North West Spring Ball hosted by Claire Sweeney raises vital funds for Diabetes

North West Spring Ball

North West Spring Ball - Credit: Archant

Claire Sweeney hosted a fundraising gala in Cheshire, which helped to raise vital funds for Diabetes UK.

More than 250 high profile individuals and business leaders attended The North West Spring Ball on Saturday 22nd March to show their support for the charity and help raise vital funds.

The ball was organized by volunteers led by local businessman and entrepreneur Andrew Smith and former professional cricketer for Lancashire and Derbyshire, Luke Sutton.

Andrew and Susan Smith, who founded this group, explain how it came about:

“Our son, Richard, was 14 years old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and our daughter, Katie, was 13 when she was diagnosed two years later. “

“We first began supporting Diabetes UK in a small way. We signed up as members of the charity and started receiving Balance magazine, which is an incredibly good source of information and support, then started selling raffle tickets, filling collection boxes and donating when there was a significant birthday in the family.

“Then, three years ago, we decided – as a New Year’s resolution – to hold a variety of events throughout the year to raise as much money and awareness about diabetes as we could. We encouraged our friends to get involved and there were many enjoyable dinner parties, barbecues, race days, afternoon teas and golf days. Katie even did a parachute jump! These were all much more successful than we imagined, and it made us think we could expand on the idea.

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“We spoke to Matt Patten, Diabetes UK’s Senior Philanthropy Manager, about holding a large fundraising event. He was really supportive and introduced us to Luke and Jude Sutton.

Luke & Jude have twins, Amelie and Albie, who are 5, diagnosed with Type 1 at 2 and a half and 3. They have felt the impact of dealing with Type 1 massively and there is so much to learn about this incredibly complex disease. Luke & Jude have held cake sales, ladies afternoon tea’s and Jude has climbed the 3 peaks all in aid of Diabetes charities, and when they met Andrew and Susan they realised they had the same ideas on what makes a fabulous fundraising evening!’

The North West Committee evolved and got to work on organizing the North West Spring Ball in aid of Diabetes UK. It has been a lot of work for all of us, but well worth the effort!

The event took place at The Mere Golf and Resort Hotel in Knutsford. There was a champagne reception with entertainment provided by Dan Dan the Magic Man (age 10). His ambition is to be a big star like Dynamo – and from this performance alone, we can see his talent. His act was a huge success, amazing guests with his close up card tricks and his wonderful manner with guests.

Claire Sweeney then welcomed guests and entertained with a medley of songs from the show she formerly starred in, Chicago, involving one of the delighted guests!

During the evening, raffle tickets were sold; a silent auction (arranged by i-bid) and a main auction were held. There were many wonderful prizes available, most of which were donated by local businesses and individuals. Included in these was a Fiat 500S, a private tour and afternoon tea at the House of Lords, a weeks’ holiday in a luxury villa in Grenada and a Coaching session with Peter Moores the new England Cricket Coach to be held at Old Trafford to name but a few!

After dinner, The Singing Waiters performed their act – fooling guests into thinking they were actual waiters at the event, when in actual fact they are all extremely talented and experienced opera singers!

They performed many well-known numbers, encouraging guests to join in - which they did wholeheartedly - and they were a resounding success.

There followed a short film, made by Diabetes UK, featuring a variety of different people from the North West, both Type 1 and Type 2, sharing their experiences on living with this condition.

Richard Lane OBE, President of Diabetes UK attended the ball and gave a short account of the issues surrounding the condition.

There are more than 45,000 people living with diabetes in the North West. Around 90 per cent of these have Type 2 diabetes, which they may develop because of their family history or ethnicity, through being overweight or by having a large waist. The other 10 per cent have Type 1 diabetes. No one knows what causes it, but it is nothing to do with weight and is currently not preventable.

To complete the evening’s entertainment, the fabulous party band The Bogus Brothers performed, and provided a spectacular finale for the evening.

The event raised £40,000

The money raised from this event will help to make life better for the 3.8 million people living with diabetes in the UK. This includes training volunteers to help raise awareness of diabetes in the local community and also fund important research into both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Andrew said, “We’re hoping that we can build upon our success year after year. We’ve loved working with Matt, Luke and Jude on the committee and have learnt even more about diabetes.”

“Since Richard was first diagnosed, we have seen many improvements in managing the condition and we know this is down to the funds raised for vital research. There is so much more that can be done to improve the lives of those living with diabetes and we want to continue doing what we can to help.”

We are interested in talking to other like-minded individuals who may like to join us in future events.

The event we are currently planning for 2015 will be completely different, as we want to ring the changes and try other things, but hopefully, it will succeed, as did this year’s, in bringing people together, to have fun, and to raise funds and awareness for Diabetes UK.

If you are interested in becoming involved in our “committee”, please email