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In the Name of Charity: fundraising balls, elf school and the true meaning of Christmas

Several weeks ago I visited my inaugural car boot sale to sell some of those outfits that I will never again fit into and those useful utensils that have never come out of the cupboard.

The aim of my venture, heading out at 5.30am on a dark, cold winter morning, was to raise funds to cover the costs of my first ever charity ball.  I sold almost every item I had and at the end of the day a wonderful lady who had spoken to me about my volunteering (and also purchased a stunning outfit) came up to me and told me that she had purchased something that she would like to give me.  The lady then proceeded to present me with a beautifully carved wooden plaque that displayed the name of the charity I volunteered for.

For the first time ever, I was speechless. My emotional attempts to show my gratitude for such a kind gesture were on a par with Gwyneth Paltrow and her unforgettable Oscar Acceptance speech!  Every time I look at that plaque I smile.

Organising a charity ball is not for the faint hearted. To those who have gone before me; I salute you.  Requests for support receiving no response, or that very kind but definite 'sorry, but we cannot in this instance support your venture' does take the wind out of your sails but, all it takes to get that positivity and passion up and running again is that one call or email that confirms a wonderful generous donation.  I am sure many of the organisations I have requested support from must over the course of a year; receive thousands of similar requests and in times such as this I cannot imagine how difficult it must be choosing which ones to support.

Last week after taking the decision to squeeze in another 10 tables at the Ball, I visited the venue for some inspiration. As I stood in the huge function suite it suddenly dawned on me; the enormity of the planned event and the terrifying realisation that I had reached the point of no return!   The terror that I felt was short lived when I reminded myself that I had nearly 6 months to get myself organised and with the help of the other wonderful volunteers we would deliver.

My more immediate concern now relates to a very special party that I am attending in under a week. I have been given the honour of being one of the many elves helping at a party for almost 200 children. My husband found an Elf Training School, unfortunately the training was only offered to children! I will just need to base my character on that amazing and unforgettable Peter Pan of the Elf World 'Buddy'.

As it does every year, Christmas Day has very quickly moved from 'too far away to think about' to 'just around the corner'.

As I decorate our Christmas tree I take a moment to think about some of the many inspirational children I have met this year. I wonder how many of them will be able to spend Christmas day with their friends and families and how many of them will be present on that very special day only in the thoughts of their loved ones.

At any time in the UK there are over 20,000 children fighting life threatening conditions and on Christmas day many families will be so grateful to have their children at their side; healthy enough to enjoy the magic of Christmas. In this commercial and materialistic age some people forget the true meaning of Christmas and what is really important, many people don't and on Christmas morning many mums, dads, sisters, brothers, grans, papas, aunts and uncles will be so very grateful for the simple things in life; the things that a monetary value cannot be placed upon.

At this very special time of year I will hug my dearest friends and family that little tighter, for that little bit longer. I know how quickly lives can change when illness strikes and I am thankful that as a parent I have reached another Christmas to cherish with my loved ones.

To each and every one of you, I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a happy, very healthy New Year.     

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