Celebrities were out in Brighton on Saturday night to support Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice.
The Snowman Spectacular Ball, one of the leading charity events outside London, was another fundraising success, raising an incredible £532,314 on the night – smashing last year’s total of £455,011.
Broadcaster Danny Pike, who hosted this year’s ball at the Hilton Brighton Metropole, 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.”
Other celebrities joining in the fun included Benidorm actress and charity patron Julie Graham, Big Brother winner Jason Burrill, Brighton broadcaster Marcella Whittingdale, footballers Kerry Mayo and Paul Jones, also a patron, and Gogglebox stars Stephen Webb and Chris Steed.
The 540 guests enjoyed an exclusive evening of magical entertainment in a winter wonderland setting, inspired by the charity’s patron, Raymond Briggs, and his story The Snowman.
Music was provided by songstress Julia Birkinshaw, gospel choir The Armonia Singers and party band Candy Apple Blue.
Incognito Artists, who provide surprise party entertainment, also put on a show. They posed as guests, then suddenly burst into song with a miscellany of West End musical hits and rousing operatic arias, including Nessun Dorma.
The highlight of the evening was a heartfelt speech from Victoria Ramm, who lost two babies, three years apart, and found the services of the hospice a lifeline. Guests were visibly moved and stood to applaud her for sharing her story.
Auctioneer Nick Muston then encouraged bidding on 12 exclusive lots, including a luxury holiday that went for £7,000 and a chance to be a character in the next book by Brighton crime author Peter James, which went for £3,400.
Brighton businessman Robbie Raggio took to the stage for the final lots - Pay For a Day and Pay For an Hour at the hospice. This scheme, to cover the £6,850 needed each day or £285 needed for an hour of care both at Chestnut Tree House and out in the community, was started by businessman Mike Holland and has proved a resounding success. Guests pledged enough to pay for 61 days and 132 hours.
Construction company Willmott Dixon fulfilled its pledge to raise £100,000 and presented the charity with a cheque for £103,820.86. It also made a new pledge, to raise £143,850 to pay for three weeks’ care over the next year.
Guests supported the Christmas Gift Tree, where more than 600 mystery gifts were wrapped by volunteers, there were 45 lots in a silent auction and new for this year were two prize draws.
Sarah Arnold, head of fundraising development, said: “We are so grateful to our wonderful guests at this year’s Snowman Spectacular Fundraising Ball for their overwhelming support and generosity.
“The £532,314 total 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.”
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