Teenage rugby player to attend Butterfly Ball
Aaron Thomas from Barnwood, in Gloucester, will experience the full glare of the media spotlight next week when he attends one of the most prestigious fundraising events in the UK.
The 18-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, a condition that causes the muscles to stiffen and leads to poor coordination, will be a special guest at Caudwell Children’s annual Butterfly Ball, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair, London, on Thursday 13th June, 2019.
Caudwell Children is one of the leading children’s charities in the UK. The Butterfly Ball is the charity’s annual, flagship, fundraising event.
Sir Bruce Forsyth, Rod Stewart, Simon Cowell, Joan Collins, and Sarah, Duchess of York, have been among the 800 guests at previous events and last year’s glamorous fundraiser raised over £1.5million for the charity.
This year’s Ball, hosted by long-standing Caudwell Children ambassador Peter Andre, will culminate in live performances by Chaka Khan, the ten-time GRAMMY Award winning singer and songwriter, and Leona Lewis, the British singing sensation and winner of The X Factor who has sold over 20 million records worldwide.
Aaron, a former Hartbury College student, is a keen wheelchair rugby player but despite playing elite level rugby, for Premier League outfit Medway Dragons, he had to borrow a specialist sports wheelchair to play the game he loves.
But thanks to dedicated fundraising support from Caudwell Children, Aaron received the £4,609 he needed to buy a specialist wheelchair, which has allowed him to excel in the sport.
Aaron is one of six lucky beneficiaries of the charity who have been invited to the Ball and his mother Amanda, aged 39, says he’s extremely excited about attending the event. As she explained: “We were both dumfounded and shocked when we received the invite and I think I’m just as excited as him.
“I couldn’t wait to ring my mum and tell her that she could attend the Ball too, as she’s been there for me and Aaron from birth, attending every operation and giving me the support I’ve needed.
“Aaron is really looking forward to Leona’s performance and he’s also been catching up on some of Chaka Khan’s classics.
“We’re going shopping for new outfits this weekend, it’s going to be such a great experience for the whole family.”
Trudi Beswick, Chief Executive of Caudwell Children, says that she’s delighted that Aaron will be attending this year’s Butterfly Ball. As she explained: “His story is remarkable, he loves his rugby so much that he undertakes an incredible 338 mile round trip from his home in Gloucester, to Gillingham, in Kent, to train with his teammates every week.
“That’s what I call dedication. But after all his efforts on the rugby pitch, and the arduous travelling in the car, we wanted to treat him to something that he will remember for the rest of his life.
“I’m sure that he will be happy posing and chatting on the ‘Red Carpet’ with stars from the world of music, sport, film and television. It’s going to be a great night for him and the family.”
Proceeds from the event will be used to transform the lives of disabled children living in the UK through a range of services. Since 2000 the charity has provided over £40million worth of support to over 40,000 children with over 650 conditions.
For more information about Caudwell Children’s services visit the web page here.