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.
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 !!!
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 the final post of 2012 as things wind down here at Big Ball Central for Christmas. I realise that I have so many people to Thank for their help and generosity in helping to make Alexander's Charity Ball 2013 the biggest and best yet.
Over the last couple of weeks Richard Crossfield, a local businessman and friend of ours has offered sponsorship and through his generosity (and a little bit of cheekiness on my part) we are able to light the ballroom in the most stunning of ways. Richard and Danielle have been great supporters of the ball and inadvertently Richard helped us through when Alexander died, we had just confirmed our house move the day before. I don't think we've actually ever said Thank You formally for Richard's help during what could have been an even more difficult situation.
This week I have booked our pre dinner entertainment as well in the form of Graeme Cox or Party Joe, on a Mum's Christmas Night Out Graeme was playing at the pub, he was brilliant and so I decided to bite the bullet and ask if by any chance he was free. I think he's just what we need to set the atmosphere at the start of the night and if anyone has any requests for a song let me know and I can ask Graeme to add it to his set list. There are some previews of songs on his website so please go and take a look _http://party-joe.com/fr_home.cfm
So finally all that remains is for me to say a few Thank You's to all our sponsors for the evening, everyone who has bought a ticket to attend, all our raffle prize donators and everyone who has supported us.
Your belief in my cause and me is overwhelming and without it none of this would go ahead
Have an amazing Christmas and a very Prosperous 2013
See you in the New Year !
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
So it's done I have officially completed my training and signed up to be an FSID Befriender.
Travelling to York on Saturday I was still feeling apprehensive about whether it was the right thing to do and about I would meet. I haven't 'met' others who have suffered a loss the same as me face to face and although I've shared our story on the FSID website and in their 40 years book I was anxious about sharing it with a complete stranger.
I hate entering a room of strangers on my own, it's a huge insecurity of mine and whilst I appear confident and outgoing I am quite shy and uncertain in situations like this however, I had no need to worry. I suppose as a befriender you can't be too shy or reserved and so as we all arrived we got chatting about the journey, parking etc you know the mundane chatty things strangers talk about.
It turns out there was a mix of us in the group with a few being experienced befrienders there for catch up training and the rest of us there to work on the skills required to be a befriender. It was also nice to meet members of the FSID team as well, Hafsa and Jean who were guiding us on the day and Gill Ryder who is the Regional Development Officer for FSID in the Yorkshire (and more) region.
I don't want to go into the ins and outs of the day but we started the day in pairs each telling the other our story with the aim being that we would then introduce our partner to the group. I was honoured to hear Mary's story about her grandson Edward and I think all of us were surprised at how emotional we all got, we shared parts of our story that we wouldn't normally share with a stranger and we came to the conclusion that as they'd been through a similar tragedy, subconsciously, we weren't afraid of upsetting or shocking that person as they could empathise with our situation.
The whole aim of befriending is to get the caller to open up and talk about the things they feel they can't with anyone else, knowing that the befriender can hear the bad parts of the story without glossing over it or telling you to pull yourself together. No one else knows the pain of losing a child suddenly and unexpectedly like another. They ring the helpline because they want to talk and I have to give them the space to do that, letting them know I am willing to listen to everything they have to say without offering the usual platitudes. You know the usual 'It'll get easier over time' or 'It's normal to feel this way but time is great healer' the things you say when you don't want to hear the bad bits and unconsciously cut the other person off.
I came away on Saturday with a confidence that I could do this and whilst it's not easy to hear someone's very sad story they need to tell it to someone so why shouldn't it be me! I was privileged to meet all those brilliant and brave Mums, Grandma's, Aunties and Granddad's who have all felt as I did and understood this ache that I have on a daily basis. They shared their story with me and I with them and they got it every single one them and I thank them for that.
Befriending isn't a massive commitment so I may receive contact only a handful of times in a year but once that contact is made it could be a longer term commitment involving a phonecall every couple of weeks or so or maybe even an email. Also once a year attending one of the family fun days run by FSID (which are free anyway) and taking an hour or two out of my day to be available to chat if I'm needed. Considering Alexander's Ball are funding the Yorkshire regions fun day for 2013 we shall definitely be there!
Thank You to Jean and Hafsa who made the day as comfortable as possible, who answered questions and sat patiently whilst we shared our stories and often went off the track sometimes!
In September I applied to FSID to become a 'Befriender', I got to thinking that not everyone is as lucky as I am to have the support of family and friends. Over the five and half years since we lost Alexander I can honestly say that without them I might not be quite as sane as I like to think.
They are there for me at a moments notice allowing me to unload and cry if I need too, there is nothing like a friendly shoulder to cry on.
I want to be able to offer that to other families who reach out to FSID asking for help. I raise money and yes it's hard work but it's not the same as giving someone emotional support but I am a little apprehensive! What if I say the wrong thing, what if I'm not the right person for the job, What if I fail?
On Saturday I am taking a jaunt to York for FSID's befriender training where I will be given the tools to offer support to anyone that asks for it, be that on the telephone or Face to face. I'm not there to be a counsellor or answer any medical questions I am there to listen and encourage the caller to open up about how they are feeling, no one quite understands like someone who has been through it. They are asking for a few hours of my time a month which is nothing to me but everything to a newly bereaved parent.
So wish me luck I am nervous about it no doubt but I know that people listening to me (or reading my story) has been a huge help and I want to offer the same support to someone who needs it. I'll let you know how I get on next week.
http://fsid.org.uk/page.aspx?pid=1079 Here is a link to the befriender information on FSID's Website
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 !