The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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March 2019

Valentines Ball


THAT BALL!
HPC and HPS Valentine’s Ball 
in aid of C4WS
Saturday 9th February 2019


The C4WS Winter Shelter drew us all together as a community in the truest sense. Standing with a wonderful team welcoming guests and serving food on a Saturday night, it really struck me that we rarely get together and celebrate our community in a special way. Lives are busy, families are spread out, work consumes us and politics often depress us! So what better than a proper night out with friends, good food, time to chat, an excuse to get dressed up - and all in the name of a particularly worthy cause. 


The venue was booked, the caterers were on standby, the PCC agreed… so it was all stations GO! Julia and I felt passionately that this should be a true community event, open to as many people as possible, drawing in people from church, school, local businesses, the neighbourhood and beyond - an evening of fun! Looking around the room on February 9th showed us that this had certainly come to fruition. 


Here are some words from a few of our Valentine’s guests:


Jenny Lupa


When I first heard about the Valentine's Day Ball I thought it sounded like a great time. I also thought it was impossibly far away. But time marches on, even through January. Dress bought. Shoes ordered. And babysitter booked.


9 February arrived and when we walked into the UCS school hall, we were blown away by the transformation. The tables were gorgeous. The flower arrangements were stunning and every detail was flawless. I especially enjoyed reading the tags from the Hampstead Parochial School pupils on their thoughts about love.


The short film we watched about C4WS was an excellent look into the amazing work being done by this charity. It was especially moving to hear from the people who have been supported and encouraged by C4WS and to see the difference in their lives.


It was a fantastic night. Great food, so many friends (everyone looked amazing!), and dancing. And from early reports, an impressive amount of money was raised. I certainly hope we are able to do it again. Next year, Julia and Rebecca?


Judi Bevan 


What a swell party!


What a treat to see the women of the Parish decked out in their finest for the Valentine’s Ball on Saturday February 9. Gone were the sober colours and sensible shoes of Sunday mornings in favour of mainly long, elegant and sometimes colourful gowns. Julia Fletcher set the tone in a stylish off-the-shoulder red creation while the young dazzled us with glittering dresses, notably Church Warden Jenny Lupa in gold sequins neck to ankle. Everyone embraced the party spirit from the start, chatting to whomever they bumped into, discussing the latest films and plays with not a mention of church matters and hardly any of Brexit.


As 191 people sat down to dine they were handed envelopes for the raffle and encouraged to place £10 inside and write their names outside – a much better idea than all those fiddly little tickets. The takings came to more than £1,500. A delicious dinner started with smoked salmon followed by a hearty steak and ale pie served to us by members of the church led by the Vicar himself in chef’s hat and apron. Following a testing quiz, with only a bit of cheating, the Lyndhurst Collective struck up with a Beatles number and dancers surged onto the floor while the band progressed through the 60s, 70s and 80s until they lost some of us in more modern music. Dancing styles varied from the sedate to the wild with Curate Ayla and her husband taking the prize for the most abandoned. What a pity it had to end by 11.30pm!


Esther Fitzgerald


Eyes sparkled as guests entered the transformed USC school hall. Forty of my friends (mostly dog walkers and neighbours) came to the ball because they wanted to support C4WS. Few were expecting to have such a delightful evening ….. One guest wrote “the goodwill in the room was palpable - it was moving to feel part of an extensive Hampstead community.”


The evening seamlessly moved from drinks, to dinner, to dancing. Martin Bell gave us ode to growing old which added humour and gravitas in equal measure. Julia and Rebecca had crafted an evening that will be treasured in our memories for a very long time.


We know that we live in a very special part of London, but it means very little unless we connect with each other. Researchers from the University of California have discovered that caring for each other boosts our immune system, so we can be comforted that in our dancing together, we were saving the National Health Service millions!


Thank you Jenny, Judi and Esther for those lovely words. 


Julia and I would like to thank all of you for the part you played in what we felt was a very special night, spending much needed time with friends whilst celebrating an incredible charity. Whether you gave time, energy, your skills, money or your company - it was wonderful to have so many of you there with us during this event. With a couple of bills left to pay, it would appear that your generosity has raised in excess of £12,000 for C4WS. I'd say that’s a rather amazing amount to come from one very special evening. 


Here’s to the next one!


Rebecca Dodson 

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