Jewish Care’s 25th anniversary dinner has raised a record £5.1 million.
More than 1,500 supporters attended the event, held at Alexandra Palace, at which the Duke of Cambridge lavished praise on the charity’s ethos and achievements and Lionel Richie got guests on to the dancefloor with a performance of some of his greatest hits. In honour of the royal guest, Richie had performed one song before dinner, Hello, saying that Princess Diana had told him that it was her favourite.
The duke said: "I know that Jewish Care is viewed as a leader in the social care field and uses its knowledge, expertise and experience to engage in the debate on high quality care, especially in relation to dementia. Your Holocaust Survivors' Centre is a second home for many people who were liberated 70 years ago from those evil places."
During the reception, he spent 45 minutes chatting to Jewish Care service users, volunteers and staff.
Among those he met was former international boxing referee Sid Nathan, who said they spoke about the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fight. “He said: ‘If I had all evening, I’d talk to you about boxing.’” Mr Nathan, 92, had requested that he be accompanied by Jacey Harris, manager at Edgware and Harrow Jewish Day Centre, which he regularly attends. “I told him that this is the lady who takes care of me.”
Mr Nathan – who refereed more than 1,300 fights and boxers including Muhammad Ali and Frank Bruno – said his world had fallen apart after the death of Lillian, his childhood sweetheart and wife of 66 years. But his involvement in the day centre had given him “a new lease of life”. Without the friends he had made,” I’d be alone all day staring at four walls”.
The duke also met two members of the Hendon-based Holocaust Survivors’ Centre, Hedi Fisher and Freddie Knoller, as well Magellan Mukete, the centre’s handyman and caretaker. Mr Knoller said he had explained that for some 60 years, “I’ve been telling my story to young people as what happened should never be forgotten. I’m 94 now. He said: ’94, you don’t look it.’”
Originally from Cameroon, Mr Mukete told the duke “what the members did to leave their legacy - going to schools, giving talks and writing books. He was very interested to know more about Holocaust education.”
The survivors’ centre was “a lovely place to work, particularly once you know what the people went through. They call the centre a second home and it’s a home from home for me, too.”
Jean Lowi, who has volunteered for the charity and its precursors for 48 years, told the duke about her work at Redbridge Jewish Community Centre. “He was impressed by the length of my involvement and said he had heard so much about Jewish Care’s work.” Two teenage Redbridge leaders, Aimee Cohen and Joshua Carmel-Brown, were also introduced to the royal guest, as was 101-year-old Dolly Conway, who lived independently up to the age of 99 and is now a resident in the charity’s Rosetrees home in Friern Barnet. Her secret to longevity is “a sherry now and again – and I’ve always got Baileys.”
Ivor Baddiel met the duke on behalf his father, Colin, a member of the charity’s Leonard Sainer Centre in Edgware for people with dementia. Colin Baddiel has Picks disease, a form of dementia affecting the frontal lobe. “He gets a lot out of it,” his son said of the day centre. “Dementia is very cruel but very irregular. He’s still able to interact. They play chess and Scrabble with him, they stimulate him, they feed him. It gives him a social life he wouldn’t otherwise have.” Colin Baddiel’s story was also one element of the appeal film, in which his other sons, including comedian and author David Baddiel, also featured.