Willow blog

Willow at Heart Award unveiled at the Willow Ball

December 1, 2017

The Willow family came together on Saturday 18th November at the prestigious Royal Lancaster for the annual Ball. An incredible network of loyal individuals contributed to another successful year, raising more than £300,000 and supporting an incredible 260 Special Days.

This year’s Ball was a particularly memorable evening as it marked the launch of the Willow at Heart Award. This Award will run every year and be used to recognise the contributions of key individuals or groups which have had a significant impact on the growth of Willow.  

The first Award was dedicated to Willow’s founding Chief Executive, David Williams, in recognition of his contribution to the charity. David sadly lost his fight against cancer earlier this year, but leaves behind him an incredible legacy within the Charity and one we are all very much grateful to. The stunning trophy, designed by Peter Layton at London Glassblowing, was presented to David’s family on the night.

We were also honoured to welcome two of our beneficiaries to speak during a powerful segment led by Mary Nightingale. Sarah and Bonnie talked about what their Special Day meant to them and their families.

Bonnie, who is living with incurable breast cancer, described the lasting impact her Special Day had on the whole family, telling guests; “I will never forget my Special Day. I am making a scrapbook with all of the photos and special things I was given during my stay and that will be something my son will be able to look at for years to come. It was the greatest way to celebrate just how far we’d come and that, despite all the awful things that have happened, that there is still so much good in the world.”

Sarah explained how her husband’s Special Day made a difference, “Wayne has been struggling with this incurable disease since his diagnosis in 2011, just after the birth of our first son. He has had to make so many sacrifices. On the really difficult days I often have to be both mum and dad. We are constantly fighting to find a new normal that hinges on uncertainty.  Our Special Day at the Liverpool game was a chance for us all to be who we once were. To give our children the opportunity to see daddy enjoying himself, sharing his love of football, creating a memory that will stay with them forever. A rare opportunity to have control over our lives again. Our Special Day meant my husband being a father again.”

The well known broadcaster and former Rugby Union football, Martin Bayfield, was the host and auctioneer for the night and supported by entertainment from Tenors & Divas Incognito, Lucy Kane and Dover Street Big Band; plus Willow Ambassadors and celebrity guests including Marvin Berglas; Martin Chivers; Sam Kane; Linda Lusardi; Simon McCoy; Jim Rosenthal; David & Frankie Seaman; Katie Swan, Rory Underwood and Clive Wilson.  An unforgettable event.

This year’s Willow Ball was kindly sponsored by Corrine and Duncan Sinclair, with both Next and Godshaw Jewellers donating stunning gifts for the guests.

View photographs from the Willow Ball.