GEA Art Ball Organiser Howard Ratcliffe on life-changing music

Ahead of The Good Estate Agency Charity Art Ball, which has raised over £30,000 for our life-changing work over the past three years, we caught up with the event’s founder and organiser, Howard Ratcliffe, to find out what part of the evening he’s most looking forward to, why the event is so important and what music means to him. Here’s Howard in his own words:

What does music mean to you?

Music means a lot to me, as it does to so many people. Whether it’s listening to music whilst getting ready in the mornings, in the car to and from work, attending a live gig, re-living a memory or just relaxing on an evening, music is with me daily and I couldn’t do without it! But seeing my two boys, Harry 6 & Jack 4, listening, singing and dancing to Michael Jackson & George Ezra – their two favourite singers, and getting so much joy from this probably means the most to me of all. 

How has music changed your life?

Music has changed my life through so many fantastic experiences. Memorable live concerts from Pink Floyd at Earls Court in 1994, Luther Vandross at Manchester GMex in 1995 through to The Gipsy Kings at The Royal Albert Hall last year and most recently Guns N’ Roses at Download Festival this year – as you can see I have a wide appreciation of music! Over the last 4 years I’ve learnt more about Nordoff Robbins and seen the wonderful work their music therapists carry out helping to change people’s lives. Through raising funds and awareness for the charity, music has changed my life once again. 

Name a song that has significance to you. 

It would have to be my all time favourite song, November Rain by Guns N’ Roses. I must have listened to this song a thousand times, it reminds me of my younger days as a teenager, mesmerised by the epic music video, having long hair (yes, I was once guilty!), ripped jeans & leather jackets and good times with my friends. I think I secretly wanted to be Axl Rose! He’s still got it, by the way. He was amazing this year headlining at Donnington!

Tell us why you think The GEA Ball is such an important event.

The GEA Ball is now the biggest, privately organised fund raising event for Nordoff Robbins outside of London. We have raised over £30,000 for the charity over the last 3 years, doubling the amount raised year on year from the first event we held back in 2015…no pressure this year! It will obviously be very difficult to continue to double the amount raised year on year, however it would be absolutely amazing to match the £20,000 we raised last year. Fingers crossed – we will certainly be doing our very best to do so!

Why is it important to support Nordoff Robbins’ music therapy through this event?

By attending, sponsoring or participating in this event, you are doing your bit to help raise funds for this wonderful, music therapy charity. All our guests & sponsors play such a vital part and without their support, the event could not happen, but special mention has to go to all the artists who donate a painting to the charity auction on the night. They have collectively put in hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours creating such stunning pieces of work and to so kindly donate their paintings to raise money for Nordoff Robbins is simply amazing – thank you from the bottom of my heart to every artist who has donated a painting to this year’s, and previous years’ events. 

What part of The GEA Ball are you most looking forward to?

I thoroughly enjoy the whole evening. From the stunning Aston Martin cars on display by Aston Martin Wilmslow on arrival, the Raymond Weil pop up display of beautiful Swiss watches, the 50-piece Greater Manchester Rock Choir, the stunning exhibition of approximately 100 paintings by some of the North’s leading artists, singer Alexander Stewart and 8-piece band Beat Syndicate with lead singer Sally Dawson, our two brilliant hosts BBC Radio 6 Music Presenter Chris Hawkins & Manchester’s very own Nik Maguire, the charity auction and raffle, the DJ set by Manchester music legend Clint Boon, photo booth, a superb 3 course meal in the sumptuous surroundings of the 5-star The Lowry Hotel and all in such great company, what is there not to enjoy? It is going to be another memorable night!

The GEA Art Ball is an annual event that raises vital funds for Nordoff Robbins’ life-changing music therapy. Held this year on 16 November at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester, the ball features an exhibition of the region’s biggest named artists, with entertainment from Manchester’s very own Alexander Stewart and striking eight-piece band Beat Syndicate, the world’s largest contemporary choir, Rock Choir, and DJ set by XS Manchester’s Clint Boon.

Find out more about the GEA Art Ball here.