It’s all for a good cause

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When an opportunity arose to raise money for two charities close to her heart, Journal reporter Catherine Doran and her husband Joe couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

All day on Saturday we watched apprehensively as black clouds threatened to rain on our parade.

Instead, they drifted on across the valley and we were left with a bright clear evening.

Perfect for hosting the 70+ guests Joe and I had invited to our charity gig in aid of MS Society Foyle branch and Race Against MS (RAMS).

A friend’s marquee was erected in the back garden, filled with seats and tables; a stage appeared courtesy of Unit 7 and when the damp grass proved a problem, local business In Your Space was quick to solve it with a floor made for outdoor events.

Already we were witnessing the immense generosity of the people of Derry.

In fact, ahead of the night itself, we had already been overwhelmed by the support we were getting.

Countless local businesses had donated raffle prizes, our friends, colleagues and family were buying tickets and it looked as though our hopes for a successful fundraiser were coming true.

And still, we were astounded at the numbers who came on Saturday. They arrived in droves, with smiles, hugs and best wishes in tow.

Seated in the marquee, with twinkling fairy lights setting the scene, they waited for the artists to start.

First to wow the crowd was Ciara McCafferty, backed by Ramon Ferguson, with a pure and spellbounding voice, followed by local singer songwriter Conor McAteer.

We took a short break to get everyone something to eat, with my mum dishing out plate after plate of homemade dishes, before we took to the stage to start the raffle.

Staring down at all of the familiar faces, I suddenly choked up. My resolve not to cry was broken. I simply could not believe the numbers who had turned up.

The charities we are donating all monies to have been so supportive of my family and I since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis over three years ago, and I was honoured that everyone was there to help out such worthy charities.

Prizes distributed, the main act for the night took to the stage.

A seven-strong fulfilment of Paddy Nash and the Happy Enchiladas, giving up their time so freely, all squeezed on to a six foot wide stage - it was some difference to the night they played to a jammed-packed Ebrington Square as part of the recent Clipper Festival!

They went down a storm and the night continued well into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Considering we had organised the whole event in less than three weeks, it was a brilliant night.

More than that, we have raised in excess of £2000, with the total amount still to be finalised.

So to everyone who helped, bought tickets, donated raffle prizes or simply turned up and had a good time ... thank you one and all, you are proof that the people of Derry are generous, kind-spirited and thoughtful.

We will see you all at the next one, it might just be in a few years’ time!