There was no shortage of celebrity content at the gala dinner of special-needs educational charity Kisharon as impressionist Jon Culshaw entertained the 750 turnout with impersonations of Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, Tony Blair and Arsene Wenger, to name but four. Another special guest was Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who regaled guests with tales of Antarctic exploration.
Opening proceedings at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, dinner co-chair Daniel Green said the evening’s theme, “Making the impossible possible”, was something the charity endeavoured to achieve. He had been “blown away” by recent visits to the Tuffkid nursery and Kisharon Day School — and meeting adult service users.
Kisharon chair Philip Goldberg highlighted employment opportunity programmes such as a bicycle maintenance course run in partnership with Halfords. “Even in this difficult economic climate, we have secured jobs for 46 individuals with learning difficulties.” The Kisharon helpline, launched at last year’s dinner, was being expanded in conjunction with other charities.
An emotive appeal film featured Edgware couple Sharon and Joel Silberstein, whose three-year-old daughter Anaelle attends Tuffkid. Born with brain damage and cerebral palsy, she is non-verbal and confined to a wheelchair. “It’s a terrible thing because you don’t want a child to live like that,” Mrs Silberstein said. “We have to make the life she has as pleasant as possible and that’s where Kisharon is amazing.”
The dinner raised a record £756,000 — more than 50 per cent up on last year — towards the work of the Kisharon, which needs to attract at least £1.5 million of voluntary income. Like other charities, it is feeling the impact of local authority cutbacks.
Having toured the charity’s premises, Jon Culshaw was pleased to be part of “an inspirational night”.