The inaugural charity ball hosted by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer has raised more than £12,000 for an organisation committed to helping emergency services staff suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Around 200 guests enjoyed a night of music and entertainment in the stunning surroundings of The Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral in aid of Cambridgeshire-based charity PTSD999.
Guests of the charity joined leading figures from the county’s business and political worlds for the event, which featured a three course fine-dining menu, charitable auction and live band.
Mayor Palmer said: “For my first ball I honestly had no expectations about what could be raised, but I’m really chuffed to be handing over a cheque for more than £12,000.
“Big thanks have to go to all those who had a hand in organising this very enjoyable event, those who donated prizes and those who came on the night and took part in our fundraising auctions and raffle.
“I’m also really pleased to be able to draw more attention to the good work that PTSD999 does. I don’t think anyone who listened to the first-hand account of the guest speaker, a police officer at the sharp end of the fight against terrorism, was left unmoved by the unimaginable life-and-death situations that they face – and more regularly than we care to think.
“Yet the provision for members of our emergency services suffering post-traumatic stress is virtually non-existent. What PTSD999 is trying to do is fill that gap, but the demand is huge. I hope this event goes some way to helping and I will continue to support PTSD999 wherever I can.”
The event was entirely funded through ticket sales, with all profits going to PTSD999.
PTSD999 is the only specific organisation in the UK offering tailored support and guidance for all blue light workers, who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress as a result of their experiences in the emergency services.
Charity co-founder Gary Hayes was a former soldier and police officer who lost his job due to PTSD, which was triggered by his experiences following the July 7 bombings in London.
His personal story instigated the founding of the charity with Simon Durance, who himself suffered from PTSD following his experiences as a soldier, where he served in arenas such as the Balkans and Northern Ireland.
Established in 2015, the charity is now being contacted by up to 30 people per day seeking help, including those affected by incidents such as the London Bridge terror attack, Manchester bombing and Grenfell Tower fire.
It has supported retired personnel who served in the 1960s through to those who remain in the services, helping staff from the police, fire service, ambulance service, Her Majesty's Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Mr Durance said: “James has been a consistent and vocal supporter of our charity since the early days and it was a truly humbling experience for him to back us at such a prestigious event.
“Our experience suggests there is a real issue around care and support for emergency services staff suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues, which we are committed to helping treat and resolve.
“This money is a massive boost for us and will help us provide better support for brave men and women who keep us safe each and every day.”
The event featured moving speeches from Mr Durance as well as a serving police officer who had been helped by the charity.
Guests were also able to bid for unique prizes such as weekend retreats, football tickets and dining experiences, with some of the lots fetching in excess of £1,000.
Martin Millard, director at Cheffins, who was auctioneer on the night, said: “The Mayor’s Ball was a well-supported event for an incredibly worthy cause.
“The level of enthusiasm was clearly demonstrated by the diversity and quality of the lots donated to the auction and the strength of bidding that it drew, despite the acoustic challenges of the Lady Chapel!
“Highlights included a Tesla electric child’s car and dinner with Andy McNab, all of which saw some strong prices bid.”
Mayor James Palmer thanked students from King’s Ely school who provided musical entertainment during the drinks reception.
He also records his thanks to those contributed auction items and raffle prizes:
Royal Standard, Ely
Jockey Club, Newmarket
LDH (La Doria) Limited
Scruffs of Cambridge
Edis of Ely
Anglia Water Services