Children First Derby celebrated the hugely successful return of its popular annual Charity Spring Ball, held on 26th March 2022 at Morley Hayes, which raised over £8,000 to help support local vulnerable children, young people, and families.

The sold-out Charity Spring Ball 2022, proudly sponsored by East Midland’s law firm, Smith Partnership, was well attended by prominent local business leaders - many of whom donated generous prizes for the live and silent fundraising auctions which were held during the event.


Children First Derby CEO, Irshad Baqui, said:

We’re delighted to see the return of our popular Charity Spring Ball and to have received such fantastic support from the local business community. It gives me great pleasure to announce that this year’s ball has raised an incredible £8,000 and we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone here for your support this evening, and to all those who have generously donated auction prizes to help support this event. Your efforts are greatly appreciated, enabling us to provide continued support to local vulnerable children, young people and families.

The event saw guest speaker, eighteen year old Joshua Ryan, Chair of Children First Derby Youth Forum, deliver an eloquent and inspirational speech about his previous struggles with mental health, and the challenges he continues to face.

In the heartfelt speech, Joshua detailed how the charity’s ongoing support had proved instrumental in helping him move forward positively with his life and how valuable the support continues to be.

As part of the event, guests enjoyed a delicious three-course evening meal, served in the Morley Hayes Pavilion Suite, and were treated to fabulous entertainment from award winning magicians Ian Barradell, and Bernie Pedley.


Throughout the event, guests were encouraged to have their photos taken in front of the delightful Henley Foliage Wall and to post to social media, where prizes were given for the best pictures. This proved to be most popular and produced some very glamorous photographs indeed!



Long-standing supporters of Children First Derby, and Director of Merchant’s Jewellers, Karim Merchant, proved to be an excellent auctioneer for the charity’s live auction. Supported by fellow Director, Tanita Merchant, the dynamic duo enthused guests, helping to drive auction prizes up and increasing the total amount of funds raised.


In addition to the live and silent auction prizes available on the evening, the charity had previously secured some signed Derby County Football items as auction prizes, including a pair of custom-made signed football boots from England and Manchester United record goal scorer, and current Manager of Derby County Football Club, Wayne Rooney.

Some of these coveted, signed Derby County items were auctioned via the charity’s eBay account in the lead up to the Spring Ball – with Rooney’s boots fetching a winning bid of £620. And the total amount raised by the DCFC items amassing an epic £2,000 towards the overall fundraising initiative.

Towards the end of the evening, Children First Derby Fundraising Coordinator, Gina Repton, who organised the Charity Spring Ball 2022 alongside Fundraising Officer, Louise Webb, took to the floor to give special thanks to those who had generously supported the event.


And Children First Derby Chair, Fred Jacques, presented a special thank you bouquet of flowers to Claire Twells, Business Development Partner at Smith Partnership Solicitors, and proud sponsors of the Charity Spring Ball 2022. Claire was thanked for her incredible generosity and continued efforts to support the charity.


The event concluded with live music performed by renowned 5-piece Band, The Soul Council – who delivered a fantastic mix of classic Motown, Soul and party tracks, which had everyone on their feet dancing.

We would like to say a HUGE Thank You to everyone who attended the Charity Spring Ball 2022 and to everyone who kindly donated auction prizes, helping us to raise an incredible £8,000.

With a few special Thank You mentions to:

Claire Twells, Smith Partnership Solicitors - for your help and generosity, sponsoring the Charity Spring Ball 2022, and for your continued support of the charity. 

Kavita Oberoi OBE, Founder & Managing Director, Oberoi Consulting - for generously donating to our auction prizes and attending on the night

Helen Stephenson, Owner of Kedleston Country House - for generously donating to our auction prizes and attending on the night

Karim and Tanita Merchant, Directors, Merchant’s Jewellers - for your fabulous auctioneering during the live auction and for generously donating to our auction prizes 

Peter Ellse (CEO) and Amanda Ellse, Cosy Direct, who generously donated auction prizes. With special thanks to Cosy Direct MD, Nick Walker, and Finance Director, Michael McAthey, who attended on behalf of Cosy Direct, to support the event

Martin Smith, Chief Stadium Engineer at Derby County Football Club - for organising for the Derby County First Team to sign a number of DCFC items, which were donated as auction prizes.

Adam Storer, Player Logistics Manager at DCFC - for looking after our CFD team and for your help in getting Feste Ebosele and Jason Knight to present the auction items to us and asking DCFC Manager, Wayne Rooney, to meet us. 

And last, but by no means least, we would like to thank Wayne Rooney, Festy Ebosele, and Jason Knight for giving the charity their signed football boots to be used as coveted auction prizes - helping us secure £2,000 towards our fundraising total.


What a FANTASTIC fundraising event - we can't wait for the next one!