Time to press on, for charity ball
AS the night of nights draws closer, behind-the-scenes preparations for this year's Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball are stepping up. Aside from the glitz and glamour of the occasion, there will be a serious side to the evening's celebrations.
AS the night of nights draws closer, behind-the-scenes preparations for this year's Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball are stepping up.
Aside from the glitz and glamour of the occasion, there will be a serious side to the evening's celebrations. JAMES MARSTON meets the man behind the company sponsoring this year's press ball.
THIS year organisers of the Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball have promised an event which will be “better than ever.”
Fine wines, gourmet food, dazzling entertainment and sophisticated fun, the Press Ball is a stylish event for stylish people, and behind the splendour and sparkle the ball has very serious point - to raise money for Disability Care Enterprise (DCE).
DCE has been the chosen charity of the Press Ball since 1997. The charity provides specialised equipment for people with disabilities, and the press ball is its main fundraising event of the year.
Sponsorship from Ipswich-based firm Call Connection is crucial to the success of the event, and the company's managing director Graeme Kalbraier is delighted and proud to be involved with the event again.
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Graeme said: “The old saying that charity begins at home could not be better suited to DCE. It is a local charity supporting local people, and hundreds of families in Suffolk have been helped by DCE in the last ten years.
“There are so many deserving charities and it is always difficult to choose which one to support. One of the main reasons we support the Press Ball is that we can see the difference among the families in our community.”
Graeme is an old friend of the Press Ball. He said: “This is the tenth anniversary of the Press Ball and we supported the first ball when the company was Anglia Countrywide.
“In that first year we raised £3,000 and I was most impressed with what DCE did with the money. The DCE cause has always been very close to my heart and I have been fortunate enough to see a lot of its work at first hand.”
During the evening guests watch a presentation on the work of the charity, including interviews with some of those families who have been helped.
Graeme added: “Because the administration of the charity is already paid for by sponsors Axa and Call Connection every penny that is raised throughout the year is spent directly on the families who so much need our help.
“Although many of those supported by DCE are children the charity has been able to spread its net to help young adults as well.”
Carolyne Morey, DCE project director, said: “Graeme and Call Connection are vital sponsors of the Press Ball. Their contribution enables us to organise the biggest night of the year for DCE. We cannot express our thanks enough for what the company does to make the event such a success.
“Last year raised about £22,000 which took the total to more than £200,000. The specialist equipment we help provide is very expensive. We can spend as much as is raised and it will help hundreds of people.”
Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover said Call Connection was a valuable partner in raising as much as possible for such a worthy cause. He added: “The Press Ball is a fantastic night with a fantastic purpose. “I want to thank Call Connection and our special friend Graeme Kalbraier for everything they have done to make this very special year the success I have no doubt that it will be.”
WORKING with the words “People you can talk to… technology you can trust” Call Connection is growing fast.
From its base in Saxon House, in Cromwell Square, Call Connection staff answer 50,000 calls a week on 1,000 incoming phone lines. Graeme said: “Call Connection is a company which exchanges financial services calls between major insurers and brokers throughout the UK.
“We use our people and very advanced software to take in calls from dozens of insurance providers and transfers calls to companies who are likely to give them a good quotation and then good service.”
Call Connection has under gone spectacular growth since it was formed in October 2004.
Graeme said: “In our first year we employed 60 staff and we had a turnover of £6million. Now we employ 200 staff and have a projected turnover for this year of £24m.
“I knew the company would be successful but I was surprised by the speed of the growth. To multiply turnover by a factor of four in a year is quite outstanding. The growth of any company is not without a lot of hard work on the part of the staff. Everyone at Call Connection from the directors to the most junior member of staff is responsible for this fantastic success.”
As a glittering event, the ball is now the highlight of the county's social and business calendar.
And with the fabulous theme “Masquerade” the ball will be another night to remember.
Special gust star Bobby Davro will meet and greet guests as they step off the red carpet into a world of mystery and fantasy
Music, dancing, food and wine will be followed by an auction and tombola with prizes donated by a number of businesses and organisations. The annual event to be held at Hotel Elizabeth, Copdock, on June 23, raises thousands for DCE.
Star editor Nigel Pickover has pledged to raise £35,000 this year to take the total raised to above £250,000.
Total so far-£217,000
Target 2006 £35,000
DCE distributes £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 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.