A STAGGERING £50,000 has been raised for the NSPCC’s Childline service by local businesses at an annual extravaganza compered by Jasper Carrott.
The Laughter Ball at the ICC in Birmingham saw businesses across the region taking part in auctions and competitions to out-do each other with donations.
One such competition was the Diamond Challenge which saw guests attempt to win a diamond pendant, donated by S. P. Green Jewellers, worth £1,800.
The event was organised by the NSPCC Birmingham Business Board and was attended by firms including Lamborghini Birmingham, Lloyds Bank, the retailer A F Blakemore and more.
The final amount raised doubled the total reached last year.
NSPCC community fundraising manager Amanda Synnott said: “It was an incredible night. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and Jasper was a fantastic compere who had everyone in stiches.
“On behalf of the NSPCC, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped to raise such a phenomenal amount of money; the businesses who donated so generously and the Birmingham Business Board who put in the time and effort to put on such a spectacular evening.”
The evening saw one man, Eamon Brosnan, surprise his lucky girlfriend Sarah Luckham on stage in front of a crowd of over 300 guests by proposing to her.
Cheers rang across the room for the Birmingham couple as she said ‘yes’.
Childline founder and TV star Esther Rantzen sent a video message thanking businesses for their support and music entertainment was provided by jazz group Jessica and the Rabbits and rock band The Subterraneans.
Guests also heard a touching testimony from Aaron Hearne, whose 14-year- old brother tragically hanged himself six years ago.
Aaron has since founded The Liam Charity and told guests at the charity ball about the importance of the NSPCC’s Childline service and the difference it can make to children’s lives.
All the money raised will go towards Childline which gives children free and confidential support whenever they need it.
“A child contacts Childline every 25 seconds,” Amanda added.
“A donation for as little as £2 a month could help pay for our trained counsellors to be there for young people 24 hours a day.
“So we are enormously grateful for the extraordinary amount raised which will no doubt will help to change the lives of so many children for the better.”
Jasper Carrott added: “It was a brilliant evening of entertainment with a packed house, fabulous food and drink and plenty of laughs.
“And of course, it is always a pleasure to perform in front of a home crowd.
“They were a generous bunch and the phenomenal amount raised will help the NSPCC’s vital work supporting vulnerable children.
“Services like Childline cannot function without the generosity of businesses and the general public and tonight Birmingham showed its charitable spirit.”
Last year Childline carried out over 300,000 counselling sessions with children and young people from across the UK. The most common reasons for these sessions were low self-esteem, family relationship problems, bullying both offline and online, and thoughts of suicide and self-harm.
Anyone interested in volunteering for Childline in Birmingham can contact Kuljinder Nahal on Kuljinder.Nahal@nspcc.org.uk or 0121 227 7577.