MORE than 300 people attended the Rugby Legends Gala at the beginning of March in support of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation for Disabled People (QEF), a charity that supports almost 10,000 disabled children and adults every year with physical or learning disabilities or acquired brain injuries.
Hosted by BBC presenter, Chris Hollins, the evening raised more than £100,000 in support of QEF’s £2.7m Edward Guinness Appeal to fully fund and complete the charity’s state-of-the-art Care and Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey. The Centre provides life-changing neuro-rehabilitation for hundreds of people every year, supporting people to rebuild their lives after an acquired brain injury, stroke, incomplete spinal injury or other neurological condition.
Guests included Jack Guinness, Nicholas Witchell and Michael Buerk along with rugby legends from across the UK and abroad; England legends included Ollie Phillips, Tamara Taylor, Lee Mears and Abi Burton, Welsh legend Ryan Jones MBE, Scottish legend, Rory Lawson, Irish legends, Rob Henderson and Ciara Cooney and South African legends, Cobus Visagi and Francois Louw and Australian legend Alistair Murdoch.
The event, which was held at Grosvenor House Hotel in London, included a champagne reception followed by dinner, auctions, live entertainment and dancing.
The event was energized by a wonderful performance by singer and songwriter, Tony Lorenzo who performed alongside World, British Open and National Ballroom Champion dancers Michael and Nika.
David, 49 from Kingston, spoke about the support he received from QEF after he acquired a sepsis type infection that caused a massive stroke. Prior to this, he had an active life with his wife and two teenage children. He shared his experience through a video shown on the evening.
“The therapies that I have received at QEF over the last year have been amazing. When I arrived, I was unable to sit unsupported in a wheelchair and very quickly became fatigued. The physios have helped me become more stable and I can now stand unsupported for short periods of time, as at first standing was terrifying as I had lost my spacial awareness. The progress I am making is truly amazing; last year I needed to dictate what I wanted to say in my wife’s birthday card but this year I was able to write my message using my left, non-dominant hand. I honestly can’t thank them enough.”
CEO Karen Deacon said:
“Our Care and Rehabilitation Centre is a beautiful building where expert teams empower and enable people to rebuild their lives; providing hope for the future after a brain injury or a stroke, an incomplete spinal injury or other neurological conditions. The Edward Guinness Appeal was launched to raise the remaining £2.7million needed to complete and fully fund the Care and Rehabilitation Centre and I would like to thank everyone involved for their generous support of our work especially our wonderful sponsors LOM architects and design.”
The evening was capped off by a live auction of spectacular items including: A luxury 5-night stay at a 2-bedroom villa at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, four tickets to the Autumn Internationals at Twickenham, an exclusive visit to one of the premier classic, super and hyper car collections in the country. Guests also had the opportunity to crack the six digit code of a Banham Safe Security safe to win a beautiful diamond and pearl necklace from Susannah Lovis Jewellers.