2010 West Country Charities Evening

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Prior Park College is a remarkable school campus in a remarkable location: its central building is an imposing eighteenth-century mansion with the perfect view over Bath.  We could only see the lights of the city below on this damp November evening, but the warmth of the atmosphere within more than compensated.  The school has an excellent relationship with the Foundation through its membership of the Leadership Awards Scheme and it was a characteristically generous gesture to offer to host the first West Country Charities Evening.

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Ten inspirational charities with connections to the Foundation were on hand to discuss their work and their wishes with the Fellows and guests who attended.  Youth was well represented by Youth Action Wiltshire (with a brilliant group of young helpers) and D:Coded from Weston-Super-Mare, while young people's needs are also addressed by Children's Hospice South West, The Hop Skip and Jump Foundation and Hope Support Services.  Young adults on the margins of society are supported by the Amber Foundation and the Bristol Hub aims to connect university students with the voluntary sector.  Barton Hill Settlement and The People and Work Unit do outstanding community work in Bristol and South Wales respectively, while SOFA Project  is a brilliant example of social enterprise.

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The Headmaster of Prior Park, James Murphy O'Connor, welcomed everyone to the Charities Evening.  He was followed by Jason Chaffer, Chairman of the Fellowship, who highlighted the Fellowship's growing regional momentum, the remarkable distances travelled by many of those attending and the superb welcome offered by Prior Park.  In a wonderfully-chosen few words on behalf of the charities, Alexa Garner from Children's Hospice South West drew on her own background as a Prior Park pupil and a Rank Fellow: she related how attending a Charities Evening had inspired her to take up a career in charity work.

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Over seventy-five Fellows and guests created a terrific buzz as they talked with the charities and with each other.  The Headmaster of Gordonstoun claimed the blue riband for having travelled furthest to attend, although he was run close by Duncan Darroch-Thompson (from Edinburgh), Nathan Morris and Immy Schofield (from Sedbergh), Emily Deason (from Lancaster), Adeyinka Banjo (from Essex) and Marco Boodramsingh (from Sussex).  Not to be outdone, Larry Parsons, founder of the Leadership Award Scheme, had travelled up from the New Forest: it was great to see him there in such good health and good form.

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This was a really enjoyable and fruitful evening: as one guest put it, "we came away uplifted and inspired by all we met".

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