Parkinson's UK Oxford Branch Parkinson's UK, our parent charity

July 2019

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The Great Gatsby Ball and London Marathon

 David Casey


My son Chris Casey is never afraid of a challenge and had been trying for several years to get a place on the London Marathon. He was delighted, when he phoned me back in December 2018, to tell me that he had indeed got a place for next year’s event. He said he intended to run for Parkinson’s UK and needed to raise £2,000 to meet the entry requirement. “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to have some fun whilst raising the money?” Chris said, ‘so I think we should organise a charity ball’. I agreed it was a great idea but was there a risk that the event could lose money? Various discussions took place between us and I said that I would contact my musician friend Chuck Lloyd, who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, to see if he could help provide a band for the event. In the meantime the search for a venue was on!


In February Chris started a new job at Heathrow Airport and was also making arrangements for his wedding in June. So I was naturally concerned he was taking too much on, including finding time to do all that training for the Marathon. After many discussions Eynsham Hall was the chosen venue for the ball and Chuck was happy to for his Oxfordshire Youth Band to perform, together with blues singer Ma Bessie. The next step was for Chris to create a flyer for the ball with a Great Gatsby theme. Once this was done Chris, Chuck and I sent numerous emails and spoke to friends to publicise the event, including enlisting the support of the branch and in particular Sally Bromley who kindly agreed to come to the ball and give a speech. Chris decided he wanted to hold an auction and raffle to raise additional funds. Chris and I worked hard to put ideas into action and call on friends, businesses and relatives who we thought might provide some of the prizes etc.

The Ball

There were lots of preparations on the day of the ball. Chris did the seating plan, my daughter Helen decorated the tables with helium balloons and nameplates, and I was sent off to pick up lighting gear for the band.

All ninety-one guests gathered in the beautiful cocktail bar of Eynsham Hall, dressed up in our finest 1930s clothes, for a glass of Prosecco. We then moved into the dining room for a delicious meal. Ma Bessie sang and Chuck played the saxophone whilst we ate.

After the meal Chairman Sally gave an amusing and heartfelt speech, giving an insight to living with Parkinson’s, which was met with rapturous applause. Chris and his girlfriend Kelly then held the auction and raffled some excellent prizes. I think the crowd were overcome with auction fever as a surprising amount of £1,600 was raised. It was then time to dance the night away to the Oxfordshire Youth big band and their glamorous singers, conducted by Chuck. It rounded off a great evening and I enjoyed dancing with Sally who was literally having a ball!

The London Marathon

Two weeks later wife Mary and I travelled to London to watch Chris run the marathon. At 7am Chris went off from his home in Richmond to the start at Blackheath in East London. We travelled across London and battled with crowds on the tube to Canada Wharf and then to Canary Wharf, to give him a cheer. At this point he was running at a three-hour thirty pace.

We dashed across to The Mall to the final straight to see him finish the race. However, we were shocked to see him come past being supported by two other runners. He was obviously suffering from dehydration, which he said had affected him in the last two miles. After an hour in the First Aid tent to recover we were able to congratulate him. Well-done Chris! He had ultimately raised £4,000 for Parkinson’s UK from receipts from ticket sales from the ball and the auction and donations from friend and others, including support from members of the branch. We are very proud of his achievement!

We are immensely grateful to David and Chris for this wonderful and challenging effort to raise funds and raise awareness, achieved quite independently and without any significant help from the Branch Committee.

If you have an idea for a creative or spectacular new fundraiser, don’t hesitate to talk it over with a Committee member or with any of your friends in the Branch.

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