Colchester NSPCC celebrates fifth year of annual fundraising event

Fifth year celebrations of an annual fundraising event

The Colchester NSPCC’s Emerald Ball 2013 set to raise monies for local children’s projects

The Colchester NSPCC Business Group is celebrating its 5th year of success having raised tens of thousands of pounds for local projects of the NSPCC since the group was first formed.

Katie Skingle, chairperson for the group said, “In 2008, ten local businesses joined together to put on fundraising events in support of a national children’s charity to the benefit of our local children.  The ability to raise funds for the NSPCC services on a local was a concept that many businesses and individuals could easily get behind and support.  Although we have had changing faces within the main committee, we have always had fantastic people on board that have stayed on as associate members to help as and when they can – we hope to have a committee member back shortly from maternity leave!”

Companies currently serving on the committee include KAT Creativ, Fisher Jones Greenwood, firstsite, Colchester SEO company, Marketme.tv and Go Bananas.

The Emerald Ball 2013 is taking place at Weston Homes Stadium on 10th November and has already sold 150 tickets with their earlybird booking offer of £50 per ticket.  This year’s ball has returned home to its very first venue as it celebrates its anniversary with a woodland theme.  The event ticket includes a champagne reception, 3 course meal and table wine, 5 piece band and the usual feast of entertainment on offer at this exclusive event such as casino tables and chocolate fountains.

“Stewart White from Look East has agreed to compere the auction again this year and we have added value in the form of a beautiful performance from the children at LR School of Dance and  surprises from the Lakeside Theatre Company.  We will make this the best fundraiser we have ever held and raise more for abused and neglected children in our hometown in a year that has seen some horror stories in the national press unfold.  Now is the time to put our hands in our pockets and support the goodwork of the NSPCC that becomes more challenging every day.” Katie continues.

Pat Laurie, the NSPCC’s East Essex branch Chair says, “Katie had decided she wanted to give something back to the local community and almost before I knew it, Katie had started a committee.  We were thrilled that we would be getting strong corporate support in Colchester.”

“One of the reasons I started my business KAT Creativ,” says Katie, “was so that I could provide for my daughter.  But being able to do that also made me think about other children, whose parents couldn’t do what I was doing, or who needed help in other ways, and although charitable giving is important, I thought as a local businesswoman, I could do more. Bringing lots of like-minded businesspeople together gave us the potential to raise a lot more.”

The first thing Katie and her colleagues on the committee did was to start organising the first Emerald Ball, which was held on 29th November 2008. With the Weston Business Centre on the founder committee, it made sense to choose the recently completed Weston Homes Community Stadium – the home of Colchester United – as the venue for their first big event. The inaugural Emerald Ball attracted more than 200 guests and – in the middle of a recession – raised £5,730. Since then, three more balls have raised over £20,000. With stilt-walkers, fire-breathers, casino tables, dinner and dancing, they’ve become one of the biggest and best charity events in the area.

The business group has also held awareness raising events including talks to business groups given by Katie, an information stall at the Early Learning Centre toy shop in Colchester’s Culver Square and charity film screenings at new Colchester venue firstsite.

The money they’ve raised helps the NSPCC fund services for Colchester, such as ChildLine. Between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012, ChildLine received 661 landline and payphone calls from the Colchester area. (*Landline and payphone calls represent only 23% of the calls ChildLine receives.)

Pat says, “Each week at least one child dies from cruelty. Every year 19,000 adolescents attempt suicide. The NSPCC needs the continued support of businesses to increase the provision of its vital services for children.”

Funds raised by the group also help local services like the NSPCC Essex Young Witness Project, which provides support and preparation to young people in Essex who are required to give evidence in criminal trials. “Giving evidence in court can often be a distressing and traumatic experience for young people,” says Pat, “so the project aims to take as much stress and unpleasantness out of the process as it can. Trained volunteers prepare and support the young witnesses through the whole process.”

Katie says, “This your opportunity to play a role in putting an end to child abuse and the group is stressing that individual actions can, and do contribute to ending abuse.  The Colchester NSPCC Business Group’s first five years have been superb. I want to thank every one of my friends in the business community for caring enough to give their time and money. We’re looking for more people to join us in our charitable endeavors, so if you would like to get involved, we’d love to hear from you.”

The group’s work is much appreciated by the NSPCC. Gwen Pearson, Head of Local Fundraising for London North and East of England says, “We’re so pleased to have such a fantastic group of supporters in the form of the new NSPCC Business Groups, who have raised such wonderful sums to support the vital work we do.  The Colchester NSPCC Business Group should be proud of its achievements and my great thanks to Katie Skingle as its founder and creator.”

Posted by Clare Kersey

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