Monday 14 October 2013

DEBRA’s Manchester Gala Dinner, The Palace Hotel

The entrance hall reminds you of the reception area of a great old-fashioned bank. Hardly surprising. It used to be the office of the Refuge Assurance Company. It’s fascinates the visitor to Manchester anyway and is a distinctive presence on Oxford Road with its striking 66 metre tower. It is a Grad II listed red-brick building. It’s even more intriguing inside and a little scary: once you’ve left the reception area would you ever find your way out again?
When we first arrived for our sound check and to try out the stage, there were still ladders up to the ceiling, speakers and mics being wired up and technicians working hard. But when we came back just over an hour later, ready to perform, the room was transformed. Images of light butterflies were projected on to the walls, generous candles burned in impressive candlesticks and the guests had started arriving in their elegant evening dress.   
DEBRA is a national charity that supports individuals and Families affected by EB – a genetic condition that causes painful skin blistering. It’s heart-breaking to see little children wrapped in bandages, with angry blisters visible on their faces. It’s even more harrowing to read of their stringent daily routines. Suddenly all of those hours of rehearsal, of learning songs in our own time and the hard work on the night seemed like the least we could do. We hope we helped somehow. We feel proud that we were part of the “live entertainment” mentioned in the posters.
“They’re going to sing you a few love songs,” said the mc. And that we did – in the widest sense of the word “love”. Included in the evening’s performance were Love is the Sweetest Thing, Let’s Do It, The Way We Were, Soul Wind, Wasma, Deep River, Joshua, Kiss the Girl, Wonderful World  and of course the two where we accompanied Megan, Longer and Imagine.    
After our performance ended, we were able to relax with a drink, listen to the after-dinner speeches and watch the bids steadily going up in the silent auction. We hope DEBRA did well at this Gala Dinner that celebrated 35 years of caring.          

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