Standing here in the music hall with my microphone and glitterball - the CP Teens UK Ball!
As you all know, the 17th October 2015 brought two things. It brought:
1. CP Teens UK's 2nd Birthday
2. The first ever CP Teens UK Charity Ball
Last year, CP Teens UK's 1st Birthday was 'celebrated' by having a slot on BBC Radio Sheffield and a feature appearance on BBC Look North (Yorkshire), which was pretty cool! I never thought I'd be able to top this for CP Teens UK's 2nd Birthday, but I think we perhaps did top it!
Back in January, I thought it would be a cool idea to have a Ball for CP Teens UK, but I never thought that 9 months later a black tie event with a sit-down 3-course meal, with 150 guests, with Sophie Christiansen OBE as the Celebrity Guest would actually be happening! I booked the ballroom in a sort of daze - I think it felt so far away that I don't think I could visualise the end result, or if it would even happen.
So, when the day actually arrived, it was a mad rush of excitement and stress! Over the course of the year, the stress built up more as each month passed. January through to July was pretty chilled, apart from the odd little hiccup. August I started to become a bit twitchy, September I started to panic, and October I went into major panic! Unless you actually start organising an event such as a ball, I don't think you think about what goes on 'behind the scenes' - I certainly didn't! But to say it was worth it is an absolute understatement - to see it all happening on the night and to see all of the people who had turned out for CP Teens UK was incredible!
The two main aims for the CP Teens UK Ball were:
1. To give teenagers & young people with Cerebral Palsy and similar disabilities and their families a
night to remember
2. To raise as much money as possible for CP Teens UK
At this year's Ball (we're seriously considering another next year!), the CP Teens who attended were as follows:
- Laura Webb
- Nikki Charlesworth
- Rebecca Weeks
- Chloe Tear (CP Teens UK Ambassador)
- Cat Lee (CP Teens UK Ambassador)
- Matthew Humphreys
- Ryan Cooper
- Ellie Simpson (me!)
As you probably know, and as I said above, we were extremely lucky to have Sophie Christiansen OBE, World Paralympic Dressage Champion attend as the Celebrity Guest. Now, you probably think I'm just saying this to 'big everything up', I promise I'm not - I asked Sophie to open the ball with a short, 5 minute speech and I can honestly say it is the best speech I have ever possibly heard. It most certainly opened the ball with a 'bang'! I feel without even realising, Sophie captured everything CP Teens UK is about in her speech. She spoke about how she grew up really worried about what others thought of her because of her Cerebral Palsy and her speech. It wasn't until later when she became involved in disability sport that she realised that there are other people out there like her, like me, and like you, and that it is perfectly okay. She is now a confident 27-year-old who will put herself out there and talk to anyone, something that was once her worst nightmare. Sophie told the room that since she has stepped out of her comfort zone, her life has begun, and she encouraged everyone, especially the CP Teens, to start stepping outside of their comfort zones.
"Life begins outside of your comfort zone. Never be afraid of who you are." - Sophie Christiansen OBE,
CP Teens UK Ball, Saturday 17th October 2015.
l am incredibly proud and gobsmacked to say that the CP Teens UK Ball 2015 raised an absolutely amazing amount of £7,613 for CP Teens UK! On behalf of CP Teens UK, I really need to say a thank you to the following people for their help and involvement in making the Ball happen:
- Mum and Dad, especially for the 'heated debates' around our kitchen table Dad in the week leading up to the Ball, haha!
- Sophie Christiansen OBE and her partner, Peter McKnight
- My sister, Anna
- My sister's boyfriend, Dan, who was the official photographer at the Ball
- Granny Annie, and her friend Jill for providing beautiful flowers and arrangements
- Gillian Scotford, Co-Founder of Accessible Derbyshire, who also did a fantastic opening speech
- Chris Sellars, who did an absolutely grand job of compering the Ball and provided great entertainment
A special thank you also goes to everyone who was kind enough to donate prizes to the Raffle and the Auction.
Last but not least, I'd like to thank the Ball's main sponsors, Stratstone BMW and MINI, and the following partners/table holders:
- Banner Jones Solicitors
- Wilkins Hammond Charted Surveyors
- Accessible Derbyshire
- Sheffield Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Stratstone BMW & MINI Chesterfield
- Stratstone BMW & MINI Derby
- Anne Lowe
- Alison Cooper
- Richard & Jenny Savidge
- David & Rosemary Redgate
I am overwhelmed at the messages that have come in and are still coming in about the CP Teens UK Ball! I am so, so glad that it was such a success and it was fantastic to provide such a 'stage' for teenagers & young people with Cerebral Palsy and similar disabilities.
Photos from the Ball can be viewed at www.facebook.com/CPTeensUK and/or in the Gallery.
You might know that the road to charity status was started last October with 'The Sponsored Wobble' - a 5K walk, wheel or 'wobble' through Chatsworth Park. The plan was to approach charity status at a slow pace - believe it or not, there's a lot of work involved in being a registered charity, so my plan was to slowly build towards charity status and timing it for around the time I graduate so I'm not trying to spin anymore plates at once! However, CP Teens UK has now raised so much money that by law I have to go for charity status and formally register it as a charity! Of course, this is amazing and it was always the ultimate aim ... it just means that my plates are going to spin a whole lot faster all of a sudden!
I will keep you updated with the road to charity status for CP Teens UK!
I usually write about some kind of 'Cerebral Palsy incident', so I'll make this post no exception! The other day, my Mum went out and she forgot to leave me a sandwich in the fridge. If she goes out over lunchtime and I am at home, she will always leave me a sandwich in the fridge as my Cerebral Palsy affects my hand control so making sandwiches has never been my strong point! However, for the first time ever, she went out forgetting to leave me a sandwich. So, I was literally like, "It's my time to shine and make my first ever sandwich at the grand age of nearly 21!", hahaha. I opted for a paper plate - better to be safe than sorry! I went to the fridge to find the softest cheese possible, I didn't fancy my chances trying to cut slices from a solid block of cheddar! It was my lucky day as we had some soft goats cheese in the fridge, I was literally like "There is a God!". It did go through my mind that my Mum might need the goats cheese for something, but then I was like, surely she'd rather be missing a bit of goats cheese rather than me performing some kind of DIY finger amputation on the kitchen worktop?!
As I reached for a knife (a blunt knife!) even my dog was looking at me as if to say, "is this really a good idea?!". To my great surprise, I cut the goats cheese into equal round slices without too much trouble. After the success of the goats cheese (haha!) I thought it would be a 'great idea' to put my sandwich in the toaster ... I should have just accepted the fact that I had successfully made a sandwich without causing an injury to me or the dog, but no, of course I wanted it toasting! But, in all fairness, I successfully toasted the sandwich and victory was mine ... over a sandwich, at the age of nearly 21 hahaha!
Anyway, now for a guest blogger. This time it is Abbie Smart - thanks Abbie!
"My name is Abbie Smart and I have Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy but so what?! I am 18 years old and I love life.
I go to a mainstream school and i have since the age of 4. I have had my ups and downs about school but always came through with great results and excellent achievements. Now I’m in my last year at Sixth Form and I look back and think, "wow, I've come so far from learning how to write, to taking my GSCEs and A-levels."
I really enjoy spending time with my family and friends. The friend situation has always been difficult, but now I'm going into adulthood it’s becoming slightly easier. I enjoy going out shopping or going for meal and being with friends.
My dreams and aspirations in life are trying to be as independent as I can and keep up all of my therapy, of which I have done all my life to become stronger so that I am able to do more for myself. I go to the gym, do yoga and physio, speech therapy and I use a walker at home and at school.
I have found it hard to try new things and sometimes I get really anxious. However, when I do it I enjoy it and I think, "why have I caused such worry for myself?!". I’m like this when I take exams too but I have always come through sailing and I wonder, "WHY THE HELL DID I STRESS?!". Everyone calls me 'Miss Stresshead'!
I never allow my CP to get in the way and I always want to try new things to help me to benefit myself.
Please follow my Facebook page, 'Reach For The Stars With Abbie', my Twitter page, @AbbieSmart3 and my Instagram account, @abbienicolesmart as I'm always updating about the different therapies I am doing.
Thank you for reading