Kisharon raised more than £1million at the Brighter Futures Annual Dinner attended by more than 600 guests at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel. The dinner was hosted by Emma and Adam Castleton, whose son, Elias, is a pupil at Kisharon School.
Guests heard two remarkable speakers. First was Karen Gaffney, president of an organisation that champions inclusion for people with developmental disabilities in families, schools, the workplace and the community. Karen, who herself has Down’s Syndrome, recalled the challenges she faced and the crucial importance of Kisharon’s role in creating opportunities for people with learning disabilities.
She said: “Many of us with intellectual disabilities have talents and skills that are too often overlooked or are hidden away because there is no opportunity to develop them. The team at Kisharon is working very hard to change all that. They are working hard to build brighter futures for people like me, giving us the opportunities to weave into the fabric of life around us. The dedicated team at Kisharon all share a common vision of hope for a full and inclusive life for people who were born with something extra.”
Actress and comedian Sally Phillips, best known for her roles in Bridget Jones and Miranda and presenter of the acclaimed documentary A World without Down’s Syndrome reflected on her own experiences as the mother of a child with Down’s Syndrome. Sally spoke in glowing terms of her positive experience with the Jewish community, having been isolated by her own.
She said: “Knowing other people with learning disabilities is the only lasting way of countering discrimination. You already know this. You’re famous for knowing each other – warts and all – and for being there for each other regardless. You carry each other’s burdens in a truly admirable way. Look at you – 600 of you – all here tonight to raise money, to give each other an equal chance. When you’re truly in a community – it’s not ‘children with Down’s Syndrome’ – it’s Ruby, Jonathan, Ariel, Robert. Enabling my own son, Olly, and people like him to be an equal player in our generally unwelcoming and very un-Jewish society is quite an undertaking. Please continue to model to the rest of us how to do it, and support Kisharon’s outstanding, admirable and very important work.”
People with learning disabilities who Kisharon supports were integral in every aspect of the evening: Eli Cohen made hamotzi, Chaim Dovid Rotenberg lead the benching and Debbie Rosten made the appeal speech.
Kisharon’s upbeat appeal video I’m Good reflected the atmosphere of the evening. Californian rock band The Mowgli’s and backing musicians gave permission for Kisharon to use its hit song as the soundtrack to the video, which was filmed across all of Kisharon’s services.
The £1,041,000 from the dinner will go towards the £2.1million Kisharon needs to raise each year.
Richard Franklin, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications said: “Last night’s record-making Kisharon dinner surpassed all our expectations. This is principally due to the magnificent support received from an incredible committee, committed table hosts and most importantly, the chairman, chief executive and board in this truly wonderful organisation dedicated to people with learning disabilities.”
PHOTOS: JOHN RIFKIN<< Back