Tears and joy at Ria ball

PUBLISHED: 11:42 12 November 2010

DRESSED in a rainbow of gorgeous gowns, friends and family of schoolgirl Ria Helsdon put lipstick on brave faces to raise more than £5,000 in her memory.

Coming down from the buzz of arranging the Butterfly Ball for Ria, whose death in March, aged 14, shattered all who knew her, were her three best friends Beth Crowe, Savannah Bradley and Sapphire Withers.

The three girls, helped by Savannah’s events’ co-ordinator sister Emma Howard, had hoped to raise around £2,000 to send a sick child on the Florida holiday Ria was too ill to take.

But with around 180 people attending the ball at Great Yarmouth Racecourse on October 22 and hundreds more buying raffle tickets, they reached their target almost three times over.

Beth’s mum Angie Crowe said so many acts of kindness had contributed towards the charity sum. More than 100 raffle tickets were sold among Beth’s dad’s colleagues at Blundeston Prison alone. A similar amount was donated direct to the Make a Wish Foundation by people who knew Ria at her local medical practice.

She said: “The girls were so pleased and the next day they were buzzing. They raised much more than they thought and the amount of raffle tickets people bought was amazing. Everyone has been so generous. The prizes kept coming in, it was lovely.

“Make a Wish were going to send Ria to Florida but she became too ill to fly so the girls wanted to raise enough to either send another child or to grant smaller wishes to several.”

Behind the scenes, the girls spent months doing the humdrum work of selling tickets and collecting prizes – culminating in the glittering occasion which mixed celebration and sadness. Pictures of Ria looking glossy and gorgeous reminded everyone of the tragedy that overshadowed the party, and a speech by Ria’s mum Heather made tears prick and chins wobble throughout the room.

The night ended with the release of Chinese lanterns from the grandstand balcony.

Ria, of Beatty Road, was only 10 when she was diagnosed with cancer. Her four-year battle saw her bounce back from the brink more than once, astounding everyone with her humour and fortitude. Poems found after her death revealed a perceptive intelligence that was able to shape her plight in words she did not speak for fear of upsetting those around her who cared so much.

The money raised will be handed to the Make a Wish Foundation which funded a trip to New York for Ria and her family which proved a real boost.

Other News


Children from schools and academies in Norfolk and Suffolk came together to celebrate the festive season.


Two motorists were arrested overnight and more than a dozen drivers were stopped, as the winter drink and drug driving campaign continues.


The community have been asked to come together to help feed abandoned pets spending Christmas in rescue centres.

For most people Christmas day is a time for celebration, giving and receiving presents, drinking and eating lots of food alongside family members.

Most Read

Yesterday, 16:01

Parents at a Norfolk academy have described their anger after finding out that if their children had missed a day at school they would not be able to take part in a non-uniform day.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:12

Ambulances have been head butted, kicked, and had blue lights ripped off in shocking acts of vandalism on the emergency vehicles - sometimes while crews have been trying to treat patients.

Read more
Thu, 09:34

A 46-year-old shop assistant was racially abused by a customer in Great Yarmouth.

Read more

Plans for a former pub to be turned into a luxury tobacconist have been put under fire by a nearby health centre, with bosses arguing it would “give out entirely the wrong message”.

Read more
Mon, 18:00

School trips usually involve taking children to see one of Shakespeare’s great plays or visiting a historic museum.

Read more

Local Weather

Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 4°C

min temp: 2°C

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the Great
Yarmouth Mercury

e-edition today


Newsletter Sign Up

Great Yarmouth Mercury weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy