Singer Peter Andre was the surprise guest at The Snowman Spectacular Ball in Brighton on Saturday, and event which raised a staggering £516,230 for Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice.
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.
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.
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.”