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All About Our 50th Anniversary Ball

Our service members, volunteers and staff came together to celebrate the charity’s 50th Anniversary at our 70s themed Ball in October. The special event included  games, raffle, photobooth, Guideposts exhibition, three-course meal, and live music. We hope you enjoy reading about the Ball memories, and hearing about it if you weren’t able to join us.

A pair of Guideposts friends dance while holding hands. The gentleman is wearing a red, black and gold retro suit outfit while the lady is wearing hippie style clothing with a headband, tassle waistcoat, and paisley trousers.

Why was the Ball so special?

The Ball was a celebration of the last 50 years and all that Guideposts has achieved. Since we were founded in 1972, we have pioneered a range of services for people with mental health conditions, dementia, learning disabilities, and caring responsibilities. You can watch our video charting Guideposts’ history here or read about us here

Two ladies wearing Ball gowns smile. One wears a blue dress with blue and silver beads around the neck, and the other guest wears a sparkly red dress.

Many people who attended the Ball live with autism, learning disabilities and other additional needs. Sadly, for people in these groups, the world isn’t always so welcoming and attending events can feel overwhelming. For people who use wheelchairs, not every venue is accessible, and transport costs and tickets for your carer can really add up. The Guideposts Ball sought to address these issues, so people who may have previously missed out on celebrations and events would be able to join in the fun.

Even after 50 years, our ethos remains a strong influence in all we do: we have always fought for inclusion for people with additional needs, and believe everyone in society deserves the same opportunities. We have always recognised the inequalities facing people with additional needs, and as with our inclusive FestivALL at Witney Music Festival in Summer 2022, we used the Ball to help break down barriers stopping people with additional needs from taking part in the activities and life they want.

A trio of Guideposts members and staff hold hands and dance in a circle. They are all wearing glittery dresses.

For some, the thought of being somewhere unfamiliar and with people they might not know had been worrying. One guest with a learning disability said “I have never wanted to go to a party before because I don’t like being around people I don’t know. I was excited to come here though because my friends from my group were all coming too”. Another guest with autism  said they had never been to a party with a raffle and bingo, and they were the perfect activities to enjoy while settling in and saying hello to people: “The games were really good ice breakers and helped me talk to new people”.

Two ladies in sparkly jumpsuits hold hands and dance. One wears pink and one wears cream. Both outfits are covered in sequins and each wears a crochet hat.

Other guests also remarked on how they felt comfortable meeting new people at the Ball: “I normally feel stuck with what to say when I meet new people but it’s been fun talking about our costumes!”. This wasn’t the only comment on the costumes! The night was a chance to dress up in the grooviest 70s outfits, and we saw some amazing ensembles.

Our Ball King and Queen

The Ball King and Queen were Julian and Dawn. Both have been Guideposts members for many years, and have taken part in the Guideposts Global Challenge, raising over £1000 through walking. Julian is also a Guideposts Ambassador and helps spread the word about Guideposts to his family, friends, and colleagues. Julian said “thank you for making me Ball King. It is a surprise and an honour”. Other special guests included Diana Billingham, Chair of Trustees, who cut the Guideposts cake.

Our Guideposts King and Queen. Julian wears a red suit with bow tie and red velvet waistcoat, and a crown. Dawn wears a retro style blouse, flower garland, blue wig and tiara.

Lots of guests said they enjoyed the food, especially dessert! We chose caterers Climatarian Kitchen, whose staff and volunteers were amazing at the Ball. They save food from being wasted, and ensure vulnerable people in the community have access to healthy, hot meals. Lots of other people, from our coach drivers, to our volunteers who helped the night run smoothly, and our staff and volunteers who helped set up the venue, were all fantastic.

Thank you to all our Fairy Godmothers!

Our successful Fairy Godmother campaign invited businesses and individuals to donate and make coming to the Ball possible for many more people. Our Fairy Godmothers enabled vulnerable people to have a carer accompany them free of charge, and attendees did not have to worry about the cost of transport. We had over 70 amazing donors, who donated a whopping £4000.

We can’t wait for the next Guideposts inclusive event, whether it’s our next Ball, festival, or other opportunity to get together as a community.

You can sign up for our newsletter and be the first to find out about our future events here.

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