Sky News presenter Kay Burley hosted Jewish Care’s fundraising dinner, which raised a record £5.25m, on Monday. Lord Levy, the charity’s president, paid tribute to outgoing chief executive Simon Morris
AN ELDERLY Jewish Care client moved guests at the charity’s annual campaign dinner to tears as he described how the charity supported him after he lost his wife.
Tony Fisher told the 1,000 guests at Monday’s event, which raised a record breaking £5.25 million, how his wife Amelia, who “was everything to me”, died and he grew lonely.
In a pre-recorded film, introduced by dinner host Kay Burley of Sky News, he said: “I’m 89 years old and I live on my own in Mile End. We grew up round here.
“It used to be such a big Jewish community. It was the happiest place to be and Amelia was the best part of it. We laughed together. We cried together.”
Mrs Fisher died following a short illness, Mr Fisher said. “They took her into hospital and that is where it all ended. The last words she said to me were ‘Tony’ and then that was it,” he told guests at Grosvenor House in Central London.
“When I came back home it felt empty. No one wanted to talk to an old man like me.”
Mr Fisher and his wife attended Jewish Care’s Brenner Centre at Stepney Community Centre before she died.
He said they became his second family following her death.
“They pick me up on the bus every day and take me to the centre in Stepney.
“They can’t come quick enough. I am around friends; I can chat and have a cup of tea. I have people I can spend festivals and Shabbat with and it makes me feel Jewish again. If it wasn’t for the club I wouldn’t know where to turn. I would be lost.”
He told the guests: “It can’t bring Amelia back, but when I am at the club I feel like she is still beside me.”
Other films described how the charity helps 10,000 people and needs £15m a year to continue operating.
One highlighted the progress of a new Jewish Care campus on the site of the Princess Alexandra home in Stanmore, which promised to “provide an outstanding range of accommodation for the south Hertfordshire community”. The project will cost £47m, with no government funding.
Around £7m has still to be raised.
It was the last fundraising dinner for Simon Morris, Jewish Care’s chief executive, who is standing down after 20 years at the charity.
In an interview with Ms Burley, Lord Levy, president of Jewish Care, said: “Simon is a wonderful guy who has done an amazing job for Jewish Care, taking the organisation to new heights, and making it recognised on a national level as a leading social care organisation.”
Another film, presented by writer Ivor Baddiel, showcased Jewish Care’s Sing Off, which has become one of the highlights in the charity’s calendar.
More than 180 residents, members, volunteers and staff from across nine Jewish Care services come together each year for a day of singing.
Mr Baddiel told guests: “You’ve seen X Factor, you’ve seen The Voice, and you’ve seen Eurovision, but trust me you haven’t seen anything yet.”
The comedy writer and author interviewed the choirs taking part in the Sing Off, which was judged by television presenter June Sarpong and LBC radio presenter Nick Ferrari.
Ms Sarpong said: “I’m going to kvell like I have never kvelled before.”
Mr Morris spoke at the close of the dinner.
He said: “Tonight has been an incredibly emotional night for me. I feel so proud to have led this organisation for the past 15 years and to have worked with such a dedicated and professional group of colleagues.
“It has been an honour and a privilege. Jewish Care will always have a big place in my heart and I look forward to seeing it flourish under the capable leadership of Daniel Carmel-Brown”.
Speaking after the event, Nicola Loftus, chair of the campaign dinner and Jewish Care trustee, explained why this year’s event was different.
“Our guests have become used to coming along to our annual dinners and hearing from big name speakers.
“This year we wanted to do something different, taking them on a journey through Jewish Care to show them why their support is so important.”
I’m going to kvell like I’ve never kvelled before’
After the appeal film was shown, the spotlight was on Tony, a client of Jewish Care’s Brenner Centre at Stepney