Journalist Phil Duffell, who lost his wife Ainslie to breast cancer five years ago, is close to reaching his goal of raising £50,000 to create a legacy in her name.
Tickets are now on sale for The Purple Soiree, a fundraising event to be held at Doubletree by Hilton in Swindon on Thursday April 30, to reach the target which will kick-start plans for rebuilding or refurbishing the cricket pavilion at Purton Cricket Club.
The celebratory evening will be the pinnacle of five years of fundraising by her Phil, son Alex (now 19) and friend Fiona Scott and a whole group of Ainslie’s friends and family members.
The trio set about raising the money after discovering Ainslie’s journal following her death. In it, she described her sadness at not being able to watch Alex play cricket in her final months, as she was bound to a wheelchair and there was no access. And so Ainslie’s Pavilion Project was created.
“When Alex and I read about her sadness at missing him batting his first century in cricket, we knew we had to do something. This £50,000 shows sporting and community bodies that we’re serious about creating a legacy and a community asset for anyone involved in local cricket to enjoy.
"As Purton Cricket Club is the oldest in Wiltshire and celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, it’s the perfect time make this final push,” Phil said.
Fiona, a PR consultant and journalist based in Swindon, Wiltshire, said: “I don’t know much about cricket however when Phil & Alex asked if I would support them in a project to rebuild the cricket pavilion at the Purton Cricket Club so that no other wheelchair user would be denied access – of course, I said yes.
"The £50,000 will allow us to apply for other grant funding to rebuild the pavilion in Ainslie’s name.”
Now just £1,000 off target, this event will raise the final sum before grant funding can be sought. A new pavilion would also include toilets and changing facilities for girls and women who play cricket. These are not currently available at the outdated building.
Fiona added: “It seems very poignant that the project will be completed during such a landmark year for the club. Both Phil and Alex coach there and are passionate about the sport, which Ainslie fully supported them in.
“I know she’d be delighted to know that the club will be accessible to all, no matter their physical situation, and we hope this lasting legacy of her will bring joy to the lives of local residents for many years to come.”
Early-bird tickets to The Purple Soiree cost £45 per person and are on sale now. The only rule is that guests must wear something that is purple - Ainslie’s favourite colour.
“It could be a tie, socks, a cravat, a hankie, a dress, shawl, piece of jewellery,” Phil said. “Purple was Ainslie’s favourite colour and we want the evening to reflect that in a fun way.”
Tickets include a drink on arrival followed by a three-course meal and professional photographs taken at the event. To book visit http://bit.ly/2Tg8vd8
Pictured: Fiona Scott and Phil Duffell