The Silk and Spice Ball

The organisers of The Silk & Spice Ball, Sara Spratt, Caryl Hogson and Mel Lawman photographed by Piers Cunliffe Photography

The “Silk and Spice” fund-raising Ball took place in September 2010 at The Royal High school, Bath.

The event was a colourful evening with Indian/African/Asian themed decor and music. Over 180 guests enjoyed fusion food and wonderful entertainment by the Bollywood dance troupe  “Angel Dancers”. In their final dance number several Year 10 girl helpers joined in with a splendid version of Jai Ho. We then went on to dance the night away.

The purpose of all this pleasure was to raise money for the school and designated charities. In March 2010 a small Ball sub-committee was set up by the Head of the Friends, Sara Spratt. Another parent, Caryl Hodgson and I set about organising the occasion.  Other “friends”, husbands, pupils etc helped with setting up, lighting, running the bar and the raffle. Sara secured the services of the BBC celebrity antiques expert Jonty Hearnden to lead the impressive auction of promises on the evening.

We were delighted with the response from parents, local businesses and other Friends of the Royal High school who gave donations and Raffle prizes. Many local shops donated ex‑display decor which I was able use to decorate the vast school sports Hall and reception areas. I must also mention the generosity of The Indian garden company for donating their exquisite parasols at cost. They were a feature on the stage. Also Tom Woods, the school caretaker who constructed the elephants. With their help, a lot of creative hard work, and clever lighting the venue was transformed.

In my search for stunning table centre decor, I came across a beautiful silk bottle cover (with the label Neem Tree Trust on the side) which a guest had given me. I imagined a display of pink, orange and black feathers, longs grasses, with sparkling birds and flowers attached… all contained in this pink/red silk holder. I looked on the Internet to discover that THE NEEM TREE TRUST was a charity based near to Bath. I got in touch with Kathy and arranged to visit her home. I was so impressed with her dedication and the work of the boys that not only did I want to purchase bottle covers and an incredible hand-made banner, I wanted the evening to benefit the charity.  When I put forward the suggestion of a donation from the profits of the Ball going to the Trust, it was immediately agreed. The “Friends” also wanted a donation to go to the Royal High School’s sister school in Kenya, The Crane Academy, where several girls are sponsored. How wonderful that boys and girls in Africa and India might receive some help. Now to the business of making a profit!!

Due to high raffle ticket sales, some spectacular Auction prizes and the skills of Jonty, we raised enough money to donate £2,237 to the Neem Tree trust and the same amount to The Crane Academy. Some of the profits also enabled the Friends to purchase new equipment for the girls. It was a tremendous success all round.

For me personally it was truly an Indian summer. I delighted in making contact with so many wonderful people. Kathy and her husband Ken have become friends. I also received a letter from Dr. Karuna Chelliah from the Home in Tirunelveli, South India, with a photograph of Kathy’s son and some of the boys.  The experience of creating the Ball for a good reason was a pleasure…and I got to dress up too!!! with my husband and my daughter.

Mel Lawson

The Royal High School, Bath