Why are we advertising that our next Winter Ball will be the best ever? As I write this the wonderful memories of each annual ball are flooding back. The support for these annual events is overwhelming, many selling out in a matter of days, and each one brings more guests along, some regular attenders and some new. They are always an amazing night and very well planned and executed by my amazing cousin Ashley Rumbol and her husband Anthony. The donations are AMAZING for our legendary raffle and auction; Flights to New York, A luxury stay in Cannes, Afternoon Tea at Fortnum and Mason, Vouchers, Harrods and Fortnums Hampers, Designer items and Booze to name just a few.
Ashley and Anthony began organising the Winter Ball shortly after the charities inauguration in 2011, a wonderfully selfless thing to do, and they ROCK at it!! We can't thank you enough.
I remember a trip with Matthew to see Bob the Builder in Kingston Upon Thames' Bentall Centre. It was in the spring of 1999 I think, and with a friend and his mum we excitedly met the man himself and asked lots of questions. During this trip we mums noticed Matthew limping, we checked his shoes, his legs, even got his feet measured to make sure his (fairly new shoes) still fitted him. Nothing seemed wrong until a few days later his right knee began to swell and hurt. To cut a long story short, he was soon diagnosed with Junior Idiopathic Arthritis. Long words for arthritis, similar to that of elderly patients, however there is no cure and no apparent cause, except a slight link to Chicken Pox he had a few weeks earlier.
The limp was always there, worse on some days, better on others. As he grew, the arthritis spread to his knees, ankles, wrists, spine and jaw. In pain often, lots of hospital visits, different drugs, physio and friends and family support helped him through. The stronger drugs made him sick, the injected drugs he hated, made me a nervous wreck but we got on with life. We realised that the arthritis was not going anywhere so contacted an amazing charity, the CCAA (Children's Chronic Arthritis Association), who invited us along to a specially formulated weekend where we all leaned about arthritis, how to help symptoms, met other families going through the same thing and had lots of fun. When the weekend was over they explained that funding was limited and that they may not be able to help as many children in the future. Matthew was upset by this, because he had taken so much positivity from the weekend and asked us if he could do something to raise money to help other children. He was 10/11 at this point and we were delighted that he was thinking of others. The first event was organised, a charity barn dance; a total sell out in our local village hall, Matthew was thrilled to gather raffle prizes and help with anything that needed to be done; on the night he loved reading out the raffle winners and counting up the total funds raised; a HUGE £2,500.00.
Just one of the many reasons we came together to set up The Matthew Hackney Foundation in his memory, a boy that loved helping others and would have wanted to continue.