Chestnut Tree House Snow Ball 2015
Chestnut Tree House’s Snowman Spectacular Ball on Saturday 5 December – highlight of the Brighton social calendar and one of the leading charity events outside London – celebrated another fundraising success for the Sussex children’s hospice with an incredible total of £455,011 on the night.
Guests were wowed by an exclusive live performance from five-piece harmony group, The Overtones, currently on tour with their new show, got the audience on their feet dancing and singing along to their stylish mix of R & B, soul and pop music. When The Overtones – Timmy, Mark, Lachie, Mike and Darren – heard about the hospice, they were delighted to perform and said, “We are delighted to be performing at the Snowman Spectacular Ball and helping to raise vital funds and awareness for Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice. They provide amazing care for children and families in Sussex and it’s a privilege to be part of the evening and to help this worthwhile cause.”
As well as singing and dancing along to The Overtones, 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.
Other celebrities at the Snowman Spectacular Ball included Olympian, and Chestnut tree House Patron, Sally Gunnell OBE, Monty Python actress and comedian, Carol Cleveland, and footballers Paul Jones (also a Chestnut Tree House Patron), Casper Angerken and Kerry Mayo. The Ball was hosted by Brighton-based broadcaster, Marcella Whittingdale.
The ultimate highlight of the evening was the heartfelt speech by Helen Cookson, whose two daughters, Rebecca and Rachel, were cared for by Chestnut Tree House. Both girls were diagnosed with Late Infantile Batten’s disease, an aggressive, progressive neurological disorder. Sadly Rebecca, aged just five and a half, passed away in December 2008. At this time Rachel had shown no signs of the disease. However, not long after Rebecca died, Rachel started having seizures and her speech began to deteriorate. She spent the last nine weeks of her life at Chestnut Tree House and in November 2012, aged just seven, Rachel also sadly died. At the end of Helen’s speech, the guests were visibly moved by her story and all stood to applaud her and her courage at sharing her story.
Following Helen’s speech was the Spectacular Auction with 11 incredible lots. 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 costs £6,850 each day or £285 for each hour. Pay For a Day was originally the idea of Chestnut Tree House Patron, Mike Holland, and the fundraising initiative has proved a resounding success. Hospice staff were amazed and delighted when 32 guests pledged to Pay For a Day and 127 put their hands up to Pay For an Hour. There was a dramatic change to the total when one of the companies in the room then pledged to pay for another 14 days.
Said Linda Perry, Director of Children’s Services at Chestnut Tree House, “We are so grateful to our wonderful guests at this year’s Snowman Spectacular Fundraising Ball for their amazing support and generosity. £455,011 is an incredible sum and will pay for 2 months 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 has raised more in one evening than 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. We are so grateful to all our guests for their incredible generosity.”