Willow blog

Arsène Wenger joins Bob on stage at the 2018 Willow Ball

November 29, 2018

The annual Willow Ball saw supporters old & new enjoy an incredible night of fun and fundraising at the Royal Lancaster on November 17. A record breaking £347,000 was raised on the night which will make another 277 Special Days a reality for those living with serious illness.

The Willow Ball, hosted by former Rugby professional Martin Bayfield, saw the second Willow at Heart Award granted to dedicated fundraiser, Richard Davis.  

Since his first challenge in 2008, to run a marathon on every continent, Richard has undertaken 94 physical challenges, raising more than £81,500 for the Charity.  Richard gave a heart-warming acceptance speech pledging his continued support – to kayak around the Isle of Wight next year!

The Willow story was told through a touching short film of Kelly’s Special Day. 
27 year old Kelly was diagnosed with Leukeamia whilst working in the Philippines.  Receiving the news while alone in a foreign country was really devastating for Kelly, having to deal with the diagnosis and first stages of treatment with her family thousands of miles away.  Kelly was eventually able to return to the UK, to her family, and continue her treatment back home.   After the toughest year of her life, Kelly was offered support from Willow.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer, it completely changed my life and turned my world upside down, but it also taught me an awful lot. I realised that in life, it’s not the material things that matter, it’s about the experiences, the memories, and spending time with your loved ones. If I had to look back on my life, it wouldn’t matter what handbag I had, or what car I drove, what was important to me was all the things I had done and the time I had spent with the people I love.”

A captivating Q&A with Arsene Wenger was a treat for Arsenal fans in the room and fascinating for all, with Bob Wilson in conversation with the former Arsenal manager, hearing behind the scenes stories.

There were plenty of laughs for guests thanks to internationally acclaimed comedy pianist, Kev Orkian, with musical entertainment from Free to Roam and The Sensation Band, who filled the dance floor.

Celebrity guests included Willow Ambassadors, Martin Chivers; Lee Dixon; Sam Kane; Linda Lusardi; Simon McCoy; Mary Nightingale; Frankie Seaman and David Seaman MBE alongside Theo Paphitis, Paul Fenwick and Mark Hunter MBE

This year marked the final Willow Ball to be sponsored by Corrine & Duncan Sinclair.  Duncan’s support over so many years is immeasurable and his generosity has enabled Willow to grow beyond all expectations.  Huge thanks and enormous gratitude goes to Duncan for his funding over the past 14 years.  

View photographs from the Willow Ball