Snowman Spectacular Ball raises over £500,000 for Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice
Chestnut Tree House’s Snowman Spectacular Ball on Saturday 3 December celebrated another fundraising success for the Sussex children’s hospice with an incredible total of £532,314 on the night, smashing last year’s total of £455,011.
The Ball, which is the highlight of the Brighton social calendar and one of the leading charity events outside London, was hosted this year by broadcaster and ‘voice of Sussex’, Danny Pike. He said, “I am proud and delighted to have been involved with the Snowman Spectacular Ball this year. Chestnut Tree House is a wonderful, local cause and the amazing generosity by all the guests will go a long way to providing care for more children and families who need the hospice’s support.”
The 540 guests enjoyed an exclusive evening of magical entertainment in a winter wonderland setting inspired by the charity’s Patron, Raymond Briggs’ iconic Snowman. Music was provided by songstress, Julia Birkinshaw, and gospel choir, the Armonia Singers and party band, Candy Apple Blue, got everyone up on their feet dancing. There was a surprise in the form of Incognito Artists who posed as guests during the evening and then suddenly burst into song with a miscellany of musical hits from West End shows and rousing operatic arias, including Nessun Dorma, which had all the guests on their feet dancing and singing along.
A sprinkling of celebrities enjoyed the fun including Benidorm actress and Patron of the charity, Julie Graham, Big Brother winner, Jason Burrill, Brighton broadcaster, Marcella Whittingdale, footballers Kerry Mayo and Paul Jones (also a Chestnut Tree House Patron), and Stephen Webb and Chris Steed from Gogglebox.
The ultimate highlight of the evening was the heartfelt speech by Victoria Ramm who sadly lost two babies, three years apart and found the services of the hospice a lifeline at such a traumatic time. At the end of Victoria’s speech, the guests were visibly moved by her story and all stood to applaud her and her courage at sharing her story.
Following Victoria’s speech was the Spectacular Auction with 12 incredible lots. Auctioneer, Nick Muston encouraged guests to bid on the ‘money can’t buy’ lots such as an amazing luxury all-inclusive private Caribbean island holiday for two which went for £7,000, and a chance to be a character in Brighton crime author, Peter James’ next book which the lucky winner snapped up for £3,400.
With Brighton businessman, Robbie Raggio, taking the stage, the final lots were Pay For a Day and Pay For an Hour at the hospice. To provide all the care both at Chestnut Tree House and out in the community, the charity must raise £6,850 each day or £285 for each hour. Pay For a Day was originally the idea of local businessman, Mike Holland, and the fundraising initiative has proved a resounding success. Hospice staff were thrilled and delighted when guests pledged to pay for 61 days and a further 132 hours. Construction company, Willmott Dixon, not only fulfilled their pledge at last year’s Ball to raise £100,000, presenting the charity with a cheque for £103,820.86, but the company also made a new pledge as part of this year’s fundraising total on the night, to raise £143,850 and pay for an incredible total of three weeks care over the next year.
Guests had other ways to support the hospice during the evening through the Christmas Gift Tree, with over 600 mystery gifts wrapped by volunteers, stored by the Big Box Storage and delivered by Apex Logistical Solutions. They were donated by Green People, Temple Spa, Carte Blanche and other supporters with boxes supplied by Lightning Packaging Supplies. New for this year’s Ball were not one, but two prize draws – the Golden Caribbean Draw for a relaxing holiday in St Lucia, generously donated by Hugh and Carolyne Hazlehurst, with flights kindly donated by British Airways, and the Silver Luxury Weekend Draw for a night at South Lodge Hotel after arriving by helicopter courtesy of Transair. In addition, there were over 45 lots in the Silent Auction, including VIP tickets to the Graham Norton Show, a Swiss Alps get away and a fantastic golf and spa package at Old Thorns Golf Club, plus the opportunity to capture special memories of the evening through Fergus Ford Photography.
Said Sarah Arnold, Head of Fundraising Development, “We are so grateful to our wonderful guests at this year’s Snowman Spectacular Fundraising Ball for their overwhelming support and generosity.
“£532,314 is an incredible sum and will pay for over 11 weeks of care provided by Chestnut Tree House both at our children’s hospice and in families’ own homes across East and West Sussex. The number of children who need our care is increasing, our care costs continue to rise and fundraising has proved extremely challenging this year. To put it into perspective, this year’s Ball raised twice as much in one evening as our annual grant from central government, so this really will make a huge difference to the children and families in Sussex who so desperately need our help. Thank you so much to all our guests for their incredible generosity.
“It would not be possible to put on a Ball of this scale without the wonderful support of our sponsors. I would like to thank our headline sponsors, Bloc Hotels and Irwin Mitchell, as well as Juice 107.2, Platinum Business Magazine, Hilton Brighton Metropole, Sussex Life, Oliver and Graimes, West Sussex Print, Creative Pod, E3, ECE architecture, Shoreham Vehicle Auctions, Green People, Gusto Wines and Signature Flight. There are so many people who have been involved with the Ball and I would like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to each and every one of them on behalf of all of us at Chestnut Tree House – their support is absolutely amazing and very much appreciated.”