FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS

Charity Balls, like Golf Days and busses, seem to come along in threes.  Yet whereas shotgun starts and four balls’ is all part of a sport I have never had an interest in, I will rarely say no to a good meal, a bit of entertainment and a dance.  Thus last night, the Kent MS Therapy Centre Red Carpet Ball at the Canterbury Rugby Club was the last (for now) in a long run of such occasions that collectively have raised a staggering amount of money for many good and varied causes. It was simply sublime.

 

When I was asked to attend the Heart of Kent Hospice James Bond themed Ball on the 15th March, I had to dig deep in my wardrobe in search of my dinner jacket and all its accoutrements and when Mrs P decided that she would buy a new orange Ball gown for the occasion – as is our custom – I went in search of a bow tie to match. The night began with me finding in my pockets, raffle tickets and other scraps of paper – all relating to the last Ball we had attended in the autumn of last year. The new season was finally upon us it seemed.

 

The following weekend it was to the Four Pillars Hotel in Oxford, an event at which fundraising was not the main object, but nevertheless donations for gleefully extracted from the wallets of many – this time in support of the St Marks Hospital Foundation – with yours truly having a small part to play in auctioning off some Eurostar tickets.

 

After a short interregnum in these glittering occasions, it was next to Belfast that we transported ourselves (well Flybe did if truth be told), joining 498 others in the glorious La Mon Country House Hotel and Spa for a stunning night of fundraising and fun – this time for Fields of life, whose ambition it was to raise enough money in that single evening to build a school in Rwanda.  That they did so is due in no small part to the amazing organisational skills of a handful of staff from the charity’s Craigavon office.

 

The weekend before last saw us check into the wonderful Castle and Ball Hotel on Marlborough High Street (the widest commercial thoroughfare in England I am told) and once booted and suited, saunter across the road to the Town Hall for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Diamond Ball.  A beautiful 15 year old young lady called Moesha gracing the room with her amazing voice – a powerful video the backdrop - was undoubtedly the highlight in this grand affair - the entire success once again being down to a couple of people who organised it all.

 

And so to the event at Canterbury Rugby Club last night.  Organised and made successful by the gargantuan efforts of Mary Daly –a woman who was virtually paralysed by Multiple Sclerosis not so long ago but who through a combination of determination, hard work and her catholic faith has become a tireless campaigner to build a £1.3 million centre.  The fact that the charity are over half way there is due in now small part to Mary and her husband Michael.

 

And now it seems the season for Balls has passed.  Next week I will put away my dinner jacket and collection of bow ties and dust of my walking boots and outdoor ephemera to board a plane for Entebbe to do something ridiculous. Together with a dozen others, I will climb 14,000 feet to the top of Mount Elgon on the Ugandan/Kenyan border and as I do so, I doubt my mind will ever lapse into contemplations or reflections on glitzy Balls with me throwing shapes – rather badly – on some dance floor.  Instead, I will be battling altitude sickness, wrestling with heavy, dripping heat by day and freezing, foot numbing cold by night.  At the end of it though, there will be two prizes. The first temporal and self-indulgent, the second spiritual and one hopes selfless.  I will - you see - drink my first bottle of beer in nearly 6 months as the triumph of success in achieving this epic goal brings an end to my self-imposed teetotalism.  I will also – with the others who will climb with me – be raising funds to bring education and clean water to a rural village in East Africa.  If you like to be a part of that triumph you can.  All you have to do is visit https://www.justgiving.com/DAVID-PHILPOTT and sponsor me.

 

Through all of this, one thing is certain. Whether a am boogying on down or stretching sinew and muscle, I will be having a ball.