The venue before guests arrived.
Guests enjoyed arrival drinks whilst enjoying music from the award winning classical quarter Ensemble Nova Luce while magician Magic Rich left many amazed and puzzled with his up-close illusions. The drinks reception gave guests the chance to catch up with friends and to mingle with attendees representing a wide range of backgrounds and diaspora groups.
Once seated in the ballroom our MC for the evening, bard Sarah de Nordwall, shared a few words along with WONDER's own Olivia Darby, who spoke of the importance of vocational training and education to enable women to help themselves and their families break free from the cycle of poverty.
Award-winning ensemble Nova Luce.
Then dinner was served in three delicious courses with wines to match. Each table was named after a beneficiary of one of WONDER’s education projects with testimonies from students from DR Congo, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Peru, Guatemala, India and the UK taking centre stage. Lilian, a graduate of one of WONDER's partner schools, was even at the ball in person, and shared her story of how vocational hospitality training took her from a small farming village in Honduras to serving Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee. After receiving a scholarship to study at Los Sauces School of Hospitality in Tegucigalpa she learned the cooking and hospitality skills that would set her up for a successful career in the industry, which eventually led her to study in the UK and serve the Queen in 2012. Lilian now balances her work managing a large kitchen in London with teaching at a local college, and volunteering in Honduras to train the teachers of Los Sauces, where her own career began.
Inspired by Lilian’s story, guests were then ready to show their support WONDER's partner schools with a lively auction and raffle. Up for grabs was everything from a holiday in sunny Spain, to amazing Glacier Walk and Northern Lights experience in Iceland courtesy Icelandic Mountain Guides. Other auction items included a supper club experience for 2 with celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwalla at Café Spice, a Tiffany’s necklace, a nutrition and fitness package from Panoptic Performance, and a Black Tier Membership Card and account credit with Addison Lee.
The raffle also proved popular amongst guests, with prizes including a £100 voucher for IceBar London, a Fortnum & Mason hamper, an elegant Aiirkey handbag, a £50 voucher for artisan pasta from La Tua Pasta, and a hairdressing voucher for Millimetre Salon.
As the raffle and auction came to a close and the tables were cleared DJ Mark Hatfield stepped up to the decks to provide music and dancing until the small hours of the night. Drinks were flowing as guests got moving on the dancefloor and posed in our Winter Wonderland photobooth.
A great night was had by all, with highlights being the sumptuous food and wine, the inspirational testimonies of Wonder beneficiaries and the new friendships and connections made. We are looking forward to seeing you all again at next year’s Wonder Ball in October 2017!