It's a $205K happy ending for The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon A Time

Partial proceeds from private school gala will provide financial assistance to deserving students

Whoever said life isn’t a fairytale obviously didn’t buy tickets for Saturday night’s signature fundraising gala for Ashbury College.

Some 330 guests attended this year’s Ashbury Ball, held in Rockcliffe Park at the 126-year-old private school.

Its fairytale mash-up theme of Once Upon a Time meant guests travelled the yellow brick road before jumping down the rabbit hole to an enchanted forest full of live music, high-end auction prizes and food from Creative Kosher Catering. Everyone dined in the school gymnasium, which moonlights once a year as a giant ballroom.

With men in tuxedos and women in fancy ballgowns, there’s no saying who was the fairest of them all.  

Ashbury Ball
Sarah and Michael Waters, chief executive of The Minto Group, at The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon A Time, held at Ashbury College private school in Rockcliffe Park on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ashbury Ball
Cindy Tomlinson Keon, co-owner of Tomlinson Group of Companies, with her husband, lawyer Ryan Keon, at The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon A Time, held at Ashbury College in Rockcliffe Park on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Peter Nicholson, founder of Foundation WCPD, with his spouse Anabel Bane, at The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon a Time dinner held for Ashbury College on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Whitney Fox with her husband, Dan Goldberg, CEO of Telesat, at The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon a Time, held at Ashbury College private school in Rockcliffe Park on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Guests sipped on Love Potion cocktail drinks, served out of beakers with dry-ice effect, and were poured champagne from above, by an aerial bartender.

Belting out tunes on stage during the reception was Isabella Nicole, a Grade 10 student at Ashbury College. She's so good that a mandatory time-out from mingling should have been called, just to make sure everyone got to hear her sing.

Playing the roles that night of fairytale heroines and event co-chairs were Ashbury moms Jenny Shinder and Micheline Saikaley. The evening netted $205,000 to help with the school’s financial assistance programs and to renew and enhance its science and innovation spaces.

On hand was Ashbury’s head of school, Norman Southward, with his wife, Anna Rumin, who together helped to raise $3,000 by donating to the auction a dinner for eight in their home.

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From left, Ashbury College moms Jennry Shinder and Micheline Saikaley co-chaired the school's signature gala, The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon a Time, held at the private school on Saturday, November 18, 2017. In the background is student Isabella Nicole performing during the cocktail reception. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ashbury Ball
Norman Southward, head of school at Ashbury College, with his wife, Anna Rumin, at the private school's signature gala, The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon A Time, held in the school's gymnasium on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Serving as emcee and auctioneer this year was well-known Ottawa radio personality and Ottawa Senators PA announcer 'Stuntman' Stu Schwartz, who's also friends with Shinder and her husband, Jason Shinder, principal at District Realty.

The live auction raised more than $75,000 while the proceeds from silent auction added another $30,000, or thereabouts.

Auction items included a kitchen or bathroom renovations package from Astro Design Centre that sold for $10,000. A one-week holiday at a luxury condo in Turks and Caicos, donated by Steve and Krista Barban, pulled in $9,000 while a stay at Peter Nicholson's Grand Isle Resort in Exuma, Bahamas, brought in another $6,000. 

The always-popular embassy group dinner saw top bidders pay between $4,000 and $5,000 for an evening with Denmark's Ambassador, Niels Boel Abrahamsen, and with Spanish Ambassador Enrique Ruiz Molero. A five-course Tuscan-themed dinner for 12 to be hosted by Claude Bonnet and Caroline Vecchio in their home earned $6,000 while a dinner for 10, with wine, in the private dining room of Riviera restaurant sold for $5,000 – higher than its suggested value of $3,000.

Four tickets to this weekend's Grey Cup, donated by Gary Zed, went for $1,500 while diamond earrings from Howard Jewellers got snapped up for $3,500.

A trip to New York City to see the award-winning musical Come from Away, donated by iPolitics publisher James Baxter and his wife, Sarah Baxter, sold twice, to the top two highest bidders, raking in $10,000. 

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Jamilah Taib Murray, chair of Sakto Corporation, and her husband, Sean Murray, president and CEO of Sakto Corporation, at The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon A Time, held at the private school in Rockcliffe Park on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Jeff Hill with Leigh Harris Fowell (Halo Management Consulting), Janice McDonald (The Beacon Agency), Rachel Baxter, and Stephen Bleeker (Assurance Home Care), at The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon A Time, held Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ashbury Ball
From left, Jason Shinder with his wife, Jenny Shinder, co-chair of The Ashbury Ball, and their friends Leila Ages and Stuart Ages, vice president at Paramount Properties, in the gymnasium – though you'd never know it – of Ashbury College on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ashbury Ball
From left, Dr. Sanjay Acharya, president of the medical staff at the Queensway Carleton Hospital, with his wife, Colleen, University of Ottawa Heart Institute cardiologist Derek So with his wife, Dr. Judy Shiau, medical director and lead physician of the LEAF Weight Management Clinic, along with celebrate philanthropist Gary Zed at The Ashbury Ball, held Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Josh Zaret, vice president at Gemstone, with his wife, Jen Zaret, and their friends, 'Stuntman' Stu Schwartz and his wife, Connie Bernardi, at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 18, 2017 for the The Ashbury Ball: Once Upon A Time. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Ashbury College alumnus Mitch Kurylowicz, founder of Project Jenga, with his parents, Lynda and Stan Kurylowicz, at The Ashbury Ball held at the private school in Rockcliffe Park on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ashbury Ball
Micheline Saikaley, co-chair of The Ashbury Ball, with her husband, Elie Nasrallah, and their daughters, Brianna, 15, left, and Alexa, 14, at Ashbury College on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

- caroline@obj.ca