Accepting a volunteering award at a British Friends of Shalva dinner in central London, Gilad Shalit likened his time in captivity to the "challenges that Shalva families face on a daily basis".
Shalva supports Israelis of any denomination whose children have a mental or physical disability and the 250 guests were given a flavour of its work. Renowned violinist Maxim Vengerov provided the musical entertainment and the dinner raised £300,000. Shalva's Juliet Summerfield said afterwards that although the charity was well-known in Israel, "here, no one has really heard of it. But we're slowly spreading the word and have had an amazing response as a result of the dinner."
Shalva currently works with 550 families, some of them Muslim or Christian, and is hoping to expand its outreach, thanks to a new national centre being built on land donated by the Jerusalem municipality.