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Revellers raise record $140,000 at CareFlight Gala Ball

More than 500 guests dressed to impress on Saturday night while helping to raise $140,000 for RACQ CareFlight at the charity’s annual Gala Ball.

The stunning Empire Theatre in Toowoomba was filled to capacity with revellers digging deep to raise the record figure.

In the seven years since CareFlight’s Gala Ball was first held, the event has raised more than half a million dollars, helping to fund countless lifesaving rescue missions across the South West.

RACQ CareFlight’s Wayne Evans said the Gala is now one of CareFlight’s biggest annual fundraisers.

“We were hoping to raise the magical $100,000 figure, but we far eclipsed that,” he said.

“Everyone was dressed to fit the Venetian Masquerade theme in fabulous frocks, stylish suits and masquerade masks.”

Guests dined on a sumptuous three course feast while bidding on auction items such as holidays to Tuscany and Phuket and a unique CareFlight experience which was won by major CareFlight supporter, Clive Berghofer, who was honoured on the night for his $1 million dollars worth of donations to CareFlight.

A $10,000 diamond necklace, donated by Bruce Robinson Diamonds, was also raffled off.

“Lucky guests Jeff Dodd and Tina Fulton-Kennedy took home the stunning, custom-made diamond pendant necklace,” Mr Evans said.

More than $96,000 was raised from the auction items alone.

One hundred and fifty limited edition Masquerade themed CareFlight bears were also raffled off, pulling in an additional $11,000.

“The entertainment was the highlight of the evening with local songstress Tess Barr performing a tribute to the RACQ CareFlight Rescue crew with a rendition of Mariah Carey’s hit song ‘Hero’,” Mr Evans said.

“We also had a performance by tenor Lachlan Baker and dances by the Venetian Goddesses,” he said.

A heart-warming presentation was also made to RACQ CareFlight CEO Ashley van de Velde recognising his 30 years of service to the charity.

Organisers wished to thank the Toowoomba community for wholeheartedly embracing the Gala Ball event over the past seven years.

“We went from having around 300 guests at our very first event to capacity crowds of more than 500 people in just seven years,” Mr Evans said.

“We’re now at the point where we are struggling to find a venue to cater for more than 500 guests and even had to turn people away this year because of high demand.”

Plans are already underway for the 2014 event.