A night to remember!
The inaugural FBC Dinner Dance
What an amazing night was had by all those who attended the first ever Fight Bladder Cancer Dinner Dance on 5th September 2015 at the Village Urban Resort, Solihull. On this beautiful day in September over a hundred and twenty five people gathered to celebrate the life of one very special young lady, and commemorate other loved ones lost to bladder cancer.
The brainchild of Spike and James, the Dance was a memorial event for Sarah (their fellow bladder buddy), a vibrant young woman and inspirational member of the FBC family, who we sadly lost to bladder cancer at the end of last year. It was an exceptional evening of joy, tears, laughter … and some pretty hardcore partying!
James, Spike and their crack team worked all day to transform the suite of rooms into a magical orange and black wonderland, with lavish table decorations, balloons, sparkles and traces of fairy dust. (Extra special thanks must go here to the awesome duo of Snettie and Nic, who provided the all important woman's touch.)
Guests started arriving from lunchtime and the reception staff watched in bemused amazement as strangers raced across the room to embrace before booking in. There were happy tears as some members of the forum finally got to meet their online family, while others were delighted to be reunited once more. In the midst of all this coming and going the Dinner Dance team were still beavering away with table plans and adjustments, making sure everything was perfect.
As the sunshine turned to dusk the evening got underway, with our hosts welcoming everyone to the bar as they arrived in their glad rags. After having an aperitif, guests were invited to a special area for formal photographs – with some truly lovely memories captured for posterity.
Dinner was wonderful, with an unplanned but interesting ramble around the hotel perimeter between courses, courtesy of a dodgy fire sensor which had decided that the helium balloons were dangerous! Spike and James were an excellent and hilarious compering double act throughout the night, making us laugh and keeping everything on track.
After dinner, Snettie took to the floor to introduce the beautiful memorial video that she and her family had created specially for the event. Do take a look at this wonderful and moving tribute to our much missed bladder buddies.
As you can imagine, there wasn't a dry eye in the house at the end of the film. We blew bubbles to remember those we had lost and those still fighting, then raised a toast in their honour.
After a little musical sustenance in the form of Bob Marley's, Three Little Birds (to lift our spirits and make us smile) our dynamic hosting duo thanked everyone who had made the night so special and gave out some beautiful bouquets as tokens of their appreciation. (Full details of all the amazing people involved in the dance can be found at the bottom of this post). They also made a special presentation to Andrew and T, co-founders of Fight Bladder Cancer and now Director and Chairman. A specially commissioned piece of coloured glasswork, the fused glass painting had been funded by donations from lots of bladder buddies as a sign of their thanks for all the couple do. Ally Woo had hand drawn the couple to replicate the style of the stick figures on the FBC website, even including their tabby cat! Then artist Paul Floyd had used this as the basis of his piece. They were delighted and extremely touched to receive such a personal gift.
Then it was time for the main fundraisers of the night. First up was the talented and generous Mandy, who had spent many months crocheting a special blanket to be raffled on the night. This wasn't just any crochet blanket though – each square had been sponsored by a forum member, either for themselves or as a tribute to someone dear. Mandy had painstakingly designed and crocheted unique individual squares and detailed each design and who it was for in a special commemorative book to accompany the finished blanket. As you can imagine, there was a huge amount of interest in who won such a beautiful and moving piece of yarn art.
As a hush fell over the room, the winning ticket was drawn and the blanket was won by Tracy IJ (to enthusiastic applause in the audience). To everyone's surprise and admiration, Tracy decided that although she would love to keep the blanket, it was more important to her to raise as much money as possible for the charity, so she donated it straight back as an auction lot. After some fierce bidding from the floor, the winning bid of the night came from Julie, one of our sky divers from the previous year, who had lost her father to bladder cancer.
Then it was on to the main raffle and silent auction organised by Paula, the FBC fundraising and events champion. There were some brilliant lots to bid on, including glamping in the Lake District and a wonderful weekend photography course, as well as signed goodies from Wayne Rooney. The raffle was also packed with prizes, thanks to Paula's hard work and the generosity of forum members’ donations. There were cheers of excitement as table after table had winners, and happy smiles all round as people came away with arms full of goodies.
It was time for everyone to let their hair down! We were extremely lucky that one of our forum members had offered us their band for the night. Ian, the bass player, who has bladder cancer himself, and his wife Karen, generously donated their band for the evening. Spirit of the Sixties were totally awesome and rocked the room. Not that they were short of some enthusiastic dancers! The dance floor was full from the very first song with everyone giving it their all. The partying continued into the wee small hours including the obligatory conga around the room. It ended with a final flourish, a rousing version of You'll Never Walk Alone which we all joined in with as we linked hands.
This truly remarkable night was testament to the enormous amount of work and planning that had gone into it by the team. It raised over £4000 for Fight Bladder Cancer.
Even better? They're going to do it all again next year!
Much like the Oscars there is a huge list of extra people to thank, without whom the evening just wouldn't have been possible:
Alan W, Annette W, Charlie M, Elaine H, James H, Jay MB, John H, Jules S, Nic M, Richard TS, Spike M, Tracy IJ and waitressing staff from the Village Resort.
Charlie M, Jay MB, Paul M
Memorial DVD, table scrolls, posters & bubble machine:
Paul Floyd from Transparent Glass Studios
THANK YOU! x