, if you were there and would like to share them please tag us on facebook I'd love to see them
Please please share your memories with us, what you enjoyed and maybe what you'd like to see in the future, all ideas are gratefully received.
And so to our total ...
£16029 is the total raised from the sales of all tickets including the Raffle, Auction Prizes, Sales of Fun Casino Money and Golden Envelopes on the night and the donation from our Photographer. Also included in this total is £410 from Penistone Players, our local Theatre Group who I have to say did a great job Thank You All.
I'm overwhelmed I wanted £15000 and hoped we could achieve it so THANK YOU all so so much for playing a part in it. I now need to have a chat with FSID and talk about where this money is best placed, some of which will be going into research as normal but I would really like to keep this in Yorshire and have a legacy for Alexander in his home county.
It also appears that I may have booked Alexander's Charity Ball 2014 so after a few months off I shall come back to you all ready to start again!!!
This is long overdue so my apologies to Alison and Jolly Tots for the time delay!
Things are hotting up at Big Ball Central, ticket money is trickling in and our entertainment has been confirmed.
This wouldn't be possible without the aid of sponsors and here is a Big Thank You to another of our fabulous supporters.
Jolly Tots Soft Play is Penistone's only soft play centre and was originally opened on 9th February 2009 !!! It was the brainchild of two local mums who saw a gap in the market and has gone from strength to strength with Alison at the helm. It's a haven for mums with kids under 5 giving us the space to sit and have a coffee and a slice of far too tempting cake whilst the littlies play in the perfect sized play equipment.
Since opening Jolly's has been a regular supporter of FSID for which I owe them a debt of gratitude. Alison regular holds shopping evenings raising money and she can often be found selling our raffle tickets and rallying interest in Alexanders Charity Ball.
This year they have gone one step further and are sponsoring our Magician for the night Mark Waddington, once again the support of Alison is overwhelming not only for the ball, raffle and now sponsorship but as a friend.
Thank You Alison and Jolly Tots x
Jolly's has a Facebook Page so please go over and give them a like, Joseph and I have made some great friends through Jolly's and it has become a regular event in our weekly diary. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jolly-Tots/66613472254?fref=ts
This is a guest post from Helen at Photography for Little People about who she is and why she supports Alexander's Charity Ball
When I first heard about Alexander's Charity and the tragedy that had
struck Nicola and her family I felt a tremendous wave of sadness and
wondered how you could ever continue on lives path. I must admit I
came home that night, at the time my own son was 17months old and I held him so tight thinking if that had of been me!
Anyway as I recently started my own business I was looking to work
with a charity that would be part of me and Photography for Little
People Sheffield. I felt after all these years of dreaming of my own business that part of it was also to help raise awareness and monies for a worthwhile cause. I had looked at lots of charities but none
that struck a cord with me, until of course I met Nicola.
I spent many a night thinking and reading Nicola's story, which then prompted me to research FSID even more. I arranged a coffee with Nicola and I knew within minutes that Alexander's Charity was the
one for me. Something inside knew that I had to do all I could, however small to help raise awareness and do what I could to show that there are more families than we know who are suffering in the way Nicola and her family have and still do. And without the families such as Nicola and the charity, all of those other families in need would have no where to turn to. Realistically, this is Alex's charity and one Nicola has poured her heart and soul into. I wanted Nicola to know she could trust me in promoting the charity in a positive way, so I really was on tenderhooks until Nicola expressed her delights in having PLP be part of something so personal. However all in all my small contribution makes me feel part of something special and unique.
So what have I been doing? Well so far I have just had all my artwork re done to include Alexander's Charity logo and links to the charity on the Sheffield PCT trust. I am currently working on getting the link on my business page and on my next print run of leaflets and posters, the logo will be proudly part of my work. On
top of that I am actively seeking a celebrity to agree to have an impression of their hand, along with a signed photo to be auctioned on the night of the Ball! Both me and Nicola are hoping that if we
get the celebrity on board they may even attend.....so watch this space!!!!!
On a personal note and although I never met Alex, I am sure he would be so proud of his mummy who is a true inspiration. And because of Nicola I feel that I can spread the awareness of Alex but in a truly
positive way and as mummy it has made me more thankful for my very own piece of perfection!
Helen is the busiest person ever but has still taken the time out to include ACB as part of her work, we are still in the early stages of this collaboration so we are both working on ideas to make this work for us both. Please take a look at PLP's main website they have some lovely shots and impressions and do a great amount of work for charity _ Helen is also on Facebook so please go over and give her a like by clicking 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 !