2015 Ball raises $200,000+ for Autism

It’s become something of a tradition eagerly anticipated by guests at the annual Grocery Charity Ball, that the night should be highlighted by the appearance of a surprise international celebrity act.

Once again, the sold-out crowd of 650 at this year’s 12th annual Grocery Charity Ball held on the last Saturday of winter at the Langham Hotel in Auckland were not disappointed, as Australian Idol winner Stan Walker grabbed the mic and took to the stage. And judging by the throngs that took to the dance floor, the appearance by Stan was one of the most popular gigs ever – despite throwing the carefully choreographed run-time of the ball in to disarray.

No doubt Sam Wallace, on his second appearance as MC at the ball, will take a little credit. For it was his ‘challenging’ disco moves with the supporting disco fever act which got the crowd warmed up to the theme of this year’s ball : Heed the Call of the Disco Ball. ‘Sam the Weatherman’ proved yet again that when it comes to ceremonial mastery, the moves of the body can be mightier that the mouth.

But it would have to be the outstanding generosity of the guests which continued from where it left off last year. Over $200,000 was raised on the night from pledges, silent auctions, live auctions, raffles and more for Autism New Zealand, bringing the total raised by the balls over the past 12 years to some $2.75million. The final figure raised on the night will be announced shortly.

The New Zealand Food & Grocery Council also used the occasion to announce two new industry Lifetime Achievers.

Geoff Harper, recently retired from Nestlé, was accoladed for his industry-wide work over the past 40 years improving the supply chain. Veronique Cremades, CEO of Nestlé, gratefully accepted the award on his behalf while Geoff holidayed in Europe.

And in an unusual, but hugely popular award, Lorna King from the Green Bay New World Supermarket was feted for her 40 years of service with Foodstuffs. In the words of Pierre van Heerden, Chair of the FGC, not only was the length of service remarkable, but it was also remarkable for the fact that Lorna had never taken a sick day over that time.

Applications to be the beneficiary of next year’s ball (to be held in August 2016) have already closed, and the process to choose next year’s beneficiary begins immediately and will be announced later in the year.