Friday 3 December saw the Yacht Club De Cannes transformed into the venue for a Traditional English Christmas as Jenny Green hosted a Gala Christmas Dinner to raise money for research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Jenny is a victim of this progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones leading to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing and ultimately death. There is currently no known treatment for MND but Jenny is an incredibly positive and enthusiastic person and despite knowing that her own situation cannot be improved she is absolutely determined to make the best possible use of her remaining life to ensure that those diagnosed with MND in the future have a better chance of good treatment and hopefully even a cure.

Friday’s Jenny Green Challenge Fund Gala Christmas Dinner brought together over 100 Dragon sailors, Yacht Club de Cannes members and friends of Jenny’s for a fabulous evening of frivolity and fun combined with some serious fundraising. The Yacht Club catering staff did a fantastic job of creating a traditional English Christmas dinner including roast turkey with all the trimmings (Cranberry sauce was handmade by Jenny!). Gavia Wilkinson-Cox and Fi Brown organised the decor and fundraising activities with much help from numerous friends and supporters (particular thanks to Sue for building the amazing flower arrangements which included lilies donated by Gerard Blanc and to Lisa, Roger and Mark who also helped with the fundraising on the night).

For the fundraising activities prizes and auction packages flooded in from friends and supporters across Europe and many thanks are due to all those who contributed in this way. A full list of prizes and donors is available Here. Thanks also to all the incredibly generous guests who purchased raffle tickets or took part in the Silent and Main Auction events.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by the amazing Eddy Friend and his band with guest singer Fran├žois Giraud helping out on vocals. Throughout the evening the band took requests and provided the perfect mix of festive tunes, classics and dance music to ensure there was something to please every taste.

The audience was multinational including French, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English, German, Ukrainian, Finnish, Monegasque, Russian, Dutch, Italian, Irish and Hungarian. For many it was their first “English” style Christmas but they took to crackers, paper hats, party poppers and whistling rocket balloons like ducks to water and threw themselves into the celebrations with great enthusiasm. Some also added their own special twists to the evening with gift such as Hungarian Brandy (thanks to Lorand Gombos for this extremely tasty but highly dangerous treat!).

Master of Ceremonies for the evening was John Coveney, who was also taking charge on the water for the weekend’s Coup d’Hiver Dragon Regatta – the final fling of the Cannes Dragon season. John’s impressive ability to present in both French and English ensured everyone was able to follow activities and he did a sterling job of encouraging the audience to give generously throughout the evening.

The most moving part of the evening came when Jenny herself took the microphone to explain a little about Motor Neurone Disease and the need to raise funds for research to help ensure better treatments for future sufferers. MND appears to be completely arbitrary in its choice of victims and anyone can be struck down by the illness making it potentially relevant to every single person in the room. She thanked everyone who had supported her since her diagnosis and helped her in her various fundraising challenges. Finally she paid an emotional tribute to her family and in particular to her husband Malcolm for their tireless support every step of the way.

With the final accounting taken care of the evening was declared both a social and financial success raising some Euro 12,300 for MND research. If you would like to donate to the Jenny Green Challenge Fund to support research into MND please Click Here.

You can catch up with Jenny’s own thoughts on the event over at her Blog.