Last Friday was the evening of our Annual Gala, where we celebrated our successes in an evening of lively conversation and dancing!
The event was held at the beautiful Highbury Hall again, and we had a nice mix of people. It was great to see staff, commissioners, board members, representatives from partner organisations and, of course, clients – the people that we work with – mingling and having lots of interesting conversations.
This year we decided to make things a bit less formal, so we settled on fewer speeches, and expecting the audience to sit and be talked at. We wanted the focus this year to be on the people we’ve worked with, so we decided to give the floor over to them.
So over the last few weeks we’ve been asking staff to speak to their clients and former clients to see if anyone would like to come and talk to the guests about their experiences of using our services.
We were very pleasantly surprised when six people agreed to come along and tell us about their journey with Gateway. But we were even more surprised when, on the night, people who hadn’t planned to speak heard the others, and asked if they could tell us about their experiences too!
So I’m delighted to say that we heard a number of fabulous stories, from our clients and former clients, throughout the night – all of whom have made brilliant progress over the last year.
Maureen and Susan, who’ve lost seven stone between them, talked about the knock-on effect that their healthier eating has had on their families, who have also lost weight.
Lesley, who featured on our blog back in June, now goes swimming every day and her new-found confidence has led her to set up her own swimming group.
Graham is a befriender who explained how he feels he gets as much out of the relationship with the person he befriends as they do.
And Bella talked about how she feels much more able to tackle being a single parent, thanks to all the parenting advice she’s received via her POW.
We hope to be able to show you some more of these stories on this blog over the next few weeks.
We also held our annual award ceremony during the evening. Staff from all departments nominated the clients they felt had made particular progress to receive Achievement Awards.
All of our Volunteers received awards; many had achieved additional qualifications with us, whilst for others we were recognising the contribution they’d given in terms of their time.
Thanks again to all the guests who made the time to come and celebrate with us. We look forward to working with many more people this year – perhaps we’ll see you at next year’s Gala!
(And if you’d like to see more photos from Friday night, why not have a look on our Facebook page?)