Une Grande Nuit is a grand success

Magnifique! – a fabulous French-themed evening celebrated the awesome achievements of a terrific team of cycling fundraisers and saw them smash the £200,000 barrier in support of Ark Cancer Centre Charity.

Une Grande Nuit was organised by the Arkriders, in partnership with the Apollo Hotel, in Basingstoke, to mark the success of three years of fundraising by the bike-riding supporters, and to pull in more money for the charity, which is raising £5million towards a new NHS cancer treatment centre in Basingstoke.

The Arkriders have been involved in four fundraising rides since 2016, and their Ark to Arc journey – which took them from Basingstoke to Paris in July 2017 – was the inspiration for the theme of Saturday’s 180-guest sell-out event.

BBC MasterChef 2016 champion Jane Devonshire, who is a supporter of the charity, designed a wonderful Anglo-French three-course dinner which was cooked by Apollo Hotel head chef John Dehelean and his team.

Other highlights at the glittering event included a good-luck video message from EastEnders stars Shane Richie and James Bye, and a rousing performance by surprise singing waiters The Rat Pack Boys which got people singing and dancing before the starters were over.

Five great prizes were generously donated for a live auction, including Jane Devonshire creating a fine dining private dinner party for eight in the successful bidder’s home; a five-night stay in a luxury hotel in Malta; a VIP day out for 20 people with a top cycling team; and the auction of a specially-created painting by acclaimed Basingstoke artist Sian Storey.

The sale of these items, together with proceeds raised from a raffle, a French twist on the heads and tails game (moustaches and berets), and from a silent auction added to the event running total, and means that £30,234.75 has been raised by Une Grande Nuit – taking the Arkriders running total well past the £200,000 milestone to £216,375.

Craig Killick, one of the founders of the Arkriders, thanked everyone who has been involved in organising, and supporting, Une Grande Nuit, and the Arkriders various fundraising rides.

After explaining why the Arkriders are so passionate about supporting the campaign to build a much-needed local cancer treatment centre in Basingstoke, Craig asked all 180 guests to stand up. He then said: “Now, can everyone who has been affected by cancer – you, family, or a close friend – please sit down.” The whole audience, except for one person, were soon in their seats.

Mark Jones, director of fundraising and communications for Ark Cancer Centre Charity, thanked everyone for their generous support, and paid particular tribute to the Arkriders, and general manager Paul Fearon and his team at the Apollo Hotel, for being the driving forces behind Une Grande Nuit.

The evening was rounded off with a disco after award-winning Basingstoke soul singer and Ark supporter Natasha Watts delivered a great 30-minute set that got guests up on their feet and dancing.

“This was an amazing, fun and successful evening which celebrated the achievements of the incredible Arkriders, and was another huge fundraising success for Ark Cancer Centre Charity,” said Mark.

Ark Cancer Centre Charity is raising £5million towards the new cancer treatment centre, and this will provide a range of support services and complementary therapies, alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, in a calm and uplifting environment.

Largely being funded by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT), plans are progressing to locate the new cancer treatment centre on the existing Basingstoke hospital site.

Picture caption: Singing waiters The Rat Pack Boys had guests at Une Grande Nuit singing and dancing before the starter course was over