PHOTO GALLERY: Royal Norfolk Show Ball

Outside it may have been a windy and miserable British summer, but inside 2012's Royal Norfolk Show Ball, guests were transported to a magical woodland forest.

With a theme inspired by William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream play, the ball saw almost 800 guests flock to the Norfolk Showground last night.

The prestigious event is a highlight of Norfolk's social calendar each year in the run-up to the county's two-day agricultural show, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

This year the ball was in aid of the Friends of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, a group which funds equipment and projects to improve the lives of patients and their families.

The charity has recently paid for an ultrasound machine in the hospital's acute medical unit, light boxes to improve the environment for patients in radiology and a high dependency incubator cot in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Despite 40mph winds during the day and 30mph winds in the evening, the marquee was transformed into a fantasy woodland thanks to plants from Taverham Garden Centre, Notcutts and The Romantic Garden Nursery, and which were co-ordinated by florist Libby Ferris.

Reception drinks were accompanied by the Gallery String Quartet and other musical entertainment throughout the night included harpist Xenia Horne and the Ormiston Victory Academy Choir.

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The hospital works very closely with the Costessey school and invited the 16 choristers to perform.

Cocktail flarers impressed with their showy drink mixing skills and by creating concoctions such as Titania's Fancy and auctioneer Fabian Eagle presided over the live auction.

A silent auction was also held, with each table provided with two iPads so that online auction bids could be made and the highest bidding table identified to all the others to add an extra spark to the bidding wars.

The evening, sponsored by R G Carter, was also a chance for 28 members of the N&N's staff and volunteers to get involved, selling raffle tombola tickets.

David Prior, chairman of the Friends of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, told guests it was an honour for the charity to be chosen to benefit from the ball.

Beth Coley, the hospital's fundraising manager, said: 'It's been a real team effort and so many people from different parts of the hospital have come together for the night. We'd like to thank everyone who has supported us in making the event a success.'

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