The Cloisters in Bolton is a stunning converted church, complete with stained glass windows and majestic arches, which was the perfect setting for the very first gala evening event held by the charity Daddys with Angels, entitled ‘An evening for the Angels’.
The charity provides support and guidance to families affected by the loss of a child at any age, gestation and by any cause. It is staffed wholly by volunteers, all of whom have suffered child loss, with the aim to help newly bereaved families on their journey through their loss. Their services are provided completely free of charge to all.
Dan Hill, a member of Prince of Architects Lodge No 4188, is the director of the charity. Sadly, Dan is no stranger to the loss of a child, as he and his wife Jade have suffered multiple miscarriages throughout their marriage, and following the death of his daughter Isobella at just eight days old from medical errors, Dan and Jade fought for changes to neonatal medical practices throughout the UK.
Dan freely admits that following the success of the campaign of ‘Justice for Isabella’, that he was in a dark place, and that support for grieving fathers was non-existent. The founder of the charity, Paul Scully-Sloan, had followed Dan’s campaign and invited Dan to join the admin team. Dan found that helping other bereaved parents gave him a sense of purpose and in 2016, Dan was awarded Inspirational Father of the Year.
Founder Paul, sadly passed away in 2019 and Dan took over the mantle of running the charity, with the aim of returning it to its roots of a support organisation. With a focus on helping more and more people at the worst time of their lives. The charity deliberately targets support for bereaved dads, due to the lack of available male support across the sector.
One of Dan’s many aims is to raise awareness of the charity, the work that it does and to raise funds in support of those projects. The stage set for the gala evening, Dan invited fellow members from Prince of Architects Lodge, many of whom were previously unaware of his charity work. He was overwhelmed, when almost the entire lodge turned out in support, accompanied by their spouses and partners, joined by The Mayor o Wigan and her consort, councillors and officers of other charities from across the region.
The evening began with a moving and passionate welcome from the BBC’s Kay Crewdson, herself having lost two children during pregnancy. The guests were then invited to enjoy a fabulous dinner of pate, chicken breast and chocolate torte, along with accompanied delightful wines, with the conversation on the many tables in full flow.
It was time for a fantastic evening of entertainment to begin, first up was Craig Williams from the ITV show Benidorm, who performed his hilarious stage hypnotism act with willing volunteers becoming race jockeys, ballerinas and the obligatory sufferers of imaginary flatulence, an act that ensured the entire venue was crying with laughter.
A tough act to follow, nevertheless, Dan stepped onto the stage to welcome and thank all of the guests for attending the event, proceeding to pay tribute to founder Paul, explaining to all present how their support would help with future projects, and sharing the exciting news that Daddys with Angels has been selected to host the Child Loss national sector awards next year.
Dan explained that he was very humbled by the presence of so many guests who had taken the time out to support the event, and particularly those Masons from the lodge who had attended and that it meant the world to him, to have the support of so many brethren that he looks up to.
It was then time for Dan to fulfil a promise he had made, that if the evening’s event was a sell-out, he would sing! A quick blast of Dire Straits, followed by an enthusiastic rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’ joined by every single person in the room went down a storm, if Dan had said he was nervous before taking the stage it didn’t show, and it was a brilliant warm-up, for the headline act of the evening, ‘Mostard’, an amazing live band who ensured the dance floor was filled until carriages were called.
A fantastic evening event for a wonderful charity, with many exciting events to be held in the future, with people looking forward to hearing more from Daddys with Angels, and of course from Dan himself. The evening has so far raised a fantastic sum of £2,000 with more donations to follow and as an evening for the angels drew to a close, a wonderful achievement for the inaugural gala evening for all who attended.
Article by Dan Hill and Mike Fox.