Met Ball 2023

Adam Gainford –

Laura Risley –

They said it couldn’t be done. Two Met Galas in one week?! Ludicrous, people will get confused! Well, thanks to the hard work of this year’s organisers, we’re fairly certain everyone made it to the correct event and with the appropriate attire. Although I am still waiting on that cat suit I ordered…

All jokes aside, this year’s Met Ball was held at the Meadow Suite on Friday 5th May, raising money for the Reading San Francisco Libre Association. The department has close ties to the RSFLA through the David Grimes Trust, and helps to support the people, development and environment of San Francisco Libre, Nicaragua. Just last year, the RSFLA helped provide families in the area with chickens to improve incomes and diets, on top of the ongoing support for the community centre and environmental centre in the town.

After weeks of planning, deciding menus, fixing typos (I hope you all enjoyed your lamp rump by the way) and asking for prize donations, the night finally rolled around. We were delighted to be joined by Nicola Tipler, Clive Tipler, Paul Starkey and Caroline Starkey from the RSFLA, who provided information boards and newsletters about the trust. We thank them for their attendance and for very generously providing four of the prizes including the highest selling item in the auction. We were also very pleased to welcome the Deputy Mayor of Reading Cllr Debs Edwards and her husband Alun Edwards to the event. Cllr Edwards gave a great speech before the raffle and was very enthusiastic during the auction! We hope she enjoys her tickets to the Newbury races!

We also heard from Devon Francis before the auction, who talked about the impacts that the trust has on the people of San Francisco Libre. Having visited the town herself, she has seen what a difference this support can make to the lives of so many within the town. The trust is in need of volunteers to help with admin and decision making, if you think you could help please see the contact information at the bottom of this post.

On the night we had a delicious three course meal, a raffle and an auction. Natalie Ratcliffe sure enjoyed the raffle, beating the odds and winning three prizes! Though very kindly donated the third, ain’t she kind! We had some great raffle prizes all donated from people in the department, such as Keith Shine, to local companies such as Mama’s way. Sorry to all those who didn’t win, you’ll just have to bribe next year’s organisers better! After dessert and all the speeches, we commenced the auction! Again there were some fantastic prizes to be won, in particular the Mr Met Mugs made their second appearance this time featuring Pete Inness, Ed Hawkins, Andrew Charlton-Perez and Sir Brian Hoskins! Thank you to Jon Shonk who never fails to wow us all with his Mr Met creativity! The rest of the night was left to music and chatting, with a surprise spot of karaoke thanks to Hette Houtman and Ankit Bhandekar (do we see potential Met Ball 2024 organisers??). 

We would like to thank everyone who attended, we had a great time hosting and we’re pleased to have raised so much money for the trust. Thanks to all of your tickets, raffle sales and auction prizes, we managed to raise £1,225 for the association, with almost £800 coming from the auction alone! Special thanks go to all those who very generously gave prizes for the evening. We can’t wait for Met Ball 2024!

If you would like to donate to the Reading San Francisco Libre Association or get involved with the Trust, please visit the website or contact Paul Starkey (

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