Magical night raises £31,000 for charity

SOMETHING truly magical was in the air!There may not have been a real wizard in sight but there's doubt the Starry Potter-themed Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball was utterly spellbinding.

SOMETHING truly magical was in the air!

There may not have been a real wizard in sight but there's doubt the Starry Potter-themed Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball was utterly spellbinding.

Smashing its fundraising target by a staggering £11,000 the glittering Evening Star bash raised a massive £31,000 for Suffolk charity Disability Care Enterprise (DCE).

Every penny will go towards helping people with disabilities improve their quality of life - a cause the 308-strong glamorous guest list was more than happy to conjure up cash for.

Last night's ball, at the Hotel Elizabeth, Copdock, paid tribute to the Harry Potter stories and after a drink's reception guests were transported through the enchanting platform nine and three-quarters tunnel to the banquet hall.

Sponsored by the AV Unit and British Gas the evening's magic continued with music from Queen tribute band Queen Bee and First Inversion.

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A casino amused revellers in the outside marquee and special guests included lookalikes of Mr Potter himself, the loveable Hagrid and wise professor Dumbledore.

But it was the grand auction inside which amazed most.

Lots included a framed Harry Potter movie poster signed by the cast, a VIP backstage visit to boy band Westlife's Ipswich concert and a meal cooked in your home by the head chef at Scott's Brasserie.

Also up for grabs was the chance to play a once in a lifetime football match on the hallowed turf of Portman Road while captained by an Ipswich legend.

Carolyne Morey, of DCE, said: "It was an absolutely superb evening.

"We couldn't have asked people to be more supportive.

"Every year I am surprised at the amount and the generosity of the guests and it's so good to know people appreciate what we are achieving across Suffolk.

"Everybody from DCE wants to thank the Star - its help makes the world of difference to us."

Nigel Pickover, editor of the Star and host for the evening, made his grand entrance at the beginning of the night on a broomstick.

He said: "We are astonished we have gone so far above our total.

"We thought it would be a struggle to reach £20,000 but thanks to the kindness of the people of Suffolk we have beat £30,000.

"From tomorrow onwards the money will be spent on some very special people."

NOW in its eighth year the Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball has fast established itself as one of the biggest events in the county's social calendar.

Kind-hearted guests never fail to turn out in force and the vast amounts of money raised have helped make dreams come true for children and adults from all corners of Suffolk.

In total £190,000 has been donated to Disability Care Enterprise (DCE) thanks to generous donations at the balls.

Last night's £31,000 meant once again the evening managed to beat the fundraising target.

Plans have already been made by DCE to buy much-needed equipment ranging from specialist wheelchairs to computers.

Big earners for the charity in the grand auction were a barge trip on the river Orwell (£2,000), backstage tickets to a Westlife concert (£2,000) and an opportunity to play a game of football at Portman Road (£3,300).

Press Ball totals over the past eight years.

1997 - £3,000

1998 - £6,000

1999 - £21,000

2000 - £35,000

2001 - £33,000

2002 - £40,000

2003 - £26,000

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