Dromore firefighter Estelle Gibson (nee Poots), who lost her life to cancer in 2003, was the inspiration for an event that raised a ‘stellar’ £20,472 for Cancer Focus NI.
Organised by a group of Estelle’s friends to mark the 10th anniversary of her loss, aged 30, to ovarian cancer, the Star Ball saw almost 500 people gather at Belfast’s Titanic complex in what would have been her 40th year.
There they astonished organisers by more than doubling the £10,000 charity target and prompted plans for a second annual ball later this year.
The ball was spearheaded by Lynne McCabe, who gathered together some of Estelle’s many friends.
Among the organisers was Sarah Gilliland, who also lost her husband to cancer in 2012.
Moved to do something special to remember Estelle, she said, her friends were astounded by the extent of the ball’s success.
“We want to thank everyone for their support,” she said. “It was fantastic, before, during and after the ball, especially the many people who donated to the raffle and auction, which was conducted by Robert Wilson of Robert Wilson Estate Agents.” Sarah hailed the event too as a great way for everyone to gather and remember lost loved ones .
She stressed that all money raised would go to Cancer Focus to help fund equipment and research.
Spurred on by the great success of the event, she and her friends now mean to try and raise an even greater total with their second annual Star Ball in October, for which they have already booked the Titanic venue.
“We already have a lot of people interested,” she said. “We’re hoping to match what we raised first time around or even do better.” Anyone interested in learning more about plans for the 2014 event can do do so on Facebook under ‘The Star Ball’.
Meanwhile, special thanks for the inaugural ball also go to Cancer Focus, whose team provided prizes and a squad of helpers on the night.