They shall go to the ball

A Diamonds and Tiaras Masquerade Ball at the Pullman Lodge in June will raise money for the Sunderland Royal Hospital Renal Unit.
A Diamonds and Tiaras Masquerade Ball at the Pullman Lodge in June will raise money for the Sunderland Royal Hospital Renal Unit.
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AN evening of glitz and glamour is being held in memory of two lifelong pals.

The family of late Sunderland dad Bobby Woodhouse have teamed up with the family of his close friend, singer Peter Conley, to raise funds for Sunderland Royal Hospital’s renal unit.

Bobby, of Red House, who died in 2008 aged 63, had pledged to donate a kidney to Peter, one time lead singer of 60s group The Apaches. However, he suffered a stroke before he could fulfil his promise.

Though he couldn’t help his friend, who died the following year from kidney failure aged 64, his organs did save other lives.

Now his family and Peter’s son, Shaun Foster Conley, from hit ITV show Benidorm, are hoping to help future patients by hosting a Diamonds and Tiaras Masquerade Ball at the Pullman Lodge Hotel in Seaburn.

Bobby’s daughter, Joanne Woodhouse Graham, 41, of Town End Farm, said: “As well as raising money, the night is a way of honouring their friendship.

“They had been lifelong friends and worked together at Austin & Pickersgill’s shipyard since they were teenagers.

“Dad was shop steward for years and got into a lot of bother with the bosses as he was always sticking up for the lads. He was also one of the last men to leave the yard as they locked the gates for the last time.”

She added: “Peter had been ill for a while and dad had got us all together to say that he wanted to donate a kidney to him.

“Three weeks later dad had a stroke and died. We checked with the donor team and though dad and Peter weren’t a perfect match there were two men waiting for kidneys that were, so their lives were saved.”

A highlight of the night, which takes place on June 30, will be a performance from Shaun Foster Conley, from Fence Houses, who has shot to fame after becoming a regular singer on comedy show Benidorm.

Organisers are also looking for “normal-sized” models to take part in a fashion show on the evening which will feature Spanish and Italian wedding gowns from Elite Bridal and evening wear from Debenhams.

There will also be jewellery stalls, prizes to be won including a photo shoot with Helen Russell Photography and a performance from the Lisa Clinton School of Dance.

Printcentre, on Fulwell Road, has also donated promotional items for free to ensure as much money as possible goes to the hospital unit.

* Tickets, which include champagne and nibbles, are £20 and are available from 551 0666 and 07786 010623.

Anyone interested in modelling on the night can email Joanne at joanne_graham_2007@hotmail.co.uk or search Diamonds & Tiaras Charity Masquerade Ball on Facebook.