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 !!!!!
Can you help?
There are many many things involved in organising a Charity Ball, it's no mean feat let me tell you and the pressure is on to make each night as good and even better than the last.
Our popularity has grown and grown and from 200 people attending in 2011 we are expecting over 400 for 2014.
The word is spreading so attendance is increasing and I am overjoyed that so many want to join us in remembering our son but in order to make it the success I want it to be I need a few things.
If you provide us with a service, sponsorship or prize donation then you will have a captive audience of over 400 on the night plus the views on our website are hitting between 200 and 600 views per day...Can you afford not to be a part of it?
Below is a bit of a wishlist and if you feel you can help then please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AlexandersCharityBall
1) Goody Bags - I'd love every guest to leave Alexander's Ball with a little memento of the night. For this I'd need someone to supply the bags and vouchers and samples to go in them. Can you help?
2) Can you do a promotional video for Alexander's Charity Ball maybe to include a word from our sponsors as well as snippets from me and maybe The Lullaby Trust and then film our night so people can see exactly what they get for their money. I'm sure our guests will be happy to rave about us on film on the night!
3) Raffle and Auction prizes - This is increasingly the hardest request, there are so many great people doing great things for great charities that I fear the pot is very increasingly empty. Please consider a donation of a prize to us it doesn't have to be an extravagant prize, the raffle alone can raise about £4000 for us which is a superb amount to lose if I don't do it.
4) Despite lots of asking we still don't have anyone to design our posters and brochures, if this is something you are able to do for us we'd very much appreciate it. I am hoping this is an ongoing relationship with ACB so if you are willing to help please do get in touch
Please please share the website, blog and facebook page to everyone you can, if you are a blogger please consider us for a post. Alexander's Charity Ball is not just about raising money it's about awareness, Sudden Infant Deaths are still happening and the number of babies dying every year needs to reduce but that can only happen with your help.
Thank You to everyone who has helped so far
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 !!!
So whilst in the shower I got to thinking, it's actually where I think and reflect the most. Probably because it's the quietest room in the house and the time I get a little bit of me time!
This isn't an easy post but for me I wanted to write a personal post about the things that come to me when I least expect them, sometimes I can appear detached from the issues when the fundraiser in me takes over but these are things I remember from that day the things that are imprinted on my memory.
I Remember ...
the day it happened, the worst actual day of my whole 34 years. The shower I took before 'waking' my son, the moment I touched that bedroom door handle and knew with absolute certainty that something was drastically wrong.
ringing Ian who was on his way to work, lying to him just so he would be careful driving home.
ringing our parents and my Mum strangely asking if I'd phoned an ambulance.
his foot peeking out from a blanket as the paramedics carried him to the ambulance.
the car journey to the hospital, the hope that Ian had that things would be ok and knowing deep down there was no hope.
the look on the faces of the 3 men that had tried to save my baby.
the sound of my husbands hope disappearing in the instant we saw that little person laying lifeless on a massive hospital bed.
asking for a Catholic priest (I haven't set foot in a Catholic Church in a long time) and thinking when he arrived that his shoes were terrible and had no laces in them!
the sight of a Dad from my boys school (who is a Vicar) walking towards us and feeling able to let go, he and his family are now a very dear set of friends for us.
ringing Shelley (a Twin Mum, a member of a fabulous message board for parents of twins and someone with whom I'd met only a handful of times) I cannot remember exactly what I said or how long I was on the phone but it was important to me at that time to let the 'friends' I'd made over 2 years know.
all those sad faces arriving at our door with no idea what to expect or what to say.
the weather, it snowed !
the police. I can't tell you what they looked like, who they were (I know they were locals) or what they said but I know they were there not in an intruding way they were just there.
my Dad taking Tom and Jack on endless bracing walks and building snowmen in the garden.
the endless cups of tea, it wore my kettle out !
the emptiness, the heartache, the fear.
watching Harrison our surviving twin searching in their hiding spots looking for the other half of him.
Most things are a blur or feel a little like I dreamed them but 5 and half years later these are the things that pop into my head when I least expect them too. I know I will never ever forget the events of that day and I'm sorry if this post is a little difficult for you to read but I needed to share it, for me but to also try and make people understand a little more.
Thanks for reading
Why do I support the Charity? Well, seeing as though Ian is one of my best friends Alex’s death was bound to affect all those close to him profoundly. For me there is also another reason that will resound with any parent. Ava had just been born (my first) and I was still coming to terms with the fact that I was a dad and responsible for another little person. I was also still in the phase of making sure she was breathing at night…
We had decided to combine a business trip to Filey with our first over night stay with our little girl and were travelling up the A64 with a work colleague, my wife and Ava. I missed a call from Dan as I was on the phone to a client. I don’t really recall what happened next, whether I called back or if my wife took a call. All I do know is that I found out that Alex had died. What sticks in my memory is that the morning seemed to pass on autopilot with the meeting with a client discussing business and then leaving my colleague there as we drove off. I drove the car for a few miles then collapsed crying at the wheel. We came straight home.
Alex wasn’t a baby in my mind; he was a toddler and way past the point of danger. How could this have happened? How could Ian and Nicola survive this? What would I do? All those awful questions you ask yourself time and time again.
I can honestly say that hardly a day goes by whereby I don’t think of Alex and the impact it’s had on my life as a dad. I like to think I am a better dad because of it and I like to think that his life has left a permanent impression not only on his family but on all those around him.
I have been meaning to write to you and tell you this for years… never got round to it. Never really thought it was fair to bring it up but now it’s said. Every time I kiss my kids good night and read them a story I cherish that I have them.
Dave and Toni have been brilliant friends and a tremendous amount of support to us over the last 5 and a half years. Ava and Fred are fabulously funny, well rounded kids who are a credit to them and without The Cross Family to support and encourage I'm not sure that The Ball would exist in it's current form.
Thank You both from the bottom of our hearts.
Nicola and Ian x
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 !