Devoted Peterborough mum raises incredible £80,000 for son’s special school

Spencer and mum Liza (standing behind him) at Spencer's Diamond Ball in March at the Arena
Spencer and mum Liza (standing behind him) at Spencer's Diamond Ball in March at the Arena
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A devoted mother has helped raise a staggering £80,000 for her son’s special school and its “amazing staff”.

Liza Schwarz (48) has been putting on Spencer’s charity balls since 2011 - combining glamour, fine dining and roaring entertainment to support the ‘Outstanding’ rated Phoenix School throughout her son’s education there.

Spencer with his carers

Spencer with his carers

The balls have raised a superb £80,000, on top of another £20,000 from charity head shaves for other good causes, but hairdresser Liza from Orton Longueville has no plans to slow down as she turns her attention to fundraising for her 19-year-old son’s new care home, now that his schooling has come to an end.

Liza said: “We did the first ball in 2007 - it had about 80 people. The most we’ve had at any is about 300. We are a dab hand at it now.” Spencer has a rare genetic condition, meaning he is like a “19-year-old in a two-year-old’s body”. But that did not stop him from attending the final fundraising ball for the school, and being the star of the show.

Liza recalled: “He is funny and great fun to be around.

“He is non-verbal and needs everything doing for him, but he is very social.

Liza and Spencer with Nick Tkaczuk (former governor) and Trudy Duffield (headteacher) from the Phoenix School

Liza and Spencer with Nick Tkaczuk (former governor) and Trudy Duffield (headteacher) from the Phoenix School

“He came to the last ball and bombed it around the Showground! I had to run after him, but he loved it.”

Liza opened Spencer’s Hair Salon in 2006 and has been giving work placements to people with learning disabilities. She is part of a small committee of people who put on the charity balls, which feature three course meals, wine, music and entertainment, including a magician.

The next one is scheduled for April 13 at the Holiday Inn, with Uncle Funk & The Boogie Wonderband booked to perform. Money raised will now go to Home From Home Care and voluntary organisation Circles Network.

But, despite seeing her son leave the Phoenix School, Liza has nothing but positive words for the education and support he received there.

“The school has been absolutely amazing for Spencer. I’m a single parent and he can’t have a normal childminder come in,” she said.

“The school does after- school class and holidays. The staff are truly amazing. They are very skilled and kind.”

Spencer may now have left his school in Orton Goldhay, but Liza is determined to carry on with her charity balls.

She added: “We are going to keep going. It gives me something to do as I’m not caring for Spencer at the moment. There’s a gaping hole, but all I can ask for is Spencer to be happy, and he is.

“For the charity balls we do not really have to push sales now - people come to us and want tables. When we did the first one we did not think about the commitment, did not think of the negative side, like if you do not sell tickets.

“All the support has been really good from everybody, including my clients.”