Golden goal achieved at anniversary Ball

We smashed through our £500,000 target on Saturday night thanks to funds raised at our 50th Anniversary Ball.

Held at The Grand Hotel in Brighton, our Golden Jubilee gala event played host to over 400 supporters who helped celebrate Rockinghorse’s milestone year. We launched our anniversary appeal ‘Sussex Giving for Sussex Children’ last October with the aim to raise half a million pounds. £115,000 was raised at the Ball, of which every penny will be going towards our appeal. The total was reached thanks to a very generous additional donation by local businessman Michael Blencowe on behalf of the Blencowe family, who presented us with a cheque for £45,000 on the night. This has enabled us to reach our £500,000 target two months before the end of the year!

The Ball was compered by Danny Pike from BBC Sussex, with guests enjoying a sumptuous three-course dinner plus a cheese course provided by La Cave á Fromage. Entertainment was provided by ‘singing waiters’ Opera on the Run, who surprised guests with their humorous and energetic performance. It was a rush to the dance floor as headline act The Fab Beatles – the UK’s number one Beatles tribute band – took to the stage to perform the bands greatest hits. The event was sponsored by DMH Stallard and the firm marked their own celebrations on the night as managing partner, Richard Pollins, also turned 50 this year. Co-sponsors were Cardens, City Cabs Brighton, The Grand Brighton and Rivervale.

Our charity auction proved a hit with many exclusive prizes available for generous bidders – including a money-can-buy ‘Forever in Fiction’ auction lot kindly donated by award-winning author Peter James. He was present on the night and spoke about the opportunity he had offered for a lucky bidder to have a character with their name in a future Roy Grace novel. The Brighton and Hove Bus Company created a ‘mini’ Rockinghorse bus which they had donated for auction – a replica of the full-scale special edition bus, currently on the roads of Brighton, Hove and Sussex, kindly gifted to us by the bus company – which has generously been donated to the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital.

Last month we revealed we have already been able to complete five out of 10 beneficiary projects, thanks to funds already raised for the appeal. They are; the introduction of a Paediatric Emergency Airway Trolley for Worthing Hospital’s Bluefin Ward; an ongoing activities programme for young people being treated at Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Unit in Haywards Heath; a new outdoor play area at The Bungalow residential home for young people with learning disabilities in Eastbourne; funding for 20 defibrillators to be placed in schools around Sussex to support The Connor Saunders Foundation, and; a garden log cabin sensory space for young residents with learning disabilities at Tudor House in Brighton.

The projects awaiting completion are; an asthma clinical trial at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton; the introduction of a Metavision system for the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit and its sister site the Special Care Baby Unit in Haywards Heath, alongside a complete unit reconfiguration; an additional soft play and sensory space at Finches short breaks centre in Burgess Hill, and; £50,000 worth of funding towards the Chailey Heritage Foundation’s D.R.E.A.M. Centre in Lewes.

Parent Joanna Balmer spoke at the Ball about her family’s experiences of Tudor House respite centre in Brighton – one of our beneficiary projects. She talked about her son Saul, who relies not only on the services provided by Tudor House, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, explaining the impact our charity has had on supporting them, and other families like them.

Ryan Heal, Chief Executive of Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, addressed the room and spoke of his love for Rockinghorse. He said: “I feel a huge sense of pride stood before you this evening as Chief Executive of this wonderful cause. Rockinghorse means so much to me, and I know I am not alone. I have always positioned myself as a Rockinghorse supporter who happens to be the CEO. My own family could look and feel very different today without the work of the charity; providing life-saving medical equipment, resource, counselling, respite, research and all-round support for the children in our community that need our help the most.

“For any charity to be going strong for 50 years is quite incredible. To have had the impact that Rockinghorse has had over half a century is nothing short of miraculous. When Dr Trevor Mann started the charity in 1967, I’m sure he would be very proud that his vision still means so much to so many today. The impact of our 50th anniversary appeal will ensure continued support for thousands of sick children in Sussex for many years to come. Thank you so very much for your ongoing support of Rockinghorse – here’s to the next 50 years!”

Of course, events like this don’t happen without the support of many generous businesses and individuals, so to everyone who supported, participated, attended, and donated, a very big THANK YOU!

All the pictures from our 50th Anniversary Ball are available to view on our Facebook page by clicking here. Thanks to our wonderful photographer Stephen Johnson for donating his time to take pictures on the night. Prints can be ordered via his website www.stephenjohnsonphotography.com where he’ll be donating 50% of the money raised from all orders back to us.

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