Organised by law firm Challinors, Birmingham’s St Philips Chambers and the city’s award-winning restaurant Itihaas, the black tie dinner was full to capacity, with 500 guests from the business and legal communities from across the Midlands, who gathered for the Bollywood-themed event at Solihull’s St John’s Principal Hayley Hotel.
The programme for the evening included a troupe of Heena dancers, the renowned comedian Shazia Mirza and Indian singer and chart topper Navin Kundra, and guests enjoyed a spectacular menu courtesy of Itihaas, who were praised for their ‘exceptional management of the event.’The £40,000 fund was raised through ticket sales, a raffle and live, silent auction.
Lead organiser Ghulam Sohail, a Partner at Challinors, said: “We received numerous unique donations for the auction including a pair of boxing gloves from Prince Naseem, a signed swimming costume from Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, Premiership football club signed shirts and match tickets, a cricket bat signed by the England team donated by the Professional Cricketers Association, and signed Sir Stephen Redgrave and Peter Andre memorabilia.“The winning bid of £2,000 secured an eight-seat executive box at Old Trafford for the Manchester United vs. Aston Villa game on the 1st February 2011, whilst the donation of a four-bed penthouse, with staff, for one week in Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’ went for £2,500.”
Speaking at the event, entrepreneur, businessman and TV’s Dragons’ Den star James Caan thanked the guests for their support of the Appeal and the plight of the victims of the floods, adding: “Challinors’ Ghulam Sohail and all the co-organisers must be praised for his efforts in putting together a tremendous programme for the evening. There are still enormous challenges ahead for the people of Pakistan and we must not loose sight of the fact that this problem for the millions of people affected, will be felt for decades to come.”
Ghulam Sohail added: “We are delighted the event sold out within a few weeks of tickets going on sale, and that so many generous donations were made for the live auction and raffle. The response from all sectors of the community has been extraordinary, and made the organisation of the event absolutely worthwhile.“We were fortunate to attract a high profile guest list, notably including the Vice Consulate to the Consulate of Pakistan, many Judges, local business people and sports people. The event went extremely well, even better in many ways than we could have hoped. Our estimated £40,000 fund is a tremendous result of the combined efforts. Particular thanks must go to Itihaas for their event management and spectacular food.”
Itihaas managing director Raj Rana said: “It was encouraging to see peers of the Asian business community combining their efforts with mainstream corporates to make the evening a success. The event was a fine example of how all community and business sectors can come together at times of crisis, removing outdated stigmas and breaking down invisible barriers to reach out to those individuals who need emergency aid.”
All proceeds from the event will be distributed to at least two Foundations and Charities tasked with implementing the reconstruction phase of the flood-affected areas of Pakistan, in particular the building of schools, hospitals and houses. James Caan, who set up The James Caan Foundation, is committed to helping the victims affected by the floods in Pakistan. Caan visited Pakistan in August when he personally delivered food packages to thousands of families left homeless and starving by the floods. He has now embarked on the ‘Build a Village’ project to help those victims get their lives back on track by rebuilding their homes and providing them with the necessary infrastructure to rebuild their lives.