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 email@example.com 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
This is us ...The Richardson's as at 2013 taken in a family lifestyle shoot with Katie Cartwright at KTM Photography.
The pictures are amazing and as always KT has managed to capture each and every one of us perfectly.
There is one thing wrong with all our pictures though, one thing or rather person missing from all these shots that I want to include with all my heart.
As our family grows and the boys reach their milestones, moments like us being photographed for an updated gallery picture, bring a little sadness as it highlights our missing member so much.
There is more than enough room for Alexander in our pictures and I suppose he is there with us in our hearts but it's not the same, we can't compare the picture with others we've had and notice those changes that creep up on you out of nowhere. Harrison's long legs, Tom getting more mature, Jack's changing hairstyle and of course our cheeky ginger monkey growing and changing.
It's a moment frozen in time and we had massive fun as we always do when KT gets her camera out but I wish there was a little magic to help us be the family of 7 we truly are.
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 !!!
We did it ! We went on national TV!!!
I got the call from Louisa Mullan, The Lullaby Trust's Press manager a couple of weeks ago asking if Ian and myself would consider doing the interview for them. This is a big deal, it's very hard to secure an interview on the coveted This Morning and it was an honour and privilege for the charity to have entrusted such an important interview with us!
I have had constant butterflies and nerves since then.
I had spoken to Ellie Cole about our story on Tuesday, Ellie is an assistant producer on the show (I hope that's right) she was already well prepared having read what I have written previously. It's her job to make sure that all the information on the show is accurate and correct and she did a fabulous job. She is really lovely and handled a difficult situation fantastically.
We traveled to London the day before the interview so as to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the morning, I didn't anticipate being awake half the night due to an overactive mind and nerves.
A car was sent to collect us from the hotel and we arrived at the Southbank ITV studios ...exciting!
We were met by a lovely security guard and shown the way with much excitment and photo taking at the This Morning lift.
The whole team at This Morning are fabulous, very friendly, relaxed and informed. There wasn't the hustle and bustle I expected, just an organised and busy office!
We were offered a drink and then almost immediately taken into make up, absolute heaven for me but Ian was a little apprehensive. Tash was fabulous, very chatty and really down to earth, she did an amazing job with my make up and settling my nerves. Strangely whilst I was in the chair, with other guests and the legend that is Denise Robertson having their hair and make up done, Stephen Mulhern popped his head around the door to say hi!
There is a lot of waiting around but whilst we were in the green room we were watching the show, with guests filing passed the door. I was caught unaware when the photos and video of the boys was shown on the line up, I cried a little seeing those two little faces on telly knowing that one would never know the impact he would have on the lives of others.
The first glance of Philip and Holly was a fleeting one as they made their way to the studio but eeeekkkkk.
Before the show started we were asked to do a pre record, basically sit on a sofa and chat to each other whilst they filmed us for one of their 'coming up' segments. Harder said than done! When you are told not to smile too much and just talk about anything (no one would hear us on the tv) we did just smile and run out of stuff to say, it took about 5 or 6 times to get it right.
Then it was us! We had mic's on, we were led into the studio, make up re touched and it was time ...
It sounds so cliched to say but Holly and Phil are such lovely people, very warm, empathetic and extremely good at making you feel at ease in a very alien environment.
The both immediately stood up, asked us how we were, gave us a hug (eeeeekkkkk again) and said how brave we were to do what we were but how fabulous and important they thought it was to highlight sids and of course the work of The Lullaby Trust. I relaxed immediately, all those nerves disappeared and it sounds odd to say but I felt safe sat on that sofa opposite two absolute professionals and of course next to Ian.
All too soon it was over but we weren't ushered away, we were given the chance to chat a little, have our pictures taken, ask for autographs for the boys and of course to hand over Harrison's letter to Philip, he thinks The Cube is 'EPIC' and wanted to ask Philip for his autograph and a few questions! Thank You Philip for taking the time to reply to him, he was over the moon and I'm not quite sure he has come down off cloud 9 yet! We will of course be framing the note and picture at his request.
I'm so please and proud that we did the interview, it is a once in a lifetime chance and if it has helped save just one baby or one family to realise they are not alone in their suffering then it was more than worth it.
I hope it had the desired effect for The Lullaby Trust, they are an amazing charity, only small who are working tirelessly in the background for parents like us offering support and a future as well as keeping all those thousands of babies born every year safer.
The interview is still available on the ITV player but I'm not sure for how long. This is a link to it as of today http://www.itv.com/thismorning/health/sudden-infant-death-syndrome/ Please have a look and if would like more information please contact http://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/
Finally we'd both like to say Thank You for all your lovely comments on Facebook, Twitter and on the This Morning and The Lullaby Trusts Facebook pages. It was all for this young man and for the future of our boys x
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.
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 !