Glitz, glamour at charity event

CASSANDRA POKONEY
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2011
Cancer Society Gala Ball
ROBYN EDIE/The Southland Times

DANCE TIME: Heddon Bush man Gavin Dykes and organising committee chairwoman Dee Heenan enjoying a laugh at the WHK Cancer Society Gala Ball at the Ascot Park Hotel, in Invercargill, last night.

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It had all the glitz and glamour of the Oscars, but with a healthy dose of generosity thrown in.

Dressed to the nines, a who's who of Southland turned out in force last night for the inaugural WHK Cancer Society Gala Ball at the Ascot Park Hotel.

The ballroom, decked out in red, white and black, oozed glamour.

Entertainment was provided by the New Zealand Army Band, along with Invercargill group Lipstick, and Dunedin's Gladys Hope.

Organising committee chairwoman Dee Heenan said she was thrilled with the evening.

"It's what we always dreamed it would be," she said.

Months of planning had gone into the event.

With funds raised at the ball going to help people affected by cancer, the popularity of the event showed how supportive the Southland community was, she said.

"We are really pleased with what we have done," she said.

Cancer Society Otago/Southland chief executive Mike Kernaghan said the event's success was because of the hard work of the organising committee, along with the benevolence of the Southland community. "It's just a credit to the committee who have put this together and have worked so hard for the last six months to make it work," he said.

The ball was likely to be the first of many in Southland, he said.

While for many the ball was a chance to have fun while supporting a good cause, for others it had more significance.

Heddon Bush man Gavin Dykes is one of those people. Two years ago Mr Dykes was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After 18 months of being cancer free, just before Christmas it returned.

He has just completed six weeks of radiation therapy in Dunedin.

Picked up at a routine doctor's visit, the cancer took him by surprise. There were no symptoms and he had always felt fine.

He will know on April 12 if the cancer has again gone. Labelling the date his "own personal D-day" he last night refused to dwell on the what ifs, but was instead focused on the "right now".

Events such as the ball were important for people with cancer, not only because of the fundraising, but also because it showed how much the community cared.

He urged people to get regular checkups.

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