Year 10 Carrickfergus Academy pupil Madison Wright swapped the classroom for the ballroom recently, hosting a black-tie Gala Ball to mark 21 years of the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice in the iconic Titanic Suite at Titanic, Belfast.
Inspired by the story of brother and sister Noah and Gracie Coates, who both suffered from the life limiting, genetic disease Leukodystrophy, Madison’s fundraising journey began when she was a 10-year-old pupil at Central Integrated Primary School. Appointed the first ever Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice Youth Ambassador in June 2020, Madison had already raised £15,000 for the charity before setting her sights on her biggest fundraiser to date:
Reflecting on her latest initiative which has added £37,750 to that £15k, Madison commented:
‘When I heard about Noah and Gracie I just wanted to help. It all started with non-uniform days at school, hosting coffee mornings, where and when I could, and even sponsored leg waxes…sorry Dad! People have always been so generous with their support and donations which is what encouraged me to think bigger.
‘Noah sadly passed away in 2019 and I was keen to celebrate his life and do something in his honour. I floated the idea of a Gala Ball with my Mum and Dad and they, as always, told me to go for it. Lockdown caused a bit of a delay but the planning meant we had something positive to work towards and the dates actually coincided with what would have been Noah’s 16th birthday weekend!’
The event, compered by broadcaster Cate Conway, also involved a post dinner auction and ballot supported by numerous local businesses, accounting for over £13k of the final figure.
Thanking the various sponsors involved – Platinum Sponsor Pinnacle Solutions, Silver Sponsors Re-Gen Waste and EJC Contracts, as well as Bronze Sponsors, Ulster Hockey, Manfreight Ltd, Specsavers (Newtownabbey), Henry Brothers and Ryobi – Madison commented:
‘It is because of the support of local businesses and individuals that this event was even possible. It’s not every day that people are approached by a 14-year-old asking for money to support an idea she has so I am very grateful that they trusted me to do what I promised.
‘As well as raising money for such a worthy cause we had an incredible night and danced the night away. I’ve only just recovered! I think I’ll start planning for 2023 now!’
NI Hospice Chief Executive, Heather Weir, congratulated Madison saying: “We are all so proud of our youth ambassador Madison for her wonderful achievement with the Gala Ball. This has taken many months of planning and lots of hard work. Madison’s dedication to the Children’s Hospice really is admirable. We are so grateful for the amazing amount of money raised and, on behalf of everyone at Hospice, I want to thank Madison, Matthew and Angela Wright for their ongoing support.
“We’re facing an extremely difficult time due to the current economic climate and it is only through the generosity of local people like the Wright family that we will be able to continue to deliver our vital care services.”