On Sunday 23rd June, the stage was set, the marquee built, the props assembled and the doors almost ready to be opened. After months of preparation, The Style Edit in association with Drenagh House Estate was ready to launch its Midsummer’s Afternoon Tea and Garden Party in aid of Foyle Hospice.
Nestled in beautiful parkland, the breathtaking views of the gardens and the Georgian Mansion provided the ultimate venue for an event centred around style, positivity and raising money for an important cause. In short, a Midsummer’s garden party in the stunning grounds of Drenagh House felt like a match made in heaven.
As guests started arriving it was over to MC, Gerry Lavery and the creative team at The Hype Factory who, armed with their cameras were ready to take in the summer style and interview guests upon arrival. With a whole host of stylish guests gathered in one place, not a stone was unturned without a touch of midsummer’s magic – ready and waiting for the Instagram crew to get that all important shot. And boy, did they get the shot.
The theme of the day was present throughout with a beautiful green backdrop intwined with summer flowers and Edison lights setting the tone internally plus the addition of real trees as centrepieces on the tables helped to really bring the outside in. Externally a full size draughts board, summer seat, picnic area and a bespoke crescent moon made for the perfect posing props on what was a warm and sunny June afternoon.
Kickstarting an afternoon of blissful entertainment was music from harpist Lesley Magee followed by singer, Mairead Carlin as guests took to their seats to enjoy afternoon tea courtesy of Drenagh House Estate.
Next up was the highly anticipated fashion show with CMPR models, Rebecca Maguire, Aimee Boyle, Sophie McGibbon and Maria McGuigan alongside Celeste Fitzpatrick and Aimee Kirk. During the fashion show collections were presented from designers Riona Treacy, Catriona Hanly, Blush Boutique as well as handmade headwear from Grainne Maher Millinery.
Riona Treacy, known for an almost forgotten shibori hand dye technique, has established herself as a bespoke womenswear designer over the course of her career in fashion. She launched into the mainstream following her recent participation in London Fashion Week, during which her launch has since seen her featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Italia and named by Forbes Magazine as “One to Watch in 2019”.
Belfast’s Blush Boutique provided dresses from its Kevan Jon range. Renowned for their fit, cut and proportion, the collection incorporates a super sexy selection of dresses and head turning tailoring which demand more than a second glance.
The fashion show finale saw designs from Irish designer Catriona Hanly who studied her craft at Central Saint Martin’s in London. With a focus on working with heritage pieces that make a unique style statement season after season, the inspiration for the collection shown was based around gifted artists and composers, including Beethoven and Michael Angelo, with rich fabrics such as silk and velvet paying homage to their muses and giving guests insight into the luxurious look and feel of Catriona’s work.
Adding the perfect finishing touch to each look were the beautifully handcrafted, headwear pieces from Gráinne Maher Millinery, who for the past ten years has been leading the way in terms of millinery trends, new designs and materials. Her most recent leather florals collection has combined a new technique with the finest metallic and nappa lamb’s skin, Swarovski wirework and eye catching shapes, to create a unique, signature style unlike any other.
At the heart of the event, the brainchild of Anne-Marie Kealey, Principal of St Matthews, Drumsurn; Drenagh Estate Managing Director, Chris McLaughlin and TSE founder Jenny Taggart, was the aim to boost fundraising efforts for the Foyle Hospice which provides ongoing palliative care services for patients with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses while supporting their families and loved ones in the North West of Northern Ireland. It is committed to improving the quality of life of patients while extending care and support to their families and loved ones.
Explaining the personal significance of the event Anne-Marie Kealey said: “My mother, Bernadette McWilliams, spent her last few days in Foyle Hospice before passing away last year. I’ve seen first hand the incredible work the staff there do and it’s a cause very close to mine and my family’s hearts.
“To be able to put on such a beautiful event while raising money for such a worthy cause felt like a very fitting tribute and a way of giving something back.”
“Drenagh House is delighted to have played host to such a worthy event,” commented Drenagh Estate Managing Director, Chris McLaughlin.
“It’s been fantastic to see so many people from the local area and beyond come together to support the Hospice.”
Another event highlight was a panel discussion on the theme of healing with a conversation between local influencers and mental health experts about the power of positivity. Chaired by international bestselling author, inspirational speaker and metaphysical healer, Dr Mary Helen Hensley, panellists, Patricia Scanlan, Cathy Martin, Annette Kelly, Louise McDonnell, Sinead Hegarty and Debbie Le discussed their experiences in using positivity to overcome turmoil, tools for introducing more positivity to our daily lives and how they have forged a successful paths for themselves by using positivity to their advantage.
From start to finish the day was a consistent celebration of local talent with guests enjoying performances from Irish tenor, George Hutton, Innova Dancers and The Bentley Boys, all of whom brought the house down with their impressive musical and dance flair.
Speaking on behalf of the Foyle Hospice, Donal Henderson, CEO of Foyle Hospice said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with the enjoyable and entertaining event held in the beautiful grounds of Drenagh Estate. It was a perfect day and as always we are so grateful for the support and generosity people show towards Foyle Hospice.”
Paying tribute to those who helped make the event possible Jenny Taggart said: “Midsummer is a time associated with thankfulness and light over darkness so it seemed a fitting theme for an event intended to celebrate life and the incredible work that the Foyle Hospice do.
“We’re so grateful to all our sponsors, speakers, exhibitors and guests who helped make the day such a success and for helping to raise money for such an amazing cause. Particular thanks go to our brilliant Toast Master, Derek Ewing; SBD Events for our fantastic props; Event AV NI for looking after the sound system; Audrey Kelly for photography and Victoria Dallas from Wedding Room NI for helping to bring my vision for the event to life.
“Victoria was so easy to work with and really got on board with the theme, pulling out all the stops to make sure it looked amazing.
“The kindness of all involved in the event, the fundraising and very generous auction and raffle prizes donated didn’t go unnoticed and while final figures are still being finalised, all donations have been greatly appreciated.”