Prominent Southport businessman Norman Wallis has stepped in at the last-minute to ensure a campaign group's highlight fundraiser is able to go ahead.
Tragic Ben Smith-Crallan, aged 37, developed Necrotising Fasciitis when he cut his leg as he fell into the water of Churchtown’s Botanic Gardens’ Lake in June of 2018. Ben quickly succumbed to the condition, also known as ‘the flesh-eating disease,’ and he later died from the condition despite having the affected leg amputated.
Since then, family and friends have been campaigning to get the lake cleaned up – or at least fenced-off - to ensure no one else meets the same fate. Support for the campaign, spear-headed by Ben’s best friend David Rawsthorne, and father, Peter, continues to grow.
The ‘Make A Change for Ben’ fundraising dinner is the latest in a series of initiatives to advance a clean-up operation at the park as part of the campaign. However, when Southport Pleasureland CEO Norman Wallis [pictured] caught wind that the event - the organisation’s biggest fundraiser of the year - was still without a headline sponsor with less than four weeks to go, he quickly agreed to help.
The ‘Make A Change for Ben’ Sportsman’s Dinner sponsored by Southport Pleasureland will be held at the town’s Bliss Hotel on October 28, where guests will hear sports pundit and former international footballer John Barnes speak.
Norman Wallis said: “Where we can help people, we should. Ben was only bending down to the water to fill a water pistol for a little girl while out enjoying the park. What should have been a happy day ended in the worst of circumstances.
“We must ensure the safety of our community whilst preserving the beautiful area in which we are privileged to live. It is our responsibility to make sure amenities are looked after properly so that they’re there for future generations. Planning and building for our children and grandchildren should be about conceiving ideas that move us forward, rather than offer a nod to the past, and are relevant for the way future generations will live. Whatever we do with our town, we must build responsibly, and look after people.
“Southport Pleasureland is proud to step up as headline sponsor and wish this important fundraiser every success.”
Ben’s father and best friend have been joined in the campaigning by Ben’s cousin Lucy Smith-Crallan, who is organising the dinner, and others who have been moved by Ben’s story. The story of Ben’s tragic death and the campaign by family and friends attracted national headlines earlier this year.