How the ball changed Karen's life

IT MIGHT be a fun night of sophistication and glamour, and but the Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball has a serious side. Today JAMES MARSTON speaks to one of the many families who will benefit from the night.

IT MIGHT be a fun night of sophistication and glamour, and but the Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball has a serious side. Today JAMES MARSTON speaks to one of the many families who will benefit from the night.

TOMORROW the cream of the county's business community will dine on delicious food, washed down with fine wines.

Gentlemen will wear smart black tie, ladies will be in their glamorous finery along the colour theme of red and black. There will be dancing, entertainment, and humour provided by special guest star Bobby Davro.

But behind the fun, the tenth anniversary Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball, held at the Hotel Elizabeth Copock, is first and foremost a charity fundraising event.

Months of dedicated and detailed planning, weeks of anticipation and the last minute setting up, have just one aim - to make sure as much money as possible is raised for the Press Ball's chosen charity Disability Care Enterprise.

Carolyne Morey, DCE project director, said: “This is by far the most important night for the charity. The Press Ball is our major fundraising event of the year.

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“Last year raised about £22,000 which took the total to more than £200,000. The specialist equipment we help provide is very expensive and we can spend as much as is raised and it will help hundreds of people.”

Every penny of profit raised by the Press Ball goes directly to the charity. Carolyne said: “For ten years the charity has been so generously supported by the guests and those involved with the Press Ball. This year I want to say a special 'thank you' to all of those who have been involved over the years on behalf of DCE and on behalf of all of those families we have been able to help, thanks to this night.”

The main event of the night is a charity auction of fabulous prizes donated by companies and individuals including a stunning necklace, hotel breaks, days out, sports memorabilia, and restaurant meals.

There are also a raffle and tombolas throughout the evening and this year, for the first time, there is a raffle of a star prize of a fantastic Hyundai Getz car. It will of course be red, to fit in with the event's colour scheme.

Carolyne added: “I want to thank every business that has donated good or services. I want to thank the Evening Star and I want to thank the Press Ball's magnificent sponsors. The money raised at the Press Ball means so much to so many people.”

Graeme Kalbraier, managing director of Ipswich firm Call Connection, which is the event's main sponsor said: “The beauty of the Press Ball is that you can see exactly where the money raised goes.

“I have been lucky enough to meet many of those who benefit from the event and the money raised tomorrow night really makes a difference. I am so looking forward to tomorrow evening and I am delighted to be involved with this year's Press Ball. I am very proud that Call Connection is sponsoring it.”

Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover said the Press Ball's message is one of achievement through teamwork. He said: “There are so many companies, organisations and individuals that have shown their dedication to making the Press Ball such a fantastic event.

“Tomorrow night is the tenth anniversary Press Ball and from small beginnings the event has raised thousands for such a deserving charity. Suffolk-based and for Suffolk people, DCE makes a huge difference to the lives of so many people and I am honoured our newspaper is able to lend its support.”

The Bye family, of Radcliffe Drive, Ipswich, are among those wishing the organisers every success for tomorrow night.

Karen Bye, 28, suffers from a rare degenerative disease leuco-dystrophy and she is one of the most recent beneficiaries of money raised by a past Press Ball. Karen's mother and carer Dorothy said: “Karen has learning disabilities and physical disabilities and she is confined to a wheelchair. DCE helped buy a plinth which is kept at Karen's day care centre South West Resource Centre in Whip Street.”

The neurological plinth - a table-like structure - allows physiotherapists to work on Karen's limbs.

Dorothy said: “Therapists are able to stretch Karen's limbs and stop them for stiffening. It has been a great help. It is keeping Karen mobile and her movements are easier.”

Dorothy added: “DCE is an excellent charity and it helps so many people. I wish all the luck in the world to the success of tomorrow's Press Ball.”

1997-£3,000

1998-£6,000

1999-£21,000

2000-£35,000

2001-£33,000

2002-£40,000

2003-£26,000

2004-£31,000

2005-£22,000

Total so far-£217,000

Target 2006 £35,000

DCE spends £60,000 to £100,000 a year. The average family receives a grant of about £1,000.

The Press Ball is the biggest source of income for Suffolk Charity Disability Care Enterprise (DCE)

Lord Tollemache, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, is DCE patron.

DCE was formed in 1988 after Angus McDonald, the father of a disabled daughter, was shocked when he found out the price of specialised equipment.

Past Press Ball themes have included James Bond, Black and White, Harry Potter and An Enchanted Evening.

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