An evening of 1950s-themed fun has resulted in a $33,000 top-up for Women's Refuge Whanganui's funds.

The Cocktail Lounge fundraising event, held on Saturday, November 4, was styled around the jetset crowd of the 1950s with cocktails, retro-themed canapes and music in a lounge setting at Heritage House. There was also a live auction of 11 donated items, which raised more than $16,000, and a whisky bar. The aim was to raise $30,000 from the event.

Women's Refuge Whanganui chairwoman Paula Wade said organisers were grateful for the "incredible support" of volunteers and sponsors and delighted with the $33,000 raised.

"We really appreciate the assistance of the volunteers who gave up their Saturday night to help hand around the drinks and food.


"We even had two volunteers who flew down from Auckland to help. Brock Ruscoe served whisky in the whisky bar and Saskia Ruscoe served food and drinks.

"Many local businesspeople either gave their time for free or gave generous discounts on the goods and services they provided. Local businesses and individuals gave cash donations which was incredibly generous."

Ms Wade said the organisation desperately needed adequate premises to operate from and some of the funds raised would go toward the refuge's hub project.

"Our service is characterised by our 24/7 crisis/support line, our safe housing, the ability to transfer clients out of the area if the risk and safety issue requires this, and our professional approach to advocacy for the clients accessing our service.

Kym Fell and Laureen Tunnell won the prizes for the best 1950s looks. Photo / Mark Brimblecombe
Kym Fell and Laureen Tunnell won the prizes for the best 1950s looks. Photo / Mark Brimblecombe

"Women's Refuge Whanganui is one of three linchpin agencies in the frontline team, along with the police and Oranga Tamariki. Our staff are at the table weekly with these agencies to discuss the latest police incident reports on family and domestic violence, and to strategise the best way forward for those affected by abuse.

"We are in constant contact with both government and community agencies in a concerted effort to highlight the needs of the clients we serve. We provide education in the community on the effects the violent abuse has on the victims by the person they love and trust.

"So what does all this mean in financial terms? It's grim. In the last 12 months we have had 2225 cases - we are funded for 49. We rely so heavily on applications for grants and our fundraising efforts."