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A gala ball at Wolverhampton Racecourse (Saturday 20 May) has raised over £18,500 – to be divided between Cannock-based Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children and Kid’s Intensive Care and Decision Support at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

The event was organised by Joanne and Daniel Matthews, from Pattingham in South Staffordshire. It was held in memory of their young son, Wilf, who passed away in 2014 at the age of three.

Wilf was born with a genetic condition called Acromicric Geleophysic Dysplasia, an extremely rare genetic disorder which affected his skeletal development and consequently his breathing; he spent a significant amount of his three years at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and received vital equipment support from Newlife.

The event was called The Big Red Bus Ball in tribute to Wilf, whose favourite nursery rhyme was ‘The Wheels on the Bus’. It was the second ball organised by his parents, with the help of family and friends; the first was in 2015 and raised over £18,500 to help other organisations that supported Wilf during his short life.

Mum Joanne Matthews said: “We had a wonderful night. Over 200 people attended, enjoying a drinks reception with live music from Wilf’s Carnival Ukulele Band. Guests were invited to look around the wonderful Big Red Bus parked outside and later enjoyed an extremely successful auction and a raffle full of prizes. The night was topped off by a live performance from ‘The Mark Black Band’, who had guests dancing in to the early hours.

“Daniel and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the Big Red Bus Ball 2017 – whether it was by donating an auction or raffle prize, helping us with the organisation, buying a ticket or entertaining the guests. We are again very grateful for all the support people have shown. We are still collecting the last of the donations but we have raised at least £18,500. To raise more than we raised in 2015 is absolutely amazing!”

Joanne added: “We know there are other families who have to deal with similar circumstances to ours – and this fundraiser will help support two of the organisations that continue to support them.

“Newlife provided us, at very short notice, with a specialist buggy to carry Wilf and all of his life-saving equipment. This made a huge difference to us at the time, enabling him to get out of the hospital ward that he was stuck on and even enabled him to board the ‘big, red bus’ that visited the hospital especially for him.”

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. Every penny of the money donated to the charity from this event will be used to directly provide vital equipment for children in Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Newlife Regional Fundraising and Awareness Officer Meredith Lambert said: “It was an honour to be part of the Big Red Bus Ball and we are so grateful to Joanne and Daniel for their kind gesture of donating a proportion of the funds to Newlife. Those funds will enable us to help more children like Wilf who are in urgent need of vital equipment.”

Pictured: Wilf and his sister Violet