ABSOLUTELY everybody who attended Saturday night’s Absolutely Everybody Spring Ball in Tamworth enjoyed themselves but the moment was so much more special for one of the debutantes – thanks to a local fairy godfather.
It’s safe to say Bernadette Valentini had the night of her life on Saturday.
Until Saturday afternoon no one was sure she would even be able to make it to the event.
Bernie, as she likes to be called, has an intellectual disability and felt ill with pneumonia in the lead up to making her debut.
Earlier last week she was so unwell she had been put on a respirator and was quite seriously ill in the Tamworth ospital Intensive Care Unit until Thursday.
Spring Ball committee member Michael Ticehurst said after Bernie had been taken off the respirator Dr Chris Trethewy had made the executive decision to accompany her to the town hall so she could still make her debut.
“Apparently she had the debutante dress hanging up in the hospital since last Tuesday and there was some talk that she had specifically told doctors she couldn’t have an operation because her debut was coming up,” Mr Ticehurst said.
On Saturday night Dr Trethewy and an ICU nurse ensured Bernie was as well as she could be and, with the help of other ICU staff, decorated Bernie’s wheelchair and took her to the ball.
“It was lovely to see such generosity,” Mr Ticehurst said.
At this year’s ball there were 16 debutantes and their partners – not all of them disabled.
“Two of our debutantes didn’t have disabilites,” Mr Ticehurst said.
“We even had a husband and wife team sign on. She was in her 50s and he was in his late 60s and they signed on because neither of them had done their debut when they were younger.”
The Absolutely Everybody Spring Ball is the culmination of a five month development program.
“We use it to create a sense of community,” Mr Ticehurst said.
“It’s about excitement, enthusiasm and learning some new skills and it’s great fun.”
Earlier this year the ball was named the runner-up in NSW Disability Innovation’s egional innovation awards, a result of the successful inaugural ball in 2011.
In 2011, 21 people made their debut.
Mr Ticehurst said such was the success of the program there were already eight expressions of interest from debutantes for next year.
The ball is a joint effort by a number of organisations including Northcott Disability Services, Challenge Disability Services, The Sunnyfield Association and Bullimbal School.