The Prosecco was poured, the Silent Pool gin tonic-ked and the opera singer set as the first guests trickled through the doors of the Guildford Harbour hotel to our Fire and Ice Ball.

Set up around the bar were several tables filled with goodies- one was overflowing with gorgeous raffle prizes kindly donated to us from a variety of local businesses and supporters, one displayed our silent auction prizes, and the final table, our piéce de résistance, held our Tree of Life, a twisted Pine tree covered in hand-blown glass baubles. Each bauble had a tag attached and, on the tag, a donation value and a description of what that donation would mean to Cherry Trees. This was a new addition this year and our wonderful volunteer Kate, who is the mother of a Cherry Trees child, fully engaged our guests with stories and personal anecdotes about the charity as she encouraged them to make a donation for the baubles.

As the room filled up, people started to mill about, buying raffle tickets and familiarising themselves with the silent auction prizes. The opera singer, Karina, sang beautifully on the terrace, and the unseasonably warm weather encouraged the guests outside as they stood chatting over their welcome drinks. Our guest of honour for the night was Megan, one of the Cherry Trees children, who looked absolutely beautiful in her shiny blue dress. It meant so much to us that she could be there, and we know that the guests loved her as well. Thank you for coming, Megan!

8:15 rolled around, our toastmaster and auctioneer extraordinare, Ralph, announced the arrival of the 1st course and the guests settled down to their tables. After a wonderfully heartfelt speech from Claire, our C.E.O, the guests tucked into their delicious 3-course meal. Both the wine and conversation flowed freely and plentifully throughout dinner and by the time the live auction kicked off, everyone was feeling relaxed, happy and ready to bid.

After some impressive bidding wars (some so entertaining I felt like I was watching a Wimbledon match!), the auction was over and the guests dispersed to the dance floor, casino and silent auction table. The rest of the night whirled by in a haze of laughter, dancing- to some amazing music provided by our band, Blind Alley- and fun, and by the time the evening drew to a close we had managed to raise just over £11,000 for Cherry Trees.

None of it would have been possible without the help of our wonderful volunteers who oversaw the smooth running of the night, our toastmaster Ralph who got everyone involved in the live auction, every one of our donors who contributed prizes for our auctions and raffle, and, finally, our guests. Cherry Trees would like to say a huge thank you to every single one of you for your kindness, generosity and continued support. We would be lost without you!

Photos by Fabian Lee: