Giggles and tears at Sprowston event that raised £10,000

Nelson's Journey comedy ball

Nelson's Journey comedy ball - Credit: Archant

Thousands of pounds have been raised for a Norwich-based children's bereavement charity.

Nelson's Journey comedy ball

Nelson's Journey comedy ball - Credit: Archant

A comedy gala and auction was held for Nelson's Journey after the charity revealed the number of youngsters using its services had risen dramatically.

More than £10,000 was raised at the event.

People placed bids for a host of luxurious lots including a holiday for four in the Caribbean, Virgin Atlantic flights to New York and the chance to go on Soccer AM.

The event was held at Sprowston Manor Hotel.

One lot that caught lots of fans' eyes was a signed Wayne Rooney Manchester United shirt, which caused a bidding war.

Eventually the winner walked away with the piece of memorabilia for £500.

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The money raised will help the charity provide much-needed support to families after the number of children using the service rose by 18pc.

Simon Wright, CEO of Nelson's Journey, said: 'We are seeing record numbers of people coming to us for help and it's absolutely crucial for us to keep pace with this increasing demand.

'It's been an incredible night, and events like this aren't just great for fundraising but also to get the word out so people know the work we are doing for families who suffer tragedy and need help.'

The glitzy event, sponsored by the East of England Co-op Funeral Services, included a moving speech by widow Ria Cork, who shared how Nelson's Journey had been there for her and son Riley following the tragic death of her husband, Neil.

She told the crowd: 'Life literally stopped for us and Nelson's Journey saved our souls.

'They helped Riley deal with his grief and they taught us that we'd never be the same, but we could be whole again.

'Even years later, when Riley was struggling with his A-levels, he was able to dip back into the service and they helped him get back on track. They helped me get my son through this and now he's living a happy, normal life.'

There were also plenty of laughs on the night – especially when Britain's Got Talent finalist, Steve Hewlett, took to the stage with his puppets, which included Simon Cowell, Pongo and Arthur Lager.

Mr Hewlett, a ventriloquist, said: 'Events like this are very emotional but at the end of the night people want to laugh.

'The speeches really touched me because I've lost a couple of friends recently and they left children behind, so the work Nelson's Journey does is very close to my heart. So being here tonight is very special.'