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FERC annual Gala Night at Le Grand Lanna

FERC annual Gala Night at Le Grand Lanna

Magnificent surroundings for a charity party

Michael Vogt
Photos by Marion Vogt

The 6th fund raising Gala of The Foundation for the Education of Rural Children (FERC), took place in the grounds of one of the outlets of the upcoming Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Hotel, and was a huge success for the children of Mae Sariang.

The Foundation was established in the year 2000 by the late Gary Dilley, a retired banker, who was a polio survivor and especially sensitive to the needs of disabled people. He led the foundation through its formative stages and was instrumental in all of their building projects.

The caretakers of the foundation, Renee Vines, Celeste Tolibas-Holland, Annelie Hendricks, Dr. Rebecca Lomax, Luxamie Utaipol-Dumur and her husband Marc, spent countless hours to organize this event, the first one since Gary died in 2003, and the Chiang Mai community, known for its soft spot for charity, turned out in full force.

Upon arrival, they were treated to a cocktail reception, and enjoyed the opportunity to admire and bid for the numerous items at the silent auction. From Spa Vouchers to Lanna paintings, from air tickets to huge candles, there was something for everyone.

The MCs of the evening, Chiangmai Mail MD Michael Vogt, and an old friend and renowned TV personality, Dr. Penguin, introduced the FERC committee, and Marc Dumur briefly outlined the principles of the foundation, and then Renee Vines emphasized that it would have been Gary’s wish to have a most joyful and fun-filled party that night, rather than a somber affair.

And joyful it was - almost 200 guests indulged in a very long and delicious Buffet, laid out jointly by Le Grand Lanna and the Amari Rincome Hotel, accompanied by bottles of red and white wine on the table.

‘Dang Fantastic’ and his Band provided the right tone for the dinner period, before students of the Huay Singh School took the stage. 38 of them did not want to miss this opportunity to personally say ‘thank you’ to all the donors and FERC itself on that night, and for most of them it was indeed their very first trip outside their little village. One can imagine that they will remember this spectacular night for a long, long time to come. Their preparations not only included three traditional dances, for which they made their own stage costumes and outfits, they even had their own MC, who very professionally presented and explained each individual show, notably in English and in Thai. This was very well received by the audience, and the children deserved the applause they received after their performances.

Le Grand Lanna’s own spectacular performance was next, and history became alive when dozens of actors and dancers introduced the audience to the mysteries of the Lanna culture, explained and described by their own lovely MC. Looking at the faces in the audience it was obvious many had never seen anything like that, and wanted to catch the spirit of each moment photographically, and many used the opportunity have pictures taken with the actors after the performance. Unconfirmed reports suggested that Howard C. Graves, Jr. was honorary advisor to the costume design department!

Of course the main purpose of this spectacular night was to raise funds for the children, and what better opportunity than through a live auction. MC’s Dr. Penguin and Michael Vogt were yet again called upon to encourage the audience into digging into their pockets, and Frank Weicks assisted by presenting the items and vouchers to the audience.

Among those items were such diverse articles as a Ramayana figure reproduction, donated by Richard Dixon of CDC Designs; a return flight Chiang Mai-Bangkok including a three night river cruise, donated by Asian Trails; a swan temple candelabra, donated by Khun Dang of DNK International; a cooking class at the Lanna Cooking School, donated by Patrick Ghielmetti of the Four Seasons Resort; and a balloon flight for 2, donated by Oriental Balloon Flights of Chiang Mai.

The generosity of the audience was highly appreciated, and only very few people had to be coerced by Dr. Penguin during a one-on-one conversation. Some of the bidders went even so far to outbid themselves, much to the entertainment of the onlookers, and much more to the benefit of the children.

After the drawing of three additional ‘Grand Prizes’, and 18 more ‘Raffle Prizes’, Dang Fantastic and his Band started to rock, and the dancers started to roll, and the very entertaining evening came to an official finale having raised more than 300,000 baht for the children.

A very successful event, with many happy and smiling beneficiaries, and the Foundation wishes to express its sincere gratitude to all sponsors of the evening, knowing that without them, their goal could not have been achieved. In no particular order, Meritus Mandarin Singapore, Silk Air, Thai Airways International, The Grand Luang Prabang, Orient Thai Airlines, The Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok; CDC Design, Asian Trail Travel BKK, Bangkok Airways, Phuket Air, DNK International Co. (formerly Nakee’s), Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Oriental Balloon Flights Chiang Mai, Angsana Spa Chiang Mai, The Fillmore East, Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, Royal Plaza on Scotts Hotel, Singapore, Sheraton Chiangmai, The Legend Spa and Resort CEI, Suriyan Chandra, To Nobody Restaurant, Chiangmai Mail, Amari Atrium, Amari Watergate, Baan Celadon, Baan Sabai Resort, Baan Saen Doi, Celeste Tolibas-Holland, Chaophya Park Hotel Bangkok, Chiang Mai Sky Adventure, Christian and Hanna Velder, Cindi and Steve, Citec Asia, Diamond Cottage Resort HKT, Doi Angkhang Nature Resort, ETA (Thailand) Co., Ltd.; Fai Ngam, Golden Jade Export Co., Ltd.; Gong Dee, HQ Group Co., Ltd.; Jirun Spa of Eternity, Jo and Russ Steele, Karon Beach Resort Phuket, Kata Beach Resort Phuket, Krisdadoi Chiangmai Aprime, Lanna House, Layan Beach Phuket Aprime; Living Space, Mae Rim Ceramic, Maesa Elephant Camp, Meo Chai Dee, Mom Tri’s Boathouse, Phuket; Montien Bangkok, Nai Ampure Surachai, Nenna Studio, Orchid Jade Factory, Pan Sea Hotel Hong Kong and Luang Prabang, Paradise Beach Resort Phuket, Phuket Orchid Resort, Phulay Beach Krabi Aprime Resort, Rose Garden Aprime Resort, Bangkok; Sofitel Central Plaza Bangkok, The Evason Phuket, The River House, Chiang Rai; Carol Stratton, Sachiko Kobayashi, Tony Ball, and last, but not least, Huay Singh School Mae Sariang.

Renee Vines (left) gave a short speech in memory of the late Gary Dilley, the founder of FERC.

Jay came from Hawaii and won a roundtrip for two on Silk Air plus a two night stay at the Meritus Mandarin Singapore. (From left) Becky Lomax, Marc Dumur, Isabel Seierman and Jay Blanchard the Rotary President of Waikiki Hawaii.

The young prince is welcomed during the dance drama on stage.

Students of Huay Singh School personally say ‘thank you’ to all the donors and FERC.

Some people needed a little bit of ‘convincing’ by Dr. Penguin to bid during the auction.

Helpers, sponsors and volunteers worked endlessly to welcome over 200 guests at Le Grand Lanna, the upcoming Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Hotel

The exotic ambience of Le Grand Lanna made the performers look even more exotic.

The organizing committee and caretakers of the foundation (from left) Renee Vines, Annelie Hendricks, Luxamie Utaipol-Dumur, Dr. Rebecca Lomax, Celeste Tolibas-Holland and Marc Dumur.

Lucky winner Lindy Santitharangkul (2nd from right) took home a roundtrip ticket for two on THAI and two nights stay at The Grand Luang Prabang.

Mrs. Saiyoot Yanasan took home a roundtrip for two on Orient Thai Airlines and three nights stay at the Dusit Thani in Bangkok. Marc Dumur, Isabel and Michael Vogt congratulate her.

Elegant ladies and gentlemen from the north (from left) Pim Kemasingki with friend and Anne and Armin Schoch.

During Cocktails, guests looked at the many beautiful items in the Silent Auction.

Winifred Ho was ‘the lucky one’ with the highest bid on the ‘swan temple candelabra’, donated by Khun Dang of DNK International. MC’s Michael Vogt and Dr. Penguin handed over her new treasure.

An unplanned performance when Paul Mahoney became the ‘victim’ or the ‘assistant’ (?) of Dr. Penguin.

Frank Weicks assisted during the Live Auction. The Ramayana figure reproduction, finished to look exactly like antique wood was donated by Richard Dixon of CDC Designs.