There was a sporting theme to the first Manchester fundraising dinner for special needs charity Langdon, which raised £250,000.
British Paralympic swimming gold medallist Heather Frederiksen received a standing ovation from the 500 guests at Lancashire County Cricket Club as she praised the locally-founded organisation’s work in providing independent living, education and employment support for more than 100 young Jews in Manchester, London and Herts.
TV presenter Eamonn Holmes, who hosted Sunday’s dinner, described the charity’s work as “a revelation”, adding: “Langdon is a model for other communities to copy and for government to copy.”
The money raised would “change attitudes and lives” and Mr Holmes helped to contribute £6,000 to the total with an impromptu auction of VIP access to ITV’s This Morning programme.
Other speakers were Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein and Labour MP Ivan Lewis, who said that “everyone who has special needs has a label. But they also have their own dreams, emotions and potential. Supporting Langdon means making a difference to the most vulnerable people in our community.”
A dozen Langdon students and residents made warmly received contributions to the programme, including musical performances and comedy. Scott Bryant introduced an appeal video he had helped to produce. An emotive appearance by Abbe Rose Kubel, who found cake-decorating employment through Langdon, resulted in hundreds of pounds being bid for a novelty cake she had baked.
A further £5,000 was raised at auction for a dinner with Barclays Wealth adviser Sir Michael Peat, the former principal private secretary to the Prince of Wales.
Dinner chair Janice Livingstone was “overwhelmed by the positive response. This will mean that many more of Langdon’s people will be able to experience first-class training so that we can get as many people into the workplace as possible.”
Proceeds will go towards Langdon’s enterprise centre project in Manchester, which will offer one-to-one mentoring and other business training. Money will also be used to refurbish residents’ homes.