The First Will Always Be Special
By Wendy Fulcher, Founder of the Brain Tumour Research Campaign
“When I founded the Brain Tumour Research Campaign charity in 2004 after my husband’s death from a brain tumour, I had no idea where it would lead some 14 years later. I just knew I had to do something to find a new purpose in my life after seeing him suffer for 10 months from devastating disease that is brain cancer. I also learnt from his neurosurgeon how desperately underfunded brain tumour research was in this country.
“John and I had owned Spectra, a Destination Management Company, since 1994 and at the time of his death we employed over 20 staff, all of whom loved John and were as devastated as I at his loss; we also had a wide loyal client base around the world and a group of suppliers from the UK corporate hospitality base in the UK. Everyone wanted to do something in John’s memory … so my first idea was to organise a fundraising ball. It seemed to be a small step from our business of organising high-end international corporate events. A team of staff, friends and industry colleagues all stepped up to the plate and helped out — not least, the Sales & Marketing Director of the brand new Grove Hotel who were just launching the hotel’s opening. (This was to become a recurrent theme over the years of finding venues that were interested in showcasing their upgrades or refurbishments to the industry and potential wealthy clintentle by partnering with us for fundraising events.)
“And so the Amber Ball was born. People often ask where the name came from and it is far simpler than most would expect. The Ballroom of the Grove was called Amber — and so we decided it would be the Amber Ball that year and then change it in future years. Happily the event was so successful that the name stuck!
“Our first ball was an overwhelming success! We held it in early April and the Amber ballroom was decorated with birch trees, table centrepieces were floral Easter eggs, which were donated to a guest at each table, we had 190 guests and raised £22,000.The majority of guests were from the corporate hospitality industry from around the world. They travelled from Canada, USA, Scotland and Ireland, and it felt like a real tribute to my husband. The secret of its success was — and still is — the enormous generosity of our industry who donated over 40 amazing prizes.
“Soon afterwards, people began asking “when are you holding the next Amber Ball?” and so it has grown over the years, having taken place in the grandest ballrooms in London … from the Landmark, Grosvenor House, InterContinental, Savoy and Hurlingham — to its present home at The Dorchester, where it was held on 8th June 2018 with 300 guests and raised £55,000!
“The first will always be special since it heralded the launch of our charity … a charity which has since raised over £3 million to fund our dedicated brain tumour research laboratory at Imperial College London.”
For more information about BTRC please go to: www.btrc-charity.org