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During a visit to Chestnut Tree House earlier this year, when he spent time with some of the children and families, Peter Andre said he was blown away by what he had seen and experienced. Fast forward to Saturday 1 December 2018, and the singer took to the stage as the star act at The Snowman™ Spectacular Fundraising Ball, wowing the 523 guests who were attending to show their support for the charity.
£516,230 was raised on the night.
Inspired by The Snowman™, the picture book created and illustrated 40 years ago by Chestnut Tree House Patron, Raymond Briggs CBE, the Ball is the biggest event on the charity’s fundraising calendar. Guests enjoyed a three-course meal in a spectacular winter wonderland setting at the Hilton Brighton Metropole, as well as a host of fundraising activities and entertainment, celebrating 15 years of children’s hospice care.
The Snowman himself attended to meet and greet guests at the drinks reception, before appearing on stage to deliver a special message from Raymond Briggs, read out by host, Danny Pike:
“When I created The Snowman 40 years ago, I could never have imagined the pleasure he would bring to so many young lives. I am delighted that my Snowman has helped Chestnut Tree House raise so much money over the years to provide vital care for so many local children and families. I am sure the 15th birthday Snowman Spectacular Ball will be fantastic and I hope you will give generously this evening to enable Chestnut Tree House to continue to care for some of the most deserving children in our community. Thank you, and may you have a very Happy Christmas.”
Supporters at the event included life-time Patron, Ambrose Harcourt; Olympic Champion, Sally Gunnell OBE DL; model and racing driver, Jodie Kidd; and Paralympic Equestrian Champion, Natasha Baker MBE. MasterChef 2018 Champion, Kenny Tutt, also attended and was thanked for helping Chestnut Tree House with the menu selection for the night.
In addition to a set from Peter Andre, guests were treated to some energy-filled routines from street dance act, Nu Sxool, who wowed ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ audiences in 2012; as well as live music from solo jazz vocalist, Julia Birkinshaw; and party band Ambassador.
But, the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the heartfelt speech by Lorna Cobbett, who spoke about what Chestnut Tree House means to her and her family. Lorna’s triplet daughter, Essie, went to Chestnut Tree House from 13 weeks old, before sadly passing away in August 2017, aged 18 months. She talked about the ways the Chestnut Tree House care team were there through the worst days and helped the family make memories – little moments to treasure forever.
Lorna’s speech was followed by the Spectacular Auction. Auctioneer Nick Muston led the proceedings, encouraging guests to dig deep for some ‘money-can’t buy’ items and experiences, including a Goodwood VIP Motoring Experience with Jodie Kidd, which went for an impressive £10,000; tickets to the exclusive preview night of London’s Winter Wonderland 2019 for £4,200; and a chance to be a character in Peter James’s next book for £2,500.
Nick Muston also auctioned 15 limited-edition signed prints of an exclusive illustration ‘The Juggling Snowman’ drawn for Chestnut Tree House by Raymond Briggs. The 15 prints – symbolising the 15 years that Chestnut Tree House has been providing children’s hospice care – were snapped up for £600 each, raising £9,000 in total.
Brighton businessman and charity Patron, Robbie Raggio, took to the stage for the final two auction lots, Pay for a Day and Pay for an Hour. Chestnut Tree House needs to raise £6,850 each day – or £285 for every hour – to provide all the care services at the House and in families’ own homes across Sussex and South East Hampshire. Since these fundraising initiatives were launched in 2011, over £2 million has been raised at The Snowman Spectacular Ball through Pay for a Day. At this year’s event, guests generously pledged to pay for 54 days and a further 141 hours of care for the coming year. Construction company, Willmott Dixon, who were one of the Headline Sponsors of the Ball, pledged to raise a staggering £95,900 to pay for two weeks’ care; and Mike Holland – creator of the charity’s Pay for a Day initiative – paid for three days.
Other fundraising activities on the night included a Gift Grotto, with over 600 mystery gifts donated by Headline Sponsor, Green People; British Airways i360; Paladone; Temple Spa and other supporters. There were also two prize draws – a Gold draw for a Caribbean Holiday, generously donated by Hugh and Carolyne Hazlehurst and Cap Maison; and a Silver draw for a UK Spa Break courtesy of Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa. The winners were drawn by Jodie Kidd and Sally Gunnell.
In addition to this, there was an online auction with over 50 lots, which opened to bidders a month before the Ball. Highlights included a special 40th anniversary The Snowman™ package, with a copy of the book plus one of 2018 UK 50p Brilliant Uncirculated Coins – both signed by Raymond Briggs – which went for £1,200; and an exclusive VIP Phantom of the Opera experience for £975.
Cathy Stone, Clinical Director at Chestnut Tree House said: “We are always humbled by the support shown at The Snowman Spectacular Ball, and this year was no exception. £516,230 is an incredible amount to raise in a single night, and we are so incredibly grateful to everyone who attended, as well as all the individuals and organisations who donated their time, services and prizes for the event.
“It was a spectacular event and we would like to say a heartfelt thank you to our friend and Patron, Raymond Briggs, who has supported Chestnut Tree House for many years and generously allows us to feature The Snowman in our annual Fundraising Ball.
“We would also like to thank our Patron, Robbie Raggio – he is such a special supporter and tireless fundraiser for Chestnut Tree House.
“The Snowman Spectacular Ball would not be possible without the support of our sponsors. We would like to thank our two Headline Sponsors, Green People and Willmott Dixon; as well as Amber Scaffolding, Avensys, Clearline Recruitment, Creative Pod, E3, ECE Architecture, Gemini Print, Gusto Wines, Hilton Brighton Metropole, Oliver & Graimes, Platinum Publishing, Shoreham Vehicle Auctions, and Sussex Life. We’d also like to say a special thank you to all our wonderful volunteers who worked tirelessly before and during the event.
“We have been celebrating Chestnut Tree House’s 15th birthday this year, and would like to thank everyone who has helped us over the years. People help us in many different ways and without our supporters, we would not be able to care for all the life-limited children and families who need us. All support, no matter how big or small, is invaluable and really does make a difference.”