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Bath Venetian Ball supports Bristol & Bath Hospitals

Bath Venetian Charity Ball will be held at the Assembly Rooms on Saturday 1st February 2014. All guests will be welcomed with a glass of bubbly and will then indulge in a three-course dinner with complimentary wine. Those in attendance will also be able to take part in a silent auction with some fantastic prizes including all-day spa tickets for two in Whatley Manor, family tickets to Cardiff Castle and Lacock Abbey and many dining gift vouchers for Bath restaurants.

Five different acts will provide an evening’s-worth of entertainment, bringing together a variety of music that anyone and everyone can enjoy. The evening will get started by welcoming guests at the drinks reception with musical delights from close harmony group The Spangles, think Blondie meets the Andrews sisters. Then whilst guests enjoy a three course meal with wine from the caterers Searcys, two wonderful female singers will perform – Hannah Bishay (who performed in the BBC Symphony Chorus during this year’s Last Night of the Proms) and Jess Bishay (who was 5th in the UK National Songwriting competition). They will sing a broad catalogue of songs from the last 20 years. To add to the musical experience during the meal Shaun Holley, Deputy Director of The Village Singers and Choral Director for Malmesbury Music Academy will follow with his amazing bass baritone repertoire covering the likes of Faure and Strauss. After dinner, guests will be blown away by Electric Planet, a four piece female fronted band accompanied by the jazz sax and finally a chance to dance the night away to DJ Sam.
The Ball will be raising funds for two local charities: The Forever Friends Appeal’s Cancer Care Campaign at the Royal United Hospital in Bath and The Friends of Bristol’s leading cancer specialist centre, the Bristol Haematology & Oncology Centre.

Tickets are available from: bath-venetian-charity-ball.eventbrite.co.uk or valerie.simpson@cara-online.com

Event organisers Val Simpson and Anne Pillay tell their story about how they met during their treatments of breast cancer. The two Scottish women both found comfort and common grounds during their stay in the Bristol Haematology & Oncology Centre and have since found, as which they describe; a ‘lifelong friendship’.

Anne Pillay comments: “The morning had been surreal and I can vividly remember thinking ‘did I hear the consultant correctly, did he actually say I had breast cancer? I now had the unenviable task of telling my husband, 17 year old son Myles and mum, who was in her late 70s, that her only daughter had breast cancer. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Myles was amazing and showed maturity far beyond his years. He gave me the biggest hug you could imagine and said ‘you will be alright mum!’ From then on I decided I was going to give everything I had to fight this cancer.

During the eight months of treatment, everything went to plan and my body fortunately accepted the various stages of the treatment pretty well. I think it was during my second chemotherapy session that I met Val. She arrived with her laptop in tow – she was not going to let a chemotherapy session hold her back! During my treatment I met some amazing people and I gained a lifelong friend in Val. I have a much more relaxed approach to life now.

I am the first to admit that I was one of the lucky ones. I owe so much to the on-going research into breast cancer which helped map out my treatment. The care and compassion I received from my surgeon, my oncologists and all the staff involved were second to none and this is why I want to give something back to the Bristol Oncology Centre.”

Valerie Simpson comments: “It was the week of The Royal Wedding, we had arranged for friends to come and enjoy the day, having a barbeque, with champagne and Pimms in the garden. On the morning of that big day, while I was racing around getting organized, I got a phone call saying that they had spotted a breast mass and I had to come to Bristol for further tests on Tuesday. I went for my tests and on Friday the Consultant in Bristol confirmed I had breast cancer, the week after I had my first of two operations.

It was really awful telling my daughter Cara about my diagnosis. I sort of chickened out by telling her then running to the gym to work out for an hour. I was already getting a reputation for being different ~ I told my husband (Bill) to carry on with his planned training course he was delivering during my second operation. The anesthetist said that I probably got the prize for the most bizarre question asked of him – ‘Do you know the wifi passcode? I’ve got a few files I need to send before the operation.’

In total I had four chemotherapy sessions, six weeks of radiotherapy and 20 sessions of Herceptin every three weeks. The treatment started in May 2011 and finished in October 2012 ~ about 18 months all in. I think it was during my second Herceptin session that I first met Anne. We instantly had a joke about things and found we had quite a few things in common (apart from just cancer). My daughter is the same age as her son and we both are originally from Scotland. I have gained a lifelong friendship from my treatments and have met many wonderful, uplifting and kind people.

I am a lucky woman and have always been thankful for a happy and enjoyable life. I always try to see the funny side of things (for example – an open top car with a scarf or wig was a bit of a challenge!). So keep smiling and support us please.”

Both charities are raising funds towards two worthy projects. The Friends of Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre have pledged to raise £2 million in order to buy the Centre a world-class radiotherapy LINAC. Half of all cancer patients generally receive their radiotherapy by one of these highly complex machines. In buying such a LINAC, the Friends will keep Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre at the leading edge of world-class radiotherapy.

The Forever Friends Appeal at the RUH in Bath is raising £8 million towards a new and pioneering Cancer Centre at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. The RUH is planning on replacing all the outdated 1940s cancer facilities, with a state-of-the-art £23.5 million Cancer Centre fit for purpose that will bring treatment ‘under one roof’.

This new Cancer Centre will take inspiration and draw on experiences from the RUH’s most recently completed development project, The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care (NICU) which has won 10 National & International Awards since its opening in July 2011. It will take the same holistic approach, as with NICU, and provide a soothing and relaxing environment for patients and their families that will transform the patient experience.

Sarah Wexler, Consultant Haemotologist at the RUH comments: “It is important to make the patient feel safe, supported and special, so that they can get through their treatment with the least amount of stress. The new Centre will revolutionise the way we provide cancer care.”

To support cancer care and join this elegant event, purchase tickets from: bath-venetian-charity-ball.eventbrite.co.uk or valerie.simpson@cara-online.com