"Midnight in Mayfair" was the theme for this year's Ascot Ball benefiting the English-Speaking Union (ESU) at the Casino on June 22. The night was a celebration of the service of honoree Robert Chatterton Dickson, British consul general to Chicago, who will be leaving his post this summer and heading to Afghanistan as deputy ambassador.
"There is an amazing network of friends of Britain here in Chicago. I expect it will be slightly different in Kabal," Dickson said with a laugh.
Society bandleader Stanley Paul and his Mayfair Orchestra performed as 150 guests prepared to dine in the grand ballroom, which was exquisitely decorated in art deco shades of black and white by Virginia Wolff Inc. Dressed in 1930s period costumes, dancers from Thodos Dance Chicago twirled around the dance floor as guests found their seats.
Courtney Pitt, English-Speaking Union branch president, welcomed guests and introduced co-chairs Cheri Lawrence and Kim Gleeson. Doe Thornburg, a Member of the Order of the British Empire, toasted Queen Elizabeth, and British Consul General Dickson offered a toast to President Barack Obama.
Bagpiper Luke Cunningham played as tuxedoed servers presented the baked Alaska dessert course. Guests cheered at the announcement of a Chicago Blackhawks' victory as ESU board member James Kinney conducted a live auction. President's Council board member Brian White, who has been attending the Ascot Ball for about 20 years, said, "Once you see what it's about, you are there for life. I love that it raises money to support our Shakespeare competition and scholarship programs for kids." Approximately $200,000 was raised to support ESU's grants and scholarship initiatives for the Chicago chapter, which helps children to develop their speaking skills as well as an appreciation of literature.
Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers
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