CHARITY patrons Peter Andre and Jodie Kidd, and vice president Sally Gunnell were among the 535 guests at Chestnut Tree House’s fundraising ball, The Snowman Spectacular.

A total of £404,665 was raised at the Hilton Brighton Metropole on Saturday to support children with life-shortening conditions and their families.

Inspired by Raymond Briggs’s classic picture book, The Snowman, the 12th annual fundraising ball for the hospice near Angmering was hosted by BBC Sussex presenters Allison Ferns and Danny Pike.

The Snowman himself attended to meet and greet guests before appearing on stage to deliver a message from Chestnut Tree House patron Mr Briggs.

He said: “I’m delighted that my Snowman and I are involved with this wonderful charity. When I created The Snowman over 40 years ago, I could never have imagined the pleasure he would bring to so many young lives.

“I am sure The Snowman Spectacular 2019 will be fantastic and I hope you will give generously this evening to enable Chestnut Tree House to continue to care for some of the most deserving children in our community. Thank you, and may you have a very happy Christmas.”

Guests enjoyed live music from acts including tribute band Killer Queen.

There was a heartfelt speech by Trina Beckett, who explained what Chestnut Tree House’s care and support means to her and her family.

Trina’s son, Craig, has a progressive neurological condition which means he is very fragile, has no independent movement and needs round-the-clock care. In 2008, when Craig was seven, Trina and her husband found out about his condition and were told that he would probably only live for another year.

This year will be Craig’s 11th Christmas since his diagnosis.

She talked about how Chestnut Tree House is a place where her boys spend their best time together, and the family can create precious memories to last a lifetime.

Trina was introduced and thanked by Chestnut Tree House Patron, Peter Andre; and Craig’s older brother, Adam, joined her on stage at the end of her speech.

This was followed by an auction, led by auctioneer Nick Muston. There were a host of “money-can’t-buy experiences” for guests to bid on, including an Olympic experience in Barcelona with gold medallist Sally Gunnell, which went for £1,700; tickets to see Peter Andre in Thriller Live (£2,400); and a chance to learn to cook with MasterChef Champion 2018, Kenny Tutt (£4,000).

The highest amount raised for a single lot was for a golfing day at Beaverbrook with Jodie Kidd, which includes a helicopter flight courtesy of AJW Aviation and dinner at her pub, The Half Moon in Kirdford, which went for £17,000.

Brighton businessman and patron Robbie Raggio took to the stage for the final two auction lots – asking people to donate or pledge to “pay for a day” or “pay for an hour” of care for children with life-shortening conditions. Guests pledged to pay for 42 days of care and a further 130 hours of care.

Rosemarie Finley, chief executive at Chestnut Tree House, said: “It was a spectacular event, and we’d like to thank everyone who joined us and helped make it happen. We are always humbled by the support shown at The Snowman Spectacular and £404,665 is an incredible amount of money.”

Pictures: Graham Franks Photography