At the beginning of December, Chestnut Tree House’s annual fundraising ball made its much-awaited return. The Snowman™-themed ball had been the biggest event on the charity’s fundraising calendar for over a decade, but when COVID-19 hit, Chestnut Tree House had to take the difficult decision to cancel the ball for 2020 and 2021.
This year it returned to Brighton. The Snowman™ at The Grand 2022 took place on Saturday 3 December and guests raised £142,387 for local children’s hospice care.
Inspired by Raymond Briggs’s classic picture book, The Snowman™, the ball was hosted by BBC Radio Sussex presenter, Allison Ferns. Along with entertainment and fundraising activities during the evening, there were also tributes to two important figures for Chestnut Tree House who sadly died earlier this year – charity Patron, Raymond Briggs; and Vice President, Ambrose Harcourt, who was instrumental in the opening of the children’s hospice almost 20 years ago.
The 350 guests, which included the charity’s Vice President, Sally Gunnell; enjoyed live music from Incognito Artists and party band Down for the Count. Fundraising activities included two auctions and a raffle to win a diamond necklace worth over £4,000, kindly donated by Wakefields Jewellers.
But the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the heartfelt speech by Ed Butler, who explained what Chestnut Tree House’s care and support mean to his six-year-old son, Archie, and the rest of the family. Archie was born with half a heart and Ed and his wife was told very early on that Archie’s life was limited. He had his first heart surgery at 10 days old and stayed in hospital for eight months due to his complex medical needs.
When they were finally able to take him home, the family were introduced to Chestnut Tree House. Archie is currently in good health, but they don’t know what the future holds. Ed talked about how Chestnut Tree House provides short breaks for Archie and support for the whole family. And the importance of knowing that the hospice will be there for them, whatever happens next.
Ed’s speech was followed by the main auction, led by sports impressionist and comedian, Aaron James. There were a host of experiences for guests to bid on, including a flight in a Spitfire; the chance to learn to cook with MasterChef Champion 2018, Kenny Tutt; a VIP experience at Goodwood Festival of Speed; and the opportunity to feature in a future Peter James novel. Several guests also stood at the end of the auction to pledge £10,000 to ‘Pay for a Day’ of care at Chestnut Tree House. In addition, there was the opportunity to pay for care – from multisensory experiences and family swims to a nurse home visit – via the Silent Auction site, which also included 30 items and experiences to bid on.
Amanda Fadero, CEO at Chestnut Tree House said:
“We are so grateful to everyone who joined us at The Snowman at The Grand. All our supporters play a vital role in ensuring that local children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions receive the care and support they deserve. And it’s thanks to our guests’ amazing generosity that an incredible £142,387 was raised on the night.
“Every day, I have the privilege of seeing the huge difference our community’s support makes to children and families, and I can’t thank everyone enough for that. The money raised at the ball is enough to pay for over two weeks of care, both at the hospice and in families’ own homes, which will make a huge difference.
“There are so many people to thank, but the event wouldn’t be the same without the support of our friend and Patron, Raymond Briggs, who sadly died earlier this year. Likewise, Ambrose Harcourt, who was an integral part of the charity from the start and sadly died recently. It was an honour to have Ambrose’s wife and friends in the room on the night.
“The Snowman at The Grand wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors. We’d like to thank First Central, Temco, IT Document Solutions and The Grand Brighton for supporting the event this year.
“Last, but by no means least, I’d like to say a special thank you to our speaker, Ed, who very kindly shared his story with the guests. It was a privilege to hear about his son, Archie, and it reminded everyone why we do what we do for Chestnut Tree House – to ensure that children like Archie receive the care and support they need, now and in the future.”
The Snowman™ at The Grand will be back next year, taking place on Saturday 2 December 2023.
For more information about Chestnut Tree House, please visit: www.chestnut.org.uk.