Can you share the inspiration behind organising the Prestonfield Spring Ball and choosing Crohn's & Colitis UK as one of the beneficiaries?
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2006 and have volunteered for the charity in a number of capacities since 2008. My dream had always been to put on a black-tie fundraiser at a prestigious venue. However, in the early years, I did not have the necessary contacts to get such an event off the ground. Instead, I organised a fun (but more modest) ceilidh to raise funds. Each year I contacted local businesses to ask for prize donations to raffle on the night. The success rate from such a cold calling exercise is typically pretty low but luckily for me one of my requests landed on Alan McGuiggan’s desk.
Alan was and still is the general manager of the Prestonfield Hotel. Not only did Alan donate a fantastic prize for us to raffle on the night but he also invited me to Prestonfield to discuss combining forces to organise an event on a much bigger scale!
I got involved due to a close family member being diagnosed Colitis. It was a frightening time for us as a family, but fortunately it passed quickly and we have been enjoying remission for some time. When we started, no one talked about the conditions so awareness was a major factor. Scotland football Captain, Darren Fletcher’s diagnosis lead to major media awareness and coverage. His sister has also been a great supporter of The Spring Ball and Prestonfield for many years.
The Spring Ball would not have got off the ground without the exceptional generosity of James Thomson, the proprietor of Prestonfield, who believed in it and wanted to help. James sponsored many elements of the event to get it off the ground and continues to be the main sponsor.
Last year was the 10th anniversary of the Prestonfield Spring Ball, what can attendees expect from this years event?
2024 will actually be our 13th anniversary (we missed 2 years due to the Covid pandemic). The Prestonfield hospitality experience is second to none. Set in the stunning Stables, guests will enjoy a delicious three course dinner accompanied by fine wines and mocktails.
One of our key aims is to make sure our guests have a fun evening. With Forth 1’s Boogie back in the MC role and Grant Stott as our guest auctioneer, there are guaranteed to be a lot of laughs. We have exceptional live music acts lined up to get the dance floor rocking and a few surprises up our sleeves too.
Have you got any plans to raise awareness about Crohn's and Colitis during the event?
We have three areas of focus for the Spring Ball – Fun, Fundraising and Awareness.
The fun bit is easy – Our guests know how to have a good time and year after year the quality of entertainment ensures everyone leaves with huge smiles on their faces!
Fundraising – The committee works hard each year to pull together top quality auction prizes to raise funds for our chosen charities.
Awareness - Our committee members and many of our guests have personal connections to the work of Crohn’s and Colitis UK and Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity. We absolutely want to continue to raise the profiles of both of these fantastic charities. Boogie, the host of Forth One’s Breakfast Show lives with Crohn’s Disease and is passionate about raising awareness about these conditions.
On the night, we will also broadcast a video showcasing the work of the IBD team at the ECHC including interviews with children with Crohn’s or Colitis and their parents. Finally, the event brochure will contain further information about the conditions.
Over the last 10 years, you’ve raised an astounding £600,000 for families affected by Crohn’s and Colitis. How will this years funds be spent?
The money raised will be split between clinical and research activities, and for patient and family support from Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity, primarily via their wellbeing team.
In some of the paediatric IBD research supported by these funds we have:
- Shown how common paediatric IBD is in Scotland and the remarkable increase in new cases of paediatric IBD - 950% in just 2 generations.
- Used research to look at potential risk factors at birth, and showed no association with paediatric IBD in over 2 million births in Scotland.
- Looked at risks for children with IBD who have been prescribed strong immunosuppressant drugs as they grown older into early adulthood.
In terms of paediatric IBD patient comfort we have:
- Purchased buzzy bee devices for children who have a fear of pain at drug injections and sharp procedures.
- We purchased a hi-tech vein finder for children discomforted by blood samples and cannulas for our infusion area in our day case ward.
- Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity have provided a dedicated child and family well being specialist to support families through diagnosis and treatment.
Why fundraising matters.
Louis has been facing the challenges of Crohn's Disease since he was only 4. He was still a toddler when his Mum, Stacey noticed something was wrong. The money raised at the Prestonfield Spring Ball will help support other children, like Louis, by funding research and getting them the support they need.
What are you most excited for in this years Prestonfield Spring Ball?
I am really looking forward to seeing the Stables at capacity with a packed dance floor! We have an extra special addition to our entertainment line-up this year which I am sure will be a massive hit! All will be revealed on the night.
We have always had surprises from flash mobs to rock bands made from seated guests. We have also had guests such as Doddie Weir, South African Rugby Captain Bobby Skinstad, actor and comedian Greg McHugh and presenter Richard Arnold……… There are also auction items that you simply would not be able to buy anywhere else and are unique to The Spring Ball.
If you could have any guest attend this years Prestonfield Spring Ball, who would it be and why?
I love live music and for me, it is an integral part of the success of the event. We have been incredibly lucky over the years to have had a fantastic variety of live acts. Deacon Blue would be my dream headline act – I have seen them live loads of times and have no doubt at all that they would absolutely smash it out of the park at the Spring Ball.
Have tickets all sold out? How can people support the cause if they can’t attend?
We are expecting tickets to sell out so I would encourage anyone interested to head over to the events section of the Prestonfield website to secure their ticket(s). If you can’t attend this year but are keen to support us and the charities, we are always on the lookout for prizes to add to our auction lots. Contact me on email@example.com for more info.
Want to purchase tickets to the PrestonField Spring Ball?
Head to their website to secure your tickets.