Mother-of-two Shirley Ainsley, from Trimley St Mary, near Felixstowe, has raised nearly £8,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK by hosting a black-tie ball. Almost 200 people attended the sell-out event, which was held at The Orwell Hotel in Felixstowe earlier this summer. Shirley organised the formal fundraiser with thoughts of her dad, John Mayes, in mind. The 85 year old was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease nine years ago.
This year’s ball was the second to be organised by the 51 year old, who raised £4,000 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity with a black and white themed evening in 2010. This year’s guests were treated to a sumptuous three-course meal and entertainment by Norwich-based musical ensemble The Lee Vasey Band. As well as a percentage of ticket sales, money for the charity was raised through an auction and a raffle, with a four-day cruise, 32 inch television, iPad and theatre tickets among the prizes. Shirley’s two sons, Stuart, 25, and Jack, 22, boosted the total further with a charity football match which raised £330.
Shirley presented a cheque for £7,155 to the charity at its offices in Cambridgeshire earlier this month. Barclays, the bank where Shirley works part-time, has also agreed to match-fund the first £750 raised, bringing her total to £7,905.
Shirley expressed her delight at the success of the ball and explained the inspiration behind it:
“It was a fantastic night and everyone was so generous and supportive. I have been absolutely stunned by the amount raised this year, but it would not have been possible without the support of my friends Jane and Kevin Welton, my husband George and the various businesses which donated prizes for the auction and raffle.
“My dad, John, is in a care home with Alzheimer’s. Mum looked after Dad at first but it became increasingly difficult as he became more and more forgetful and began to get violent. That’s when we made the heartbreaking decision he should go into a home. Dementia research is obviously something very close to my heart and that’s why I decided to help raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. While it may not be in time for Dad, it’s good to know the money raised will help others who have this awful condition.”
Miranda Johnson, Head of Corporate and Community Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We are absolutely thrilled by the magnificent amount raised by Shirley at this year’s Felixstowe charity ball. Every £20 donated towards our work pays for another vital hour of pioneering research, bringing us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people across the UK living with dementia today. Dementia poses one of the greatest threats to public health now and in the future but funding still lags significantly behind other serious diseases. We rely on our wonderful supporters to fund our world-class research and the money raised from this year’s ball will make a big difference.”