AN X-Factor star and former member of legendary soul group The Drifters will be performing at a charity ball organised to raise funds for children with a rare, life-limiting disease.
Pierre Herelle will be there with four-piece Motown act The Soulstars at the seventh annual A-T Spring Ball at Chester Racecourse on Saturday, April 28.
The black-tie event is organised by Wrexham businessman Vaughn Rawson, managing director of Rawson Digital, and his wife Joanne to help those living with the rare genetic condition known as Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T).
The children of Vaughn’s close friends have the disease and Vaughn and his wife have been on a mission to raise funds towards medical research to speed up the process of identifying a cure or developing treatments which can delay or prevent A-T. To date, Vaughn and Joanne have raised a staggering £200,000 for the cause.
The condition, which affects around 200 children in the UK, is a genetic disease which affects multiple systems of the human body.
Father-of-two Pierre, who appeared in the 2007 series of the X-Factor, is looking forward to playing his part in making it a memorable night.
He said: “It’s always nice to be involved in a fundraising night. I’ve got two children myself so just hearing about the condition and the impact it has is heartbreaking.
“I’m looking forward to the event and being part of a night that supports such an important cause.
“We can promise an amazing night for everyone in attendance. We’ll have you up dancing from the first song to the last.
“We’ll be getting everyone involved and making them part of the show. It’s going to be a fantastic night.”
It was more than five years ago that Pierre, who lives in London, became one of the vocalists who have graced The Drifters line-up since they formed in the 1950s.
It was an experience he will never forget and led him to form his own Motown tribute act.
Pierre said: “I’ve always been into music since I was little. I grew up with Motown music and went on to play in various bands.
“I was part of The Drifters for just under three years. I knew a couple of people who had been in the group previously and that helped me.
“I got an audition and then I was in the band. It was a really good experience for me. I learned a lot.
“To be part of something so big was amazing. We used to do all the theatres across the UK and even some abroad.
“The Drifters have a big fanbase so most theatres were sold out. It was a really good time.”
Pierre formed The Soulstars in 2015 with his business partner Roya Boloorsaz and their venture has gone from strength to strength.
He said: “We obviously play Motown classics but we also throw a few pop songs in such as Bruno Mars or Take That. They all have a Motown vibe to them.
“It’s a bit of fun to mix it up. Once the crowds are up for it and we’ve won them round, we slip in a few current hits to charge it up. The crowd really appreciate it.
“Soulstars has been a big success for us. We’re out playing every weekend and booked up all the time. I’m blessed, I always dreamed of doing music full time.”
It’s not all been plain sailing over the years for former bus driver Pierre and he credits his appearance on the X-Factor as a turning point when a career in the music business looked a distant dream.
He explained: “I was part of a group at the time called Ghost. We’d been having a really bad time.
“Our manager who used to support us died and then our studios were raided. We used to make all our own music and it all got taken.
“We were at desperation point. We didn’t believe in reality TV, we wanted to do it organically, but we thought what did we have to lose?
“It was a lifeline in the end. We got to judges houses and ended up in Marbella with Simon Cowell. It was a great experience although we didn’t manage to get through to the live shows.
“But I’m glad we did it. The X Factor played a role in where I am now. It was part of the path.”
Vaughn Rawson, whose fast-growth 50 company supplies and maintains photocopiers and printers to firms across North Wales and the North West, saw last year’s event raise a whopping £40,000.
That amount was partly donated to Action for A-T, a Surrey-based charity set up in 2011 by the parents of a child with the condition, which seeks to increase investment in A-T research and raise awareness of it.
The other half of the money raised went into a trust fund which has been set up to help Vaughn’s close friends and their family.
Vaughn, from Gresford, is looking forward to this year’s event although he says it’s always a night of mixed emotions.
He said: “The atmosphere is always great and I know we are in for a fantastic performance from The Soulstars which will get everyone up and dancing. We are really looking forward to seeing their set.
“But we never forget why we are there and the families we are trying to help who are facing the most horrendous of circumstances.
Vaughn said: “The event takes a lot to put on every year and we simply couldn’t do it without the support from our main sponsors who have supported us year after year to ensure the event is a real success.”
One of the main sponsors for the event are Mercer & Associates Wealth Management based in Chester.
Darren Mercer, Managing Director for Mercer & Associates, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to once again be sponsoring such a wonderful event and playing our part in helping a very deserving cause.
“I would urge people and businesses to come and support the ball because it is always a fabulous night with a brilliant atmosphere which is why we never hesitate to get involved each year.”
Also supporting the event are Chester-based Jolliffe & Co Solicitors.
Simon Williams, Jolliffe & Co Managing Partner, said: “Jolliffe & Co are delighted to be sponsoring the A-T Spring Ball again this year. The work that Vaughn and Joanne have done in organising this fantastic event over a number of years is simply incredible. A-T is a devastating disease and the annual Spring Ball is so important for raising the profile of the fight against it, and of course much needed funds for continued research.
“This really is the highlight of the firm’s social calendar. Our clients absolutely love the event and this year’s looks like being the best yet. Vaughn and Joanne have got a brilliant lineup of entertainment together, and the auction promises to be as fun as ever.
“We can’t wait for 28th April. We’re looking forward to a wonderful evening, and to helping raise some money for a great cause.”
Most children with A-T appear healthy during the first years of their life before developing problems with poor balance and reduced motor coordination which is when families often realise something is wrong.
As the child gets older, cells start to die which control fine motor coordination. Their health deteriorates and most children are confined to a wheelchair by the age of 10. They are also at an increased risk of developing cancer and their immune system is weakened.
A-T does not affect the mind and there are no learning or social difficulties linked to having the disease.
To buy your tickets for the ball go to www.atspringball.com
For more information about A-T go to www.actionforat.org