The Widnes Group of Freemasons have a long and great tradition of supporting local, national and international charities. Widnes Group Chairman Derek Williams, along with his vice chairman Neil Pedder and secretary John Gibbon decided to put on a Charity Ball to support a very worthy local charity, Ella Performance Group. Ella, (Exclusion Limits Life’s Achievements), support vulnerable children and adults with learning disabilities and help them to get the most out of life. The group, which is run by tutors Keily Hampson, Rachael Lindsey and Samantha Smallman, is a performing arts-based group that gives adults and young people the chance to take part in dance, drama and musical-themed activities. Derek chose this charity after having seen them performing the highly successful sell out ‘Oliver’ show at the Brindley.
To start the ball rolling off, DC for the evening Steve McNee introduced Neil Pedder to officially welcome everyone, on behalf of Derek Williams who is recovering in hospital after an emergency operation, and thanked everyone for their attendance and support to the first of what is hoped will become an annual event. Steve then gave an explanation of the running order of the evening and what to expect before introducing Mal Hampson, the founder of the group and manager of Halton Speak Out, to give an overview and introduction to the ‘Oliver’ performers.
Mal said: “The group started six years ago and recognises the talents that people have. Nobody is excluded from Ella and there are now 78 members aged from three years to over 50 years with learning or physical disabilities, some have no learning disabilities and all achieve skills for life. I am very grateful to the Widnes Masons for putting on this Charity Ball in aid of our Performance Group.” She continued by saying that the first shows performed by Ella were small one night shows at the Brindley and included Grease, Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz. The latest show Oliver ran over three days at the Brindley and will be performed soon at the Parr Hall in Warrington. Work is starting on the next show, Peter Pan, which is due to open in February 2016.
Ella gets lots of voluntary support from family and friends who work hard making costumes for the group. Fund raising for the group is done by the Friends of Ella who also work hard raising the necessary finance to keep the group going. For more information about the group or performances contact Mal Hampson at; firstname.lastname@example.orgLaura Green (Nancy) in full song.
Introductions over, it was now time for a short performance from two of the stars of Oliver, Laura Green (Nancy) and Adam Stringer (Fagin), who both gave a marvellous performance and sang their song with great confidence and a lot of style and each received long and loud applause.
Next was a game of ‘Heads and Tails’ before 80 superb meals, prepared by the hall catering staff Sugar and Spice Catering, were served to Masons, their wives, family and friends. The menu for the evening was a melon starter followed by pork loin with seasonal vegetables and then a selection of desserts with tea or coffee to finish.
Following the meal, flower presentations were made to Rachel Lindsey, Keily Hampson and Mal Hampson from Ella, Pat Lumsden catering manager and Sandra Prescot bar manager and then it was over to the fantastic Soul and Motown duo, The Sensations for their first spot of fabulous songs.
During the interval a raffle and an auction for a mystery prize was held which together with the heads and tails raised £421. The total amount raised by the event for Ella was £750 and will certainly go a long way in keeping Ella going.
John Gibbon announced that the Bradders and Shirley Show on Halton Community Radio had donated a day out at the studio for one lucky member of Ella.
The final part of the evening commenced with The Sensations coming back on stage for their second spot to entertain the audience and get people dancing with more fabulous Soul and Motown songs. All in all it was a fantastic night with great entertainment, delightful food and wonderful company and the next Group Ball is bound to be as good so book your tickets early.