Ok I'll admit I lost my mojo it's hard for to admit that especially as I've committed to the biggest challenge I'll probably undertake but fingers crossed it's on it's way back and I'm ready to get this challenge on the road.
You may (or may not) remember back in May that I said I would do my utmost to raise £100,000 for The Lullaby Trust in one year completing the challenge in September 2015 for Alexander's 10th Birthday.
The challenge is due to start next month and I'd love to start it with an awareness campaign on Social Media. A selfie or such like with a donation by text to our campaign, I know it's been done before but they always seem so successful I'd love to give it a shot.
I'm worried I'd be lying if I said I wasn't but I am determined and I will do my very very best to keep this campaign going but I know I am going to need so much help. Would you consider holding a fundraiser for me? It doesn't have to be huge just a gathering at home for friends, a tea party, a cake sale, anything that will help boost our total it is all going to help massively.
I'll make my apologies now for bombarding your Facebook and twitter pages but I'm not sure I have to words to express how important this research is to me and all those parents out there who put a healthy toddler to bed and then lost them to this silent killer. I'm not sure I can just carry on as normal knowing there is someone willing to undertake this investigation into Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood, someone trying to give us answers, without doing my bit to get it underway.
Please if you think you can help us in any way at all no matter how big or small you think it is I'd love to hear from you I really am going to need all the help I can get for this one.
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 !!!!!
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 !!!
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.
Exciting times ahead for the Charity and I'm nearly bursting not telling you all what's in store for this fabulous charity.
Keep your eyes and ears open for the announcement on the 10th April I know you will all love the changes.
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!!!
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 !