The glad rags were out in force on Friday evening as Meryl, Jan, Mai-Britt and Mark attended the Newbury Weekly News Best in Business Awards at Newbury Racecourse. It was back in July this year that the Soup Kitchen learned they were short listed to one of three contenders within the Charity and Not For Profit category.
Some 300 people gathered at the racecourse to attend the Black Tie gala dinner, where they were welcomed with a champagne and canapé reception, followed by a three course meal and coffee.
The Evening Unfolded
Headline sponsor for the evening was West Berkshire Brewery and the evening was hosted by TV personality Thomas Plant. Running his own auction house in Berkshire, he best known for his appearances on BBC TV’s Flog It! and Bargain Hunt.
All four of the Soup Kitchen volunteers held their breath in anticipation as the three finalist names were projected onto the screen for their category. Shocked with the announcement, they attended the stage for the presentation. Sponsored by New Greenham Trust, the award was presented to Meryl by Chris Boulton.
Prior to dinner, it was announced that there would be an auction during the course of the evening. Each attendee receiving an envelope at their table place, that they could use to enter the auction, prizes donated by various local businesses. The awards continued as desert was served, at which time it was announced that the benefactor of the money raised would be the winner of the Charity and Not For Profit category, namely Newbury Soup Kitchen. Match funded by Greenham Common Trust, Meryl, Jan, Mai-Britt and Mark were astounded to learn that they were to receive a cheque for a staggering £4,468.00.
Throughout the evening during the speeches and presentations, there was always an ambient noise. At some times, loud enough that ‘ssshhhh’ sounds were heard as other attendees wanted to dim the noise to hear what was being said.
It was another round of applause as the four yet again traversed the steps onto the stage to receive the cheque. This time, Meryl asked and took the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of the Soup Kitchen. One could here a pin drop as silence filled the room.
After the cheque presentation, there were a number of fellow attendees who wanted to offer their congratulations. One of those was Richard Benyon MP, who while speaking to Jan and Mark advised he was similarly captivated by Meryl’s words as she enthralled the audience.
Mai-Britt summed up the occasion nicely, commenting: