Sporting Inspirations Dinner 2011: an evening with cricket legends!

“Still buzzing from a great night thank you @scope everybody should look at what you are achieving and help as much as they can.” Simon Barton on Twitter

Thanks to all the very generous people who attended Sporting Inspirations Dinner at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square and who have raised over £100,000 for our work.

The record-breaking fundraising event was hosted by Scope Patron Alastair Stewart OBE, ITN’s news anchor. He introduced Scope Chair Alice Maynard who explained how the money raised would support our Face 2 Face parent befriending schemes that support 4,000 families of disabled children every year.

£500, she told us, can support one new family to be supported by networks of other parents who have been through similar experiences themselves.

Sarah Kiley was one such mother. Four years ago Sarah discovered that her son Philip had Down syndrome. She found it hard to cope. Friends were awkward and distant. She felt that she couldn’t return to work either physically or emotionally, and her self-esteem suffered as a result. Luckily for her, she found Scope’s Face 2 Face scheme, a network of parents with disabled children who support each other through their common experiences.

She says: “The guilt was replaced by hope. Face 2 Face was a special, very safe place where I could talk.” The experience enabled her “to wear that many hats that the parent of a disabled child must wear: physio, speech therapist, playmate and educator”. By attending courses on speech therapy and signing, Sarah developed the tools she needed to help her son, and Philip started mainstream school in September, something Sarah believes would not have happened without the support of Face 2 Face.

Now Sarah has become a befriender herself and she is passing on what she has learned to two new parents, one of whom, after two years, is about to become a parent befriender herself. This is the virtuous circle that parent befriending creates – £500 can continue to have an effect on future families, too.

Sarah closed by saying that her son Philip wants a cow for Christmas this year, and the Sporting Inspirations Dinner’s special guest, England cricket vice-captain Alastair Cook MBE, who lives on a farm, said he would be happy to oblige!

Despite having a net with England batting coach Graham Gooch at 8 a.m. in Finchley following the dinner, Alastair very graciously agreed to stay out late to be the guest of honour of Jonathan Agnew, BBC’s cricket correspondent and the senior member of the award-winning Test Match Special team, who braved the last train home and provided a running commentary on his Twitter feed.

They discussed Cook’s record-breaking 36 hours of batting in Australia, England’s South African middle order, Geoffrey Boycott, the Mitchell Johnson song, the One-Day Internationals in India… (that’s enough, Ed.)

Former England Test captain Chris Cowdrey had a fine innings as auctioneer, raising nearly £20,000 from eight lots, which included a tour of the ITN studios, a large scale replica of Jenson Button’s Formula One car and a one-week stay in a luxury villa in Barbados!

The silent auction had many fantastic items, including MCC cricket coaching for your school, afternoon tea with Cherie Blair at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, a signed photo of the Downton Abbey cast and several amazing holidays and short breaks. It raised just over £20,000 to bring the total for the event to over £100,000 – that’s enough to support 200 families like Sarah’s, a truly life-changing amount.

For further information or to book your tables or tickets for future events, please contact Sue Dorrington, Special Events, Scope on 020 7619 7271 or email her.

Many thanks to Isabel Hudson, the chair of Scope’s Business Development Board and the Sporting Inspirations Event Committee, who helped to organize this fantastic event on her birthday!