The UK and India’s leading social glitterati, dignitaries, charity ambassadors and veteran stars of Indian cinema, Waheeda Rehman, Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi, gathered on Saturday 2nd of March 2013 at Vinopolis in London to celebrate The Sparkle Ball – a glittering night of haute couture fashion to raise vital funds for The Akshaya Patra Foundation UK, the world’s largest NGO-run school meal programme, which feeds and educates some of India’s poorest, underprivileged childen. Other attendees included LN Mittal and family, the Chairman of The Akshaya Patra Foundation UK Harin Thaker,and the advisory board members, Yogesh Mehta, Prashant Jhawar, Nirmal Banthia, to name some.
The beautifully restored Victorian Arches of the Great Room at Vinopolis hosted 400 of the leading lights from the High Net Worth (HNW) Indian community in London and India. Renowned TV personality Konnie Huq oversaw proceedings as she hosted the night with her characteristic charm and humour. Proceedings began with a champagne reception followed by a gastronomic journey showcasing the best of Indian fusion cuisine.
A highlight of the prestigious event was the exclusive unveiling of celebrated Indian designer Anamika Khanna’s new Luxury 2013 collection. The Kolkata based fashionista, who has designed for Bollywood royalty Sonam Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, has the notable honour of being the first designer from India to launch an international label, and is one of the first Indian designers to show at Paris Fashion Week. The distinguished guests were mesmerised by Anamika’s ravishing designs, which included traditional garments infused with modern touches to create a hybrid of striking pieces. Beautiful models sashayed down the catwalk to flashlights and hearty applause, as Anamika emerged at the end of the fashion show, to take her much deserved bow and meet members of the press eager to interview her.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation UK raised a staggering amount of funds via a special charity auction, which comprised of a range of bespoke items and memorable experiences such as front row seats and after-party tickets to this year’s party of the year, the Victoria Secrets Fashion Show, luxury breaks such as a two-night stay at the luxurious 51 Buckingham Gate in London, an Anamika Khanna couture outfit, and a dazzling pair of diamond and jade cufflinks donated by one of India’s most esteemed fine jewellery designers, Bina Goenka. The centre piece of the auction was the ‘Adopt a School’ appeal, where for £2,500 donors could sponsor school lunches in a single school for an entire year.
The successful event concluded with a special after-party in the Cellars of Vinopolis, where DJ Raj entertained guests until the early hours of the morning.
Speaking about The Sparkle Ball event in aid of The Akshaya Patra Foundation UK, the UK President Dipika Khaitan said: “We are thrilled at the success of this evening and were delighted by the VIP and celebrity turn out who pledged their support. It was a fantastic event in aid of such a very worthy cause and a good night was had by all. A highlight of the event was the magnificent fashion show by the talented Anamika Khanna, who amazed guests with her new Luxury 2013 collection of inspired and absolutely beautiful new creations. I’ve had very positive feedback about the fashion show, with guests loving the whole look, staging and theme of the show.
“The UK chapter of The Akshaya Patra Foundation has so far raised funds to provide meals in approximately 250 schools which is 75,000 children. The funds raised by peoples’ enormous generosity has been so beneficial in helping us to continue our vital work to feed and educate some of India’s poorest and deprived children. The Akshaya Patra Foundation often provides a lifeline for children to eat well, which in turn aids their educational development, which then can help them to achieve their full potential.
“My heartfelt gratitude to everyone who attended this event, and those who have and continue to support our vital work – it is very much appreciated.”
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a leading charity pioneering a school lunch programme that addresses two of the most immediate challenges facing India: hunger/malnutrition and access to education. It is the first Indian NGO to have been selected for a case study by the Harvard Business School of USA. The organisation began in Bangalore with the ambit of feeding 1500 children in five schools. For many children it is their only complete meal of the day. This meal gives them an incentive to come to school, stay in school, and provides them with the necessary nutrients to develop cognitive abilities, enabling them to focus on learning. Ultimately, this aids in helping them to become self-sufficient and gainfully employed. The organisation has the impressive projection of feeding five million schoolchildren in India everyday by 2020. This essential work is partly funded by the Central Government of India, the respective state governments, corporates and benevolent individuals.
Today, The Akshaya Patra Foundation provides freshly prepared, nutritious meals daily to over 1.3 million underprivileged children in over 8000 schools in NINE states from 19 kitchens.
Among its many accolades, The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been named as one of the Top 100 NGOs in the world by The Global Journal in its 2013 edition titled “Top 100 NGOs Annual Ranking”. For the Annual Ranking, The Global Journal considered a pool of approximately 450 NGOs based on three key criteria: impact, innovation and sustainability. Akshaya Patra was listed in 23rd position alongside some extremely established and well-known NGOs such as Action Aid, MSF, and Path. The charity was first place in the ‘Children and Youth’ category.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation has an esteemed list of Trustees and Advisors in India, the UK and the USA, who advise and guide the charity’s operations on a daily basis. Some of its renowned supporters include: My Narayanmurthy, Deepak Chopra and Fareed Zakaria.
The international communications agency Sterling Media was proud to be the event’s official Event and PR partner.