An incredible community response to a first awards night held in memory of the Isle’s original ‘child of courage’ Alexander Strong has stunned organisers.
Requests for early tickets for the 2015 Pride of the Isle Awards have almost doubled the number of this year’s attendees, making the event a virtual sell-out a year before it even takes place.
And it was confirmed this week that the sum raised by the night for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice is £3,620.
Organiser Leesa Sharpe of Epworth told the Bells: “I’m staggered by it all. The Pride of the Isle has been the talk of the Isle since January 25, and everyone who was there on the night is still buzzing. Anyone who wasn’t there seems determined to be next year!”
Almost 400 people have requested tickets for the second function that is now certain to take place.
“This is totally amazing as there were just 216 tickets sold this year,” added Leesa. “I still have people ringing me and stopping me in the street. When I woke on the Sunday morning after the awards I had 500 notifications about the event to read with photo tags and messages of congratulations. All I can say is that next year will be even bigger and better and we are searching for larger premises. But we need to stay local.” Leesa said that Isle band The Torn will perform again on January 24 2015, and Star Wars storm troopers confirmed they can make the date. Isle actress Sheridan Smith, who took to the stage to sing at this year’s celebration, has indicated she will be there unless restricted by filming.
The late Alexander Strong’s mother, Maxine, is heavily involved. The event is in honour of the memory of Lexy, a year after he lost his brave battle against the rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma.
Mrs Strong said: “It’s all wonderful, and fantastic that this has been for Alexander...to remember him and give awards to others who deserve to be recognised for many reasons. There are so many people working hard to fundraise for people and charities, or who are strugglng with illness.
“When my daughter Olivia and I went to London, and I received a posthumous mother and son award by the Caron Keating Foundation it was only a short time after we lost Lexy, and it gave me a much needed boost. It helps people to be encouraged and to know they are being supported.
“The fact that people are so keen to attend the awards next year is an amazing tribute to an amazing little boy, and to the work done behind the scenes. Leesa Sharpe is an incredible woman, and I hope the event will continue to grow every year.”
All those who are clamouring for Pride of the Isle tickets will, however, have to wait until July, when they will go on sale officially. Leesa added: “It is always local people who support me in fundraising ventures so I want to pay them back by keeping this event local.
“Isle businesses look after each other and give their services, raffle prizes and themselves for causes. So Pride of the Isle is also for them. We couldn’t have hoped for a better response.”
Epworth town councillor Graham Wilson said: “The awards was an absolutely fantastic event and what was raised in one night by the ladies who organised it was tremendous. They deserve credit and I thank them on behalf of the town council. I was proud to attend with nine other representatives from Isle town councils.
“I’d also like to personally thank the Co-op Epworth for being our official sponsor.”