2011 BHF Ball

Saturday 6 August 2011

In aid of The British Heart Foundation

Amount raised: £2508

Running total to date: £23630

Our tenth annual event and a very special charity ball.  

It was also a very special year for the BHF as they were celebrating 50 years of being a charity!

It was hard to believe that we were in our tenth year of hosting our charity events - especially as we had never intended to do more than raise some funds for BHF as a one-off in memory of our dad who had died suddenly of heart related illness in 2001.

But there we were ten years later - and we wanted to make it a bit special to say thank you to all the people (can I call them Beechyites??) who support us year after year.

But even I hadn't realised just how special it was going to be!...

One little detail that Julie (and Beechy) had omitted to tell me in all the trans-pennine event planning/organising/gossip/catchup phone calls between Retford and Manchester was that they had arranged for the entire function room - walls and ceiling - to be covered in beautiful white swagging like a huge marquee!

So the first I knew about it was when I walked in and there it all was!  What a transformation.  

Quite breathtaking, absolutely gorgeous and really special - the most surprising thing being that Julie had managed to keep it secret from me for so long!!

The chairs were covered in white to match the swagging and were finished with beautiful silver organza bows.

We made twinkly black cloths for the tables and had organised red 'thank you' roses for the ladies and chocolate bars for the gents - all with special little tags.

The table centres were red candles set in glass hurricane vases filled with red and clear flower arranging pearls. This was to be our last year of using these hurricane shaped vases and they have now been retired (eBayed!)  They had appeared regularly at our balls and we had run out of ideas on how to use and decorate them.
These pearls have to be soaked in water and 'grown' from tiny beads so Julie and Ian had a kitchen full of buckets of them for several days!  These were placed on mirrors to reflect the shimmery twinkle.

We had used white cloth napkins which Julie had carefully folded and tied with red raffia.  Not quite the simple task that it seemed - this is the story of Julie's napkin strop!...

The week before this ball we had been on a family holiday to the Peak District.  All of us - about 20 or 30 coming and going at different times over the course of the week (we had hired a big outdoor centre). 

And Aunt Margaret came too.  She is mum's sister and we have 'adopted' her as surrogate mum/helper/etc, etc.  Luckily she doesn't seem to mind - even though she has gone from having just one child to now looking out for an extra five of us!!

As we were so close to the ball we had arranged that Julie would take up all the napkins and black material to the holiday home so that we could cut out the sparkly tablecloths, make the bows and tie the napkins.  So we spent a happy afternoon cutting the cloths and making the bows for the edges of the tables.  We had a proper little factory going!

But Julie wanted the napkins folded and tied in a certain way (I think that by this time I had already been relegated to tea making duties) - and Aunt M was not working to her exacting standards.  So she was given several verbal warnings and then she was sacked - and Julie ended up folding them all herself!  All done in good humour though.

I just hope that you appreciate the lengths we go to in order to make sure that you have a good time!!...

Actually - I've just thought of something else - Julie and I were together for a full week before the ball - and she STILL didn't tell me about the marquee swagging that they were going to do!  That was very impressive Julie - you must have been nearly bursting!...

Anyway - back to the ball..

The guests were greeted with a glass of bucks fizz as they arrived and then we all settled down to an evening of good entertainment and good eating.   

Oh we can do posh when we need to!

Callum and Molly were in charge of the 'guess the name of the teddy' to raise more money.  They did a grand job - and made their own small profit when guests kept giving them a little extra for themselves!

Mike was in charge of a Powerpoint slide show on the computer which showed pictures from most of the events over the past ten years.  There were many pictures on there that people probably hadn't seen before so that is part of the reason for doing this blog - to let you all see how everyone has changed over the years.

We had our usual huge raffle and our game of stand up bingo - we don't seem to have many photos of the raffle table this year for some reason but there seem to be more pictures of the raffle ticket sellers, raffle prize holders and the prize-to-recipient runners (or possibly runner [Robin] - we don't move too fast in heels on that floor...)

One of the raffle prizes we had been given this year was the use of one of the executive stands at Peterborough Dogs for an evening's racing - with a buffet included for 50 people! 

A very generous donation which we decided not to raffle but to use in a different way.  More of that later...

As we were unable to get a local photographer for this event Beckie  (friend) kindly agreed to come over from Manchester to help Mike out with taking the photographs (in their makeshift studio in the conservatory) and putting them onto computer to show people.  Molly practised her poses ready for the camera!

More posh frocks and suits...    

As usual Julie managed to NOT have her photo taken!

But she couldn't escape this one!....

Left to right:  Cathryn, Robin, Julie, Carol, Wendy - it's not often that we are all together so we have to make the most of these photo opportunities!  And we always do the photos in age order...

I couldn't resist adding this picture taken at out first event ten years - yes, TEN YEARS earlier - we haven't changed a bit have we?!...

If you have any similar age gap photos from our events - or just any photos at all - that you would like to share we would be most happy to see (and publish) them!..

It's always hard to get a pic of Julie smiling and the only reason she was smiling here was because she had put her glasses on Carol's head!  So with a bit of photoshopping I put two pictures together and fixed the backdrop to make the bigger picture above.

Although even when Julie thinks she's escaped the photos we still manage to take sneaky pictures anyway... 
We announced that under one chair on every table there was a lucky ticket which entitled each winner to a prize of a box of chocolates...  posh turned to pandemonium for a few minutes while the chocoholics examined their chairs!

Then we all settled down to enjoy a lovely five course meal.

We were entertained by the excellent  'Sound Party' this year - and of course we also had Ben's 'Shooting Star' disco.  Thank you Ben for giving up your time for us each year.

As usual everyone soon got up to dance...

Roy and Anne
(mum and dad's friends) popped down to join us this year and were soon up on the dance floor as usual!

Ian presented Julie and I with a bouquet of flowers to say thanks for our work in helping with the events each year.  I can honestly say that it is a family effort and everyone helps out when needed.

But the flowers were a lovely surprise and very thoughtful so thank you Ian.

I think a bigger surprise for Julie was the fact that he had managed to get to the florist (and hide two bouquets!) unnoticed by her as he had been there at the florist's literally minutes after we'd been in to pick up the roses for the tables!

And the entrants for the 2011 poser are...

Who makes the most appearances?!..

It's always great to see all the ladies in their beautiful ball gowns and the men looking really dapper in their cummerbunds and bow ties at these events.  

And it's lovely to see our grandchildren/nieces/nephews growing up and maturing (even if it does make us feel a bit ancient!)   The whole evening was even more special this year in our fabulous 'marquee' room celebrating 10 years of fund raising.  

So another presentation  to Helena, another lovely letter received back in thanks and another write-up in the local paper to add to the scrapbook.

Thanks everyone!

One of the very generous raffle prize donations for this special ball had been an evening at Peterborough Dog Track.  

But not just any old evening - it included exclusive use of one of their indoor executive viewing areas, a hot and cold buffet meal for 50, the sponsorship of one of the races on the evening and the chance to present the prize to the winning greyhound owner. A HUGE prize!

We thought long and hard about how to make the best use of this donation and eventually came up with a solution.  Beechy contacted the manager at Peterborough Stadium to explain what we wanted to do - he was happy with that so we went ahead.

We organised a coach, set a date and Beechy announced that we would take 50 people on a first come, first served basis as a thank you to at least some of our event regulars. We charged for the coach plus a little extra so we made more money which we were able to add to our ball's BHF total.

It was nice to be able to give a little bit back to at least some of people who regularly support us - even though they had to pay for the privilege!  Julie, unwilling to waste an opportunity, organised some little raffles and thank you prizes for our time on the bus.  She was stopped from arranging a picnic for the journey...

We had a great evening in our executive seating area with grandstand views of the race course.  

The buffet was plentiful with lots of choice - all of which was  quite delicious! We had a bar just yards away and someone on call to take our bets - what more could we ask for?!
The manager popped down to introduce himself which was good as it gave us chance to thank him properly for the prize.

Our race had been named the Beechy and Jules BHF Stakes and I'm sure that we all had a little flutter on it.

I went down with Beechy (it was cold out there - Julie stayed inside in the warm!)  to present the prize to the winning owner and trainer - and Ian knew him!  It must be a small world in greyhound training - but remember that Ian and Robin had once owned and raced a greyhound called Hibreck Jules.

So all in all a good evening - although I don't think that anyone came back having made a profit!

Thank you to Peterborough Greyhounds for the raffle prize and to Beechy and Jules for organising the night out.


  1. Callum: nooooooooooooo

    Luisa: That's a gorgeous dress you're wearing R Emsk!! Hee hee!! x

    Callum: (i think its coz you wore it twice) giggle giggle snort!!! - i like trains!!!

    Luisa: Twice????? Haha!! That dress been to more charity balls than me!!! Haha!! xx Love ya R Em!!!! xx

    Callum: hi gags

    Luisa: It's a totally random moment!!

    Callum: yes mum, yes it is

  2. Hi Cal. Don't you think you look gorgeous in all the pictures?! I do! But I'm your gags so I'm allowed! x