Press Ball nears take-off

GLAMOUR, black-tie sophistication, glitter, sparkle and magic.These are just some of the elements that make up the annual Press Ball. But as plans for this year's enchanted evening gain pace reporter James Marston met Carolyne Morey, project director for the DCE, and discovered the serious side of Suffolk's biggest night.

GLAMOUR, black-tie sophistication, glitter, sparkle and magic.

These are just some of the elements that make up the annual Press Ball.

But as plans for this year's enchanted evening gain pace reporter James Marston met Carolyne Morey, project director for the DCE, and discovered the serious side of Suffolk's biggest night.

DISABILITY Care Enterprise, better known as DCE, was formed in 1988.

Since then it has spent more than £1million supporting disabled people in Suffolk.

DCE project director Carolyne Morey said the charity was set up to help people pay for expensive equipment.

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She said: "DCE was set up by Angus McDonald. His daughter was knocked off her cycle while doing a paper round, she had head injuries and was disabled.

"Angus found how little money was available through social services and welfare. He wanted to help people provide equipment for people with disabilities."

The charity benefits from low running costs.

Carolyne, 38, works from her home in Ipswich and insurance company AXA along with press Ball sponsor Call Connection, cover administration costs.

Carolyne, a married mother-of-two, said: "The majority of referrals to us come through social services and the special school system. We spend a lot of money all over Suffolk from Lowestoft to Newmarket.

"It's a rolling project, as and when we find people who need equipment we try to help them."

DCE buys a vast range of items to make many lives easier.

Carolyne said: "Money is spent on a huge variety of things such as specialist car seats, specialist buggies, wheelchairs and trikes, standing frames and communications aids such as computer programmes.

"For older people we often help with rise and recliner chairs, bath lifts and stair lifts."

Carolyne said DCE often works closely with the Royal British Legion and other organisations to help older people.

She said: "We spend about £60,000 to £100,000 a year. The majority of equipment for disabled people is very expensive. Often we find a family with more than one disabled member so they need a bit of extra help.

"There is a misconception that DCE is a bigger charity than it really is. I work full time and there are two other part time staff. We have an executive committee of fifteen. The committee is very supportive.

Carolyne said the charity raises money throughout the year.

She said: "We have a fundraising event once or twice a month. We raise anything from £200 to £2,000 but nothing can touch the Press Ball.

"At the Press Ball the local business community spends serious money and we have raised up to £40,00 in one evening.

"It is the biggest night of the year for us, our biggest fundraiser."

A former Chantry High pupil, Carolyne worked for SGR before she joined the DCE.

She said: "I like the job as I get to see the best of people. I am very lucky, I am there when people are being kind and generous and I get to see the end result of all the money raised."

N The DCE is looking for another sponsor. For further information please call Carolyne on 01473 288885.

N Weblink www.dcecharity.co.uk

DCE Fast Facts

N Sir Bobby Robson is a vice president of DCE. Lord Tollemache, the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk is patron.

N A specialised trike costs about £700.

N The average amount given to a family is £1,000.

N The charity is holding a barn dance on March 26 at Kesgrave war memorial community centre

N The Press Ball has raised nearly £200,000 in the last eight years.

Evening Star Chief Sports writer Mel Henderson is a member of the Executive Committee. Here he writes about his role with the DCE.

I am extremely proud to be one of only two founding members remaining on the DCE executive committee and to have played my modest part in raising the money that has improved the quality of life for people with disabilities throughout Suffolk.

Why do I do it? The simple answer is that helping people less fortunate than myself gives me a genuine buzz, no more so than when I meet those who have benefited from our fund-raising efforts.

DCE has conveniently filled what was previously a huge void for those people with disabilities only able to rely on the state for the most basic of assistance.

We can truly claim to have transformed thousands of lives, often by the purchase of the most straightforward equipment, and the increased demand for our support has merely strengthened our resolve to be there in the future for those who need us.

My biggest assignment on behalf of DCE came in the summer of 2003 when I was part of a trek up Mt Kilimanjaro, which I found to be tremendously fulfilling.

That was a major one-off. The rest of the time I help to organise and present events like sport and music quizzes, themed food nights etc, while also serving as a member of the fund-raising committee charged with the increasingly demanding task of devising new methods of bringing in much-need cash.

Meeting some of those we have helped can be an uplifting experience.

Like the young mum who had to wave her kids farewell every morning until we purchased her an electronic scooter that enabled her to be independent and accompany her children to school like any other parent.

That is just one of many heart-warming examples I could quote. The DCE archives are full of many other deserving cases and, thanks to the hard work of my committee colleagues, combined with the generosity of those people throughout the county who support our busy programme of fund-raising events, there will undoubtedly be plenty more to come in the future

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