22nd September 2017 was the date of the inaugural Fall Ball in aid of the Plymouth Parent Advocacy Project. As part of the committee that organised the event, I am honoured to help fundraise for such an incredible cause.
Laura Geach (Wolferstans), Andrew Wonnacott (GA Solicitors), Peter Ash (Nash & Co) and I have all represented parents who would have struggled to navigate and participate in public law proceedings without the invaluable support provided by Independent Parent Advocate, Claire Stowe, with further support offered by General Advocate, Karen Mallinson, when more than one parent has a learning need.
Having the Local Authority involved with your children must be a terrifying experience. Add a learning disability to the mix and it becomes even more so. At any given time, Claire’s case load ranges from 18 to 30 cases. She and the team work tirelessly to support parents with learning disabilities in these circumstances, providing support from the child protection stage right through to post Final Orders.
The support provided by Project is often the reason that some of these parents retain the capacity to give instructions, and the importance of this cannot be overstated.
I began my fundraising journey for this important service in April 2017 by running the London Marathon, continuing in June 2017 with the Classic Quarter which I ran with Anne Shears from The Family Law Company, Bill Wilkins of Stephens Scown and Peter Ash. It was after the Classic Quarter that I pitched the idea of a fundraising committee to Laura, Andrew, and Peter, and the Fall Ball blossomed from there.
The ball, sponsored by our respective firms, KBG Chambers and Colleton Chambers and attended by around 150 of the great and good from Plymouth and surrounding areas, was a roaring success.
We had loads of support from the fantastic New Continental Hotel with its exceptional staff and beautiful ballroom. For entertainment, guests enjoyed a performance from renowned local singer/songwriter Christian Sleep, plus a debut performance from local burlesque dancer Raspberry Cardinale and the outstanding talents of the Harry Peanut Show, featuring Peter Ash on bass and our very own Mark Langsworthy on saxophone.
Auction lots and raffle prizes were donated by many local supporters including local artists Rosemary Bonney (www.rosemarybonney.co.uk) and Jack Hayes (www.north55gallery.com), and fabulous handmade wares from local barristers Claire Appleby and Chris Godfrey.
We are finalising figures now, but anticipate that this event alone has raised around £5,000, which is a breath-taking figure. The total raised from the ball, the marathon run and the Classic Quarter is around £6,600, a phenomenal amount far exceeding my wildest expectations.
I am so very proud of “Team Awesome.”
The sleepless nights and hours of planning were entirely worthwhile, and discussions are already being held about the next ball. Watch this space for details of a fundraising quiz early next year and some of us taking on the challenge of the annual New Year’s Day Brown Willy run.