On the 12th October, almost three hundred people joined ELoH and comedy pianist Alex Ainley for a fantastic evening of classical piano music interspersed with hilarious stand-up routines that had everyone laughing in their seats.
BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine opened the evening with a rousing speech, explaining that his experience as a BBC Africa correspondent had brought him into contact with many child amputees, particularly in Sierra Leone, giving him first-hand knowledge of the importance of our work. He said he was delighted to have been asked to open the concert, and he read out a letter of support from Simon Eccles, Pollyanna’s surgeon and one of ELoH’s Patrons, who couldn’t be there but wanted the audience to know the deep impact his involvement with Pollyanna, and the Hope family, has had on him.
Our wonderful guests donated generously, and participated in our raffle and silent auction. The lucky winners took away prizes ranging from Tea in the House of Commons to theatre tickets and a bottle of Whiskey signed by Prime Minister David Cameron.
In the end, we raised an incredible £6,200 – three times as much as last year – which will go towards our current project in Sierra Leone, where we are supporting 100 vulnerable amputee children until they reach adulthood.
Our project aims to provide both medical support, such as covering the costs for prosthetic devices and much needed surgeries, and to address the wider circumstances faced by amputee children by providing educational support, counselling and business support to families so as to enable them to pay school fees in the longer run.
In just 15 months we have already seen huge progress: 97 of the 100 children are enrolled in school, 34 have received prostheses and are being trained in how to use them and 48 are currently being fitted or receiving surgery in advance of their prostheses. Also, all beneficiaries’ families are receiving business support and the pride and excitement associated with going to school and being able to walk again, just like any other child, shines through in every child. Hanna’s story is just one of many.
The money we have raised in Barnes will go towards building on the fantastic progress that has been made over the last 15 months. Besides continuing to support our initial beneficiaries, we are extending our support to another 50 vulnerable amputees in 2014. The costs for providing one child with a new prosthetic, an education for a year, and business support for their family costs £500 a year, which means that in a single evening, we have raised enough money to support 12 children for 2014.
This truly incredible achievement would never have been possible without the generous donations and support of everyone who attended, without all of those who organised and promoted the event, those who helped out on the evening – behind the bar, as ushers on doors, as raffle ticket sellers – and without the wonderful Alex Ainley who gave his time and talent to help us help amputee children.