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Chestnut Tree House’s Snowman Spectacular Fundraising Ball took place on Saturday 2 December at the Hilton Brighton Metropole and raised a staggering £566,025, more than ever before in the tenth year of the event.
This year’s Snowman Spectacular Ball marked a decade of collaboration between the charity and The Snowman™ – the iconic character created by Raymond Briggs CBE almost 40 years ago.
Taking its inspiration from The Snowman™, the picture book created and illustrated by Chestnut Tree House Patron, Raymond Briggs CBE, the Ball is the biggest event on the charity’s fundraising calendar and the best-supported charity ball in the South East. The 564 guests enjoyed a three-course meal, an exclusive winter wonderland setting, an evening packed with entertainment and a host of fundraising activities.
The Snowman himself was at the drinks reception to meet and greet guests, and then joined Ball host Danny Pike on stage at the start of the evening to deliver a special message from Raymond Briggs (read out by Danny):
“I am delighted that my Snowman has helped Chestnut Tree House raise so much money over the last 10 years to provide care for so many local children and families. I am sure the tenth Snowman Spectacular Ball will be amazing and I hope the guests will give generously to enable Chestnut Tree House to continue its vital work in our local community.”
The winter wonderland setting – inspired by the original The Snowman™ book and current stage show – was complimented by a range of musical entertainment. The Electric Trio kicked off the evening by playing their first number as guests were called to dinner, Matthew VanKan provided live music throughout dinner and Björn Again got everyone up dancing as they performed some of ABBA’s greatest hits. Just after midnight, The Ultimate Jerseys, featuring West End cast members from ‘Jersey Boys’, offered an energetic performance celebrating ‘Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons’, before party band Candy Apple Blue played a variety of pop, Motown and soul classics until 2am.
A sprinkling of celebrities enjoyed the fun, including actress and Patron of Chestnut Tree House, Julie Graham; Big Brother winner, Jason Burrill; Brighton DJ, Guy Lloyd; and footballers Kerry Mayo and Paul Jones (also a Chestnut Tree House Patron).
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the heartfelt speech by 18 year-old Rebecca Torricelli, who spoke about what Chestnut Tree House means to her and her family. Rebecca has been using the services of Chestnut Tree House since she was five, and talked about how her life has changed in that time – she is currently reading English at university – and how the hospice has been a lifeline to the whole family over the years. Ball guests were visibly moved by the speech and Rebecca’s courage and stood to applaud her when she finished speaking.
Rebecca’s speech was followed by the Spectacular Auction with 11 incredible lots. Auctioneer Nick Muston led the proceedings for lots 1 to 9, encouraging guests to dig deep for ‘money can’t buy’ items such as a luxury 10-night Caribbean island break, which went for £7,000, a chance to be a character in Peter James’s next book for £5,000 and a New York Sporting Adventure which included tickets to both a New York Jets game at the MetLife Stadium and a Brooklyn Nets match at the Barclays Center which went for an incredible £10,000. He also auctioned the Top Table for next year’s Snowman Spectacular Fundraising Ball on Saturday 1 December 2018, which was snapped up for £3,400.
Brighton businessman and Chestnut Tree House Patron, Robbie Raggio took to the stage for the final two lots – Pay for a Day and Pay for an Hour. The charity needs to raise £6,850 each day or £285 for each hour to provide all the care both at the hospice and out in the community. Since these fundraising initiatives were launched in 2011, around £1.6 million has been raised at the Snowman Spectacular Ball through Pay for a Day. This amazing generosity has provided an incredible 230 days of care both at the hospice and in families’ own homes across East and West Sussex and South East Hampshire.
Chestnut Tree House staff were thrilled when guests pledged to pay for 63 days and a further 170 hours of care for the coming year. Construction company, Willmott Dixon, had not only fulfilled their pledge at last year’s Ball to raise a staggering £143,850, but the company also made a new pledge as part of this year’s fundraising total on the night, to raise a further £143,850 during 2018 to pay for three weeks’ care.
Ball guests had other ways to support the children’s hospice during the evening through the Gift Grotto, with over 600 mystery gifts donated by Carte Blanche, Green People, John Lewis and Temple Spa and other supporters, with boxes supplied by Allergy Therapeutics. The Gift Grottos themselves were designed and built by Chestnut Tree House supporter and volunteer, Stuart Upperton.
There were two prize draws to choose from – the Gold draw for a relaxing nine-night Premium All Inclusive Norwegian Fjords cruise, generously donated by Andy Stuart, President of Norwegian Cruise Line; and the Silver draw for a nostalgic luxury UK break courtesy of Gravetye Manor and Bluebell Railway. The winners were drawn by Julie Graham during the evening. In addition, there was the opportunity to capture special memories of the evening with Fergus Ford Photography, plus over 50 lots to bid on in the Silent Auction, including a five-star Caribbean holiday, tickets to a live show of The Voice UK including four-star hotel accommodation, and a cocktail-making experience at Hotel du Vin Brighton.
Linda Perry, Director of Children’s Services at Chestnut Tree House said: “We are so incredibly grateful to everyone who attended our tenth Snowman Spectacular Fundraising Ball for their overwhelming support and generosity. We simply couldn’t continue to provide all our specialist care services to local children and families without it. £566,025 is an amazing amount of money and in total will pay for nearly 12 weeks of care provided by Chestnut Tree House both at the hospice and out in the community in families’ own homes.
“To put this fundraising effort into perspective, the amount raised in this one incredible evening is more than twice as much as our annual grant from central government, so it really will make a difference to the local life-limited children and families who need our help.
“I would also like to thank our friend and Patron, Raymond Briggs, for allowing us to feature The Snowman in our Fundraising Ball for the last 10 years. Raymond has been incredibly supportive since Chestnut Tree House first opened in 2003 and the Ball wouldn’t be what it is today without him.
“It would not be possible to put on a Ball of this scale without the fantastic support of our sponsors. We would like to thank our headline sponsors, Green People and Leaders, as well as Classic Consulting, Creative Pod, ECE Architecture, E3, Gemini Print, Gusto Wines, Hilton Brighton Metropole, Juice 107.2, Oliver and Graimes, Platinum Business Magazine, Shoreham Vehicle Auctions, Signature Flight and Sussex Life. There are so many people who have been involved with the Ball and I would like to thank each and every one of them on behalf of everyone at Chestnut Tree House – their support is invaluable and really does make a difference.”