So much time and effort went into making the Run Geordie Run Ball a success on September 3rd at the Gosforth Park Marriott. Mrs Run Geordie Run hadn’t slept for weeks due to planning and organising the sell out night and I’m pleased to say that the hard work paid off.
The evening got underway at 7 with a champagne reception. My beautiful Dolly Dealers (aka Maddidolls pictured below with a lucky guest) made their way round the guests selling the numbered apples and sweety bracelets. These items, of course, would see the lucky winner bag an Apple iPad 2 and a Pandora Bracelet laden with charms.
The draw was made later in the evening and Kaye Bartlett won the iPad 2 and Ada Bell won the Pandora Bracelet. Thanks to DH Fuels for providing the iPad2 and Pandora Bracelet.
Real Radio's Gary and Lisa got things underway just before 8 with a game of heads and tails. This was a great ice breaker and the winner went home with a nice bottle of bubbly.
Dinner soon followed and I was honoured to have Stephen Miller and his family, George Caulkin from The Times, Liz Luff from The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, my Aunty Joyce and her family accompany Katy, Jack and myself on our table.
The table raffle was drawn soon after dinner and we had 11 top prizes to be won. It was originally 8 but such was the generosity of so many people we had a few extra ones thrown in for good measure. Gary and Lisa worked the audience with some funny banter and the lovely laid back atmosphere of the night continued. Although I agree with that statement wholeheartedly, they aren't my words. I've had a lot of lovely feedback since the ball from so many people who were there on the night.
The evening's excitement was cranked up a notch when Jason Isaacs took to the stage with his big band and glamourous backing singers. It was at this time that the casino tables opened. The prize for winning the most chips was a flat screen TV. Thanks to Chapman Vents for supplying the TV. What with having a top act on stage and people trying to win as many chips on the tables there was a real sense of Vegas in the air.
Jason Isaacs, the band and the backing singers. I'd spoken to Jason during the afternoon's sound check and it was obvious to me that he was well up for this gig. He had been following my run across the USA and he gave everything on the night to entertain the audience. For me, he is the perfect showman. He captivates and charms all who hears his voice. He's got the coolest moves going too.
It wasn't long before the dance floor filled up and Jack (Run Geordie Run Jr) wasted no time in cutting in for a dance with Sports Therapist Kirsty from my USA support team.
After his set, Jason Isaacs did an unexpected bonus number with guest, Daryl Sparey who made a generous contribution to the 2 charities for the honour. The impromptu duet of "That's Life" went down really well with the crowd and both Daryl and Jason received a standing ovation from the audience. Thanks to Jason for being such a good sport and thanks to Daryl of course for his donation.
Once everyone had recovered from the excitement of the show, it was time for me to talk about the run across the USA and get all of the thank you's in that I had the time for. I took to the stage and the standing ovation that followed will stay with me forever. As I said at the time, I'd thought about the moment that I was stood delivering the speech many times while running in the USA. The moment seemed like a dream. Like many other moments since I finished the run across the USA, I've been convinced that this is all a figment of my imagination. I've been convinced that I'm going to wake up back on highway 36 in Kansas at any moment. After some of the low points on the run the moment I stood in front of the crowd was right at the other end of the scale.
I was really pleased with my speech. I took very little notice of what I'd written down and just spoke from the heart. A 3 minute video played at the end. This really helped get the message across as to how tough the run was and what it meant to me personally to finish within 100 days. As the video ended I returned to the stage with a clenched first raised to yet another standing ovation. Without doubt it was one of the proudest moments of my life. All of the pain. All of the tears. All of the sweat. All of the blood. It was all worth it for that one moment. Thank you to everyone for their kind support.
I've received a lot of feedback about the speech since I delivered it. It is clear that people want to hear a lot more about the run across the USA. Sadly there wasn't enough time on the night but I'll be putting this right on November 10th with a talk in with the chance to ask questions too. There are so many incidents of the run that I can't talk about on this blog. Rest assured I'll be answering any question that is asked of me that night. Watch this space for more details on the talk in very soon. Just remember to keep November 10th free if you can.
After I finished talking, Peregrine Solly from The Children's Foundation talked about the work that they do and he heaped a lot of praise on myself and Katy and Jack too. Katy, almost single handedly organised the ball and Jack was a star on the night, helping out here and there as needed. It was really appreciated that he took time out to recognise the hard work that had gone into making the night such a success.
The final event of the evening was the auction. Framed garments from Stephen Miller, David Beckham and myself raised £1600 between us. The training and sparring session with boxer Tony Jeffries made £600 as did the 1 week stay in the Villa in Spain. During the auction we announced that Steven Moore had won the flat screen TV by winning the most chips on the casino tables.
Gary was the auctioneer for the evening and he did a very good job indeed. He squeezed every last pound out of the very generous audience.
The festivities continued right up until 1 am with some cracking tunes delighting the busy dance floor. A notable performance from George Caulkin (pictured below with Helen and Dianne) caught quite a few people's attention. We weren't sure where he'd been taught some of "those" moves. I think the general consensus was that they were the kind of moves that you just can't teach people. Sadly, the images I have of "Disco Pants Caulkin" are not suitable for this family website.
As the clock ticked past 1, the party moved into the hotel bar. Paul and Adam (pictured below) stayed in the function room and made sure that all the wine bottles on their table were completely empty. In their own words they were "doing their good deed for the day".
All in all, it was a fitting celebration of the 3100 mile run across the USA. It was everything, and more, that I hoped and imagined it would be. Thanks to everyone who bought a ticket and helped make the sell out event such a wonderful evening.
The charity ball made a whopping £10,000 profit. It would have been even more had there been time to fit all of the auction items in. Since the ball, the extra items have raised an extra £950 so far and there are still a couple more to go. We also didn't have the staff to run the smaller raffle that we had planned. That raffle will take place at the talk in in November. As a gesture of goodwill, we will be putting all of the guests names into the hat for that particular raffle. There are some brilliant prizes to be won.
Speaking of staff, thanks to the merry band of volunteers and helpers that made the night a success. Namely Kerry McCormack and Sandra Allen from The Children's Foundation and my wife Katy and son Jack. Thanks also to Lisa and the rest of the staff at The Marriott for being so helpful.