In Venice they call it Carnevale. Here in Blackpool we call it CARERvale!
Blackpool turned into Venice when the Imperial Hotel hosted Blackpool Carers Centre’s Venetian masquerade ball (see gallery of images at the end of this article).
Even Scaramouche would have danced the fandango as more than 300 guests, dressed to impress, peered out from behind masks that amused, dazzled, thrilled or chilled, as the slightly sinister but alluring spirit and style of Venice Carnevale stalking the corridors of power in the resort’s most historic hotel.
This was the charity’s night. Revellers entered to find masks made by carers on sale in the main lobby. Churchill presided over the prizes in the room named in his honour. Magic Mirror and roulette had been set up in the Louis Suite. The Derby Room and Aperitif Bar were pressed into carers’ service too.
All paths led to the Lancastrian Suite transformed into ballroom, bedecked with 500 balloons, many containing prize slips, under orders to be “popped AFTER the comfort break at 9.45pm.”
Guests enjoyed a divinely decadent four course dinner, party games, danced till the early hours to the songs of compere Phil Swift and the Trident Trio, before – fortified by a bacon or veggie butty – stepping back into a decidedly Venice-like February night, wet and windy, the comically long noses on some of the ‘Scaramouche’ and ‘capitano’ masks drooping, the colours on the more fantastic creations mingling with the rain.
But what a night!
All were there to raise money for, and awareness of, Blackpool Carers Centre and to enjoy themselves. Including star guest Lucy Fallon (aka Bethany of Coronation Street) who stepped in out of the rain and brought sunshine with her – in the form of a gorgeous yellow gown.
Escorted by partner Tom Leech, mum Angela, family and friends, Lucy delighted volunteers by buying a gold -hued matching mask made by carers. Tom followed suit.
The glittering masquerade ball marked Lucy’s debut at a major event as the charity’s ambassador, joining fellow ambassador Hayley Kay – who was on dazzling form – to present special recognition awards.
Both gave generously of their time and smiles, posing for endless selfies with guests as well as formal pictures – including with the High Sheriff of Lancashire Anthony (Tony) Attard OBE DL and his wife Patricia and Blackpool Carers patron (and former High Sheriff) John Barnett MBE and wife Danielle. Blackpool Mayor and Mayoress Councillors Gary and Debbie Coleman also attended.
Lucy said: “We all had a lovely time. It’s very important for me to give something back to Blackpool, particularly young people in Blackpool and help in some way. I’m one of the lucky ones. I think Blackpool Carers Centre does great work. I’m very happy to support them.”
The charity works with over 6000 families. Chair of trustees Paul Jebb asked ball goers to remember “those people who would love a night like this, surrounded by family and friends, but who are unable to leave the person they love and care for.”
The event raised £11,000.
The Social Care Special Recognition Award to the Complex Needs Team who have supported the charity’s Parent Carer project (award received by Parent Carer lead worker Hannah Fletcher on their behalf).
Health Special Recognition Award jointly to Central East HUB for ensuring the charity’s support workers are at the fore of carer identification and early intervention (award received by Faye Burke and HUB team) and North HUB for helping the charity improve health and wellbeing of carers and families and increase the number of new carers coming through (award received by the charity’s head of services Faye Atherton on the HUB’s behalf).
Community Partnership Award to the Grand Theatre for helping young carers thrive through respite, creative learning, book making and dance sessions, exhibiting young carers’ work and making theatre accessible. The theatre’s CEO Ruth Eastwood received the award with members of her team.
Educational Establishment of the Year Award to Kincraig Primary School, Bispham, winners of the charity’s Schools’ Super Snap Competition on Young Carers Awareness Day last year, for their continued work in school for young carers and to raise awareness in the wider community. Head teacher Karen Appleby received the award.
Special Achievement Award to Beaverbrooks Charitable Trust – for the gift of Beaverbrooks House to the charity and their continued support and guidance including funding the pivotal role of volunteer coordinator and volunteering their own time and expertise and staff. The award was received by Beaverbrooks’ charity manager Susie Nicholas.
Young Fundraiser of the Year award went to Kodi Spencer, eight, who cycled coast to coast, from Tynemouth to Whitehaven, last July with his dad and grandparents, in six days, covering 180 miles and raising £370 for Blackpool Carers Centre.
Entertainment was provided by compere Phil Swift and the Trident Trio. David Sidwell from Your Big Day Wedding and Event Services, DIY SOS volunteer for the Big Build for Children in Need in 2016, provided the dance floor, Magic Mirror and room lighting. Spire Fylde Coast Hospital sponsored the Fantasy Fizz reception. Sandcastle Waterpark sponsored the awards. Lorica Insurance sponsored the table favours, Chapeau Events sponsored the table plan, and prizes to the value of £15,000 were donated.