Bonnie Ledson and team – Fundraising Divas

This dynamic team has raised more than a million dollars over the years in support of the Bethell Hospice through their annual Diamond in the Hills fashion show, luncheon and auction.

November 23, 2023 | | Local Heroes

“Each of us has her own special talents. As a committee, we fit together nicely, manage to get all the jobs done and have a lot of fun along the way.”

This is Bonnie Ledson, discussing the women who organize the Diamond in the Hills fashion show, luncheon and auction held each fall in support of Bethell Hospice in Inglewood.

Bonnie, along with her sister Barbara Gough, Barbara Goodhand, Debbie Glover, Danila Maric, Judy Petursson and honorary member Marj Dennis, has spearheaded this event since 2017. This year, the cumulative funds the event has raised over the years topped a million dollars.

The Divas (left to right): Barbara Goodhand, Debbie Glover, Danila Maric, Bonnie Ledson, Judy Petursson, Barbara Gough.

“I remember attending lovely afternoon teas Lorna Bethell hosted for many years in her home, using her silver tea service and offering tiny sandwiches. This was my first introduction to her dream of creating a hospice in our community,” says Bonnie.

Bonnie’s long history of volunteer fundraising has earned her the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal and the Hazel McCallion Power of Giving Award, so when she attended a Bethell fundraiser in 2016, her kind offer to help was enthusiastically received. Very quickly she had her new committee in place, brimming with fresh ideas.

Since then, the number of women attending the event has increased annually (to over 430 this year), and it outgrew the capacity of local facilities. For the past three years, it has been held at Arlington Estate in Vaughan.
“Ramy Salall, Caledon resident and owner of the luxury event centre, has been wonderful to work with, and is a major sponsor of our event. We are blessed to know him, and to have the support of a number of local foundations and families as sponsors,” Bonnie says.

With bubbly and wine flowing, event guests renew old friendships and find new ones. There’s a live and silent auction, glitter bags, and a premium raffle. The main event is a dazzling fashion show, featuring 12 local models in sporty casual wear, business and cocktail attire, and formal evening dresses – 80 different outfits in all from the collection of Debbie Glover’s Studio 49 in Georgetown. At the same time, professional “auctionista” and self-described “philanthrotainer” Layne encourages guests to bid on exciting and unusual live auction items.

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  • One of the live auction items keenly anticipated by luncheon regulars, is the Firemen’s Dinner. It involves four Inglewood firefighters who arrive at the winner’s home with everything needed for an elegant dinner for 12. They look after all preparation, food and wine service, and cleanup. The two dinners offered this year raised a combined total of $22,000.

    Bonnie and her committee are understandably proud of what they have achieved in seven short years – even when Covid shut them down for a year in 2020, sponsors honoured their commitments, so all wasn’t lost. Even so, having achieved their million-dollar goal, and with all but one of their crew now in their 70s and 80s, they’re ready to hang up their spurs. However, never ones to leave loose ends, the committee has already recruited a new team of vibrant local women to take over in 2024.

    Although The Divas (as Bonnie refers to her team) knew each other before they teamed up for Bethell, the experience has forged an unbreakable bond of friendship. By the time you read this, they’ll be relaxing together on a well-earned vacation in the Arizona sunshine.

    About the Author More by Gail Grant

    Gail Grant is a freelance writer who lives in Palgrave.

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