Snowman Spectacular Fundraising Ball raises £54,000 for Chestnut Tree House hospice, Sussex

PUBLISHED: 10:45 15 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:24 20 February 2013

Julie Graham

Julie Graham

A glittering ball raised more than £50,000 for the only children's hospice in Sussex.

This years Snowman Spectacular Fundraising Ball for Chestnut Tree House raised 54,000 for the childrens hospice, smashing last years total of 40,000. Organisers believe the final total may yet go higher as donations are still coming in.

The event at the Hilton Brighton Metropole, was a sell-out success, attracting 570 guests made up of hospice supporters and influential business people from across Sussex.

Raymond Briggs, Patron of Chestnut Tree House, once again allowed the charity to use his iconic Snowman as the theme for the Ball to create a Christmas, winter wonderland, complete with real Christmas tree forest.

The Snowman Spectacular was hosted by friend and supporter of the hospice, Ben Richards, who plays PC Nate Roberts in the popular ITV police drama 'The Bill', and who brought a host of celebrity friends from The Bill. His co-host, Laila Rouass, was unfortunately unable to be at the Ball due to the constraints of her schedule for Strictly Come Dancing the following day. However, she took time out during rehearsals to film a message of support which was played during the evening. Ben was also joined by Brighton actress, Julie Graham, known for her lead role in Survivors, Sally Gunnell OBE who attended in her role as Patron of Chestnut Tree House, childrens TV presenter, Sid Sloane, Brighton artist Julie-Anne Gilburt, as well as Sussex celebrity DJ, Ambrose Harcourt.

The main entertainment was supplied by up and coming young comedian, Mark Watson, together with live bands, The Dynamo Rhythm Aces and The Magic Number and the Theatre Workshop International Choir.

The main speaker of the evening was Chestnut Tree House Mum, Sue Berry, accompanied by her 13 year old son, Matthew, who suffers from Duchene muscular dystrophy. She spoke very eloquently about the care Matt receives at the hospice, how much Chestnut Tree House means to them and what a difference this support makes to their lives.

They hada great time, with Matt commenting, This must be what it's like to be on the X-Factor! Sue added, Itwasan incredibleprivilegeto meet so many warm-hearted, generous people andMatthew and Ifelt very proud and honoured to have helped Chestnut Tree House with their extremely important challenge to care for every life-limited child in Sussex.

Highlight of the evening was the hugely successful Money Cant Buy auction which included fantastic prizes includingtwo sought-after tickets to the Last Night of the Proms at the Albert Hall, an original drawing by Raymond Briggs created specially for the Ball, a round of golf with Michael Campbell at the East Sussex National and an exclusive screening of The Snowman at the Duke of York cinema in Brighton. The highest bid for the evening was for the care package to enable Chestnut Tree House to provide care for a family for a whole year. Thanks to two guests each donating 9,000, this lot went for 18,000 which will allow not one, but two families to benefit.

The charity also used the evening to introduce guests to their brand new Chestnuts Challenge campaign. At present, for every child cared for by Chestnut Tree House, there is another child in Sussex not receiving this vital care due to lack of funding. Chestnuts Challenge is to find those families who need the hospices help and to double their income in the next three years.

It was a fantastic evening and we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our guests, said Hugh Lowson, Chief Executive. To raise over 54,000, especially in the current economic climate, is a fantastic achievement and I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all our guests for their kindness and to everyone who helped with making the Snowman Spectacular such a huge success.

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