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Dickens summer ball almost scuppered by Prime Minister Theresa May

The summer ball has become an integral part of the summer Dickens Festival, but this year’s event was almost scuppered by the Prime Minister.

Everything was booked for Thursday, June 8 – the venue, the caterers, the band – until Theresa May decided to call a general election on the very same day.

The date of the ball had to be changed because many people going would also be involved in the count.

Sue Haydock, with friends at the Dickens Ball
Sue Haydock, with friends at the Dickens Ball

The ball, which marks the start of the Dickens Festival, has been running for around 20 years – organised by Ashley Davis with the support of his family. But with the passing of the years and age creeping up, the Davis family’s last event was the Mistletoe Ball, held before the Christmas Dickens Festival in December.

The baton was handed over to the former Mayor of Medway, Sue Haydock.

She said: “The balls have become an established part of both the summer and winter festivals, attracting nearly 200 people dressed in their finery, with the ladies looking particularly resplendent in their Victorian ball gowns.

”The men also make an effort, dressing in everything from white tie and tails, to military uniforms and smart frock coats.”

After the Prime Minister’s announcement put the ball in jeopardy, Mrs Haydock made several phone calls and sent out emails. Fortunately Rochester’s Corn Exchange, the caterers and the band were free for the next night, and so were all those who had already bought tickets.

Mrs Haydock said: “The unfortunate bit was that all the free periodicals had gone to print with the date as June 8. Posters were reprinted, those on the mailing list were notified and the council amended all the information on the website, Twitter and Facebook. A lot of hard work and additional costs, but the ball is now on track.”

The Summer Ball takes place on Friday, June 9, at Rochester’s Corn Exchange and plans are under way for the Winter Ball which will be held in early December.

Tickets, costing £32 per person and including a three-course meal, are available from www.medwayticketslive.co.uk or the box office on 01634 338338. Visit www.rochesterdickensfestival.org.uk or email dickensballinfo@aol.com to find out more.

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