Breast Cancer charity ball a sell out

JON WELCH October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and among a host of fundraising events being held is a charity ball in aid of the EDP Breast Cancer Appeal, organised by six women with personal experience of the disease. jon welch reports.

JON WELCH

It's being billed as the event of the year in Norfolk, but if you haven't already got a ticket you're sadly out of luck. Next week's Think Pink! charity ball has been sold out since July, and with 120 people on the reserve list, tickets really are like gold dust.

The ball at Norwich City Football Club is one of a number of charity events being held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and is being held in aid of the EDP

Breast Cancer Appeal, which is helping to develop dedicated care facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn for women affected by breast cancer and their families.

It's a cause close to the heart of ball organiser Sarah Softley, who is organising the ball with a team of five other women, all of whom have friends or family who have had the disease.

They are: Kate Barker, of Northwood Letting Agency; Ruth Thomson, of Transformers hairdressers, Norwich; Lorna Blackmore, assistant director of corporate services at Broadland Housing Association; Fiona O'Hara of the Business Growth Development agency in Norwich; and Vicki Larkins, of chartered surveyors Davis Langdon.

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"My grandmother and my daughter's godmother and a school friend all had breast cancer and they all survived," said Sarah.

"There can't be a single person

who doesn't know somebody who has had breast cancer. It can affect anyone at any time, and not just women: it's men as well. It's something that we can beat if people are aware of it."

Sarah organised a similar ball two years ago, which was so successful it was the catalyst for her to launch her own company, Softley Events, which organises corporate events, weddings and private parties.

That event raised £14,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer - £4,000 more than the organisers had planned. This time they hope to match or even better that figure.

Planning for this year's ball, to be held on Saturday, October 14, started 14 months ago. Delia Smith has personally created a pink themed menu and Anglia TV's Kevin Piper will be master of ceremonies and auctioneer for the charity auction.

Some of this year's lots include a Vivienne Westwood dress, donated by the designer; a hot-air balloon flight, donated by Smith and Pinching; an overnight stay and spa treatment at the St Giles Hotel, Norwich; and a dinner party for six at your own home, complete with chef and waiting staff.

Local companies supporting the event include headline sponsors Jarrolds; The Gibraltar Gardens, sponsors of the champagne reception; and marketing company Dynamite, which has designed and produced all the promotional material for the event free-of-

charge.

Dynamite is also the name of the band that will be playing at the event.

Bennetts Electrical are sponsors of the table wine; Hemera Office Solutions will be sponsoring the balloons; and Signs Express are sponsoring the vodka luge.

A number of restaurateurs have donated a meal for two for the "meal tree" and an array of local businesses are either advertising or have made donations to the raffle or auction.

"We have received a phenomenal amount of interest in the event and tremendous support from local businesses," said Sarah.

"We are delighted that Jarrolds have agreed to be the headline sponsor for Think Pink! and to provide each ball-goer with their own take-away goody bag.

"On behalf of all of us involved in organising the event we'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who is supporting us to raise money for breast cancer."

Sarah feels the EDP Breast Cancer Appeal, supporting the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, is a particularly good cause. "It's local - we all live in the area - and every hospital should have a specialist unit for breast cancer," she said.

"I've been told by one of the guests the ball is being talked about as the event to attend this year. It promises to be a night to remember and should raise a great deal of cash for this very important project.

All 370 tickets for the event have been sold but the organisers are still keen to speak to anybody who would like to support the event. Please contact Sarah Softley on 01603 759336 or 07949 803311.

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