Last Saturday night's Foundation Ball at the London Hilton on Park Lane proved an extraordinary success with £375,000 raised on the night - defying the credit crunch and smashing previous Foundation Ball totals.
The evening, generously sponsored by Andreas Panayiotou and the Ability Group, included a champagne reception, four-course gourmet dinner and first-class entertainment from West-end stars the Jersey Boys and the children of the Sylvia Young Theatre School.
Over 750 guests were present to see ‘King of the Jungle' Christopher Biggins run the charity auction and raffle for an array of exciting prizes. A Volkswagen Fox car was won in a game of ‘Heads and Tails' before the soufflé starter had arrived and a week's holiday in Los Angeles to see Celine Dion perform raised £10,000.
The Ball's popularity is proving resistant to the economic climate and set a new record for money raised. Last year's Ball made £226,574 in support of the Hilton in the Community Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Every year the Foundation nominates a children's charity to receive 50% of the net funds raised on the night. The remaining 50% is all distributed to other charities supported through a grant giving programme that focuses on those young people who are most in need. This year, the Lords Taverners' Disability Sports Appeal, looking to raise a million pounds leading up to the London 2012 Olympics, was the Ball's primary beneficiary. The grant will be used to purchase specially adapted wheelchairs to enable children to participate in wheelchair basketball, tennis and boccia. On the night an extraordinary 67 pledges of £1000 were also given to sponsor individual wheelchairs.
Dame Maureen Thomas, Hilton in the Community Foundation Trustee and Chair of the Ball Committee, said:
"This is always an important night in the Hilton in the Community Foundation calendar and this year has seen our most successful Ball ever. We are thrilled to have raised a record amount as in current financial climate it is more important than ever for us to support children's charities in need of help. We were also delighted to have the Taverners Disability Sports Appeal as this year's principal beneficiary; having enjoyed watching this year's paralympians in Beijing I hope that this fundraising will help to equip the next generation of athletes with the tools for success!"
Judith Chalmers OBE, Lady Taverners President Emeritus said:
"This was a fantastic evening and it was absolutely terrific to see so much good will and generosity on the night. To have raised such a spectacular sum of money is wonderful and I'd like to thank everyone for their support on behalf of The Lord's Taverners Disability Sports Appeal. This money raised for the junior wheelchair sports programmes we have put in place and for the provision of sports wheelchairs will really make a great difference to so many young people's lives, and will enable children with disabilities to enjoy all the benefits which sport has to offer ."
About the Hilton in the Community Foundation
The Hilton in the Community Foundation was founded in 2000 as Hilton Hotels' charity dedicated to supporting young people in the communities that Hilton Hotels serve in the UK and Ireland and, in the case of disaster relief, worldwide. Focused on Education and Health, grants supporting disadvantaged young people are made in the UK and Ireland, while in the event of international disaster; grants are made to relief organisations at the Trustees' discretion.
The Foundation's core costs are funded by Hilton Hotels, so every net pound raised goes directly to good causes. Donations are funded almost entirely through the generous efforts and contributions of Hilton team members, family and friends and with the support of Hilton guests and company suppliers.