Innovative prisoner rehabilitation initiative The Clink Charity held its annual fundraising extravaganza – The Clink Charity Ball 2017 – on Friday 20 December, at the Lancaster London on Hyde Park.
The evening raised a staggering £30,000 through ticket sales, a table raffle and a star raffle, with a brand new Hyundai i10s up for grabs courtesy of Clink Ball gold sponsors Nayati. All money raised will go towards the development of exciting new training projects, due to be announced later this year, as part of the charity’s mission to reduce reoffending through the provision of accredited City & Guilds NVQ training and work-based hospitality experience.
Keeping with this mission and the charity’s ethos of developing long term careers in the hospitality sector, students from Lambeth College, Westminster Kingsway College and London South East Colleges took to the kitchens and the event floor, alongside graduates of The Clink training programme, apprentices from Lancaster London and young people from the Centrepoint scheme, to deliver a mouth-watering menu created by Ben Purton, Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage at the Lancaster London.
Setting the scene for the evening, 350 guests were welcomed with a Champagne reception and a selection of canapés created and served by Clink Events – the charity’s event catering function offering Clink graduates and homeless young people the opportunity to gain experience in event service and a Level 1 NVQ in Hospitality.
Industry guests in attendance included Clink Chef Ambassadors Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL, Daniel Galmiche, Daniel Ayton and Adam Simmonds, with Clink Restaurant Ambassadors Vic Laws MBE, Silvano Giraldin, Andrew Etherington, John Retallick and Jules Heckman-Hughes also making an appearance.
Chris Moore, Chief Executive of The Clink Charity, Vic Laws, Clink Ball Committee Chair, and Alberto Crisci MBE, Director of Clink Events, provided guests with an overview of the charity’s work before the room was introduced to Clink graduate Andrew as he delivered an awe-inspiring speech. Andrew shared the life-changing journey he has been on thanks to the support of The Clink Charity and spoke about how the hospitality training programme has enabled him to secure a chef position at a well-known global company in London, breaking the cycle of crime and transforming his life.
Speaking on the night, Andrew commented: “We used to be in the business of making people unhappy. Now, thanks to The Clink Charity, we’re very much in the business of making people happy. Working under the guidance of my mentor and in an environment of positivity and hope, The Clink has provided me with a second chance at life, transforming the lives of not just myself, but also my friends, family and society as a whole, and for that I will be forever grateful.”
Guests showed their appreciation with Santé du Chef, led by Clink Chef Ambassador Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL, as the room recognised the full power and potential of The Clink’s training programme with a standing ovation. Dinner came to a close with General Manager of Lancaster London Sally Beck drawing the winner of the highly-anticipated car raffle before guests took to the dancefloor for performances from The Executives and Centrepoint student and soul singer Brookemorgan Henry-Rennie.
Speaking of the event’s success, Chris Moore, Chief Executive of The Clink Charity, said: “Following in the footsteps of last year’s inaugural Clink Ball, we’re delighted to see that so many supporters and industry names have returned for a second year or chosen to support the ball for the first time. The amount that we have been able to raise through the generosity of our guests takes us one step closer towards achieving our ambitious plans that will see more than 1,000 highly trained hospitality professionals released from prison each year, a critical move in helping to fill the severe skills gap the industry is currently facing.
“It is the incredible support of our partners, sponsors and guests that makes this event possible and enables us to address the issue of reoffending even further. I’d like to say thank you to all our generous sponsors, staffing partners and charity friends who kindly donated raffle prizes. Finally, I’d also like to extend my thanks to those who bought tickets and chose to widen their support of The Clink Charity beyond our restaurants by joining us for what was a very special occasion.”