The Palace of Westminster is one of the world’s most iconic buildings and the home of democracy. Wherever you are in the world, every time you switch on the television, you see the Palace of Westminster from the South Bank. Even from a distance you can see the magnificent terrace overlooking the river. If you happened to look at the terrace on Friday 26th April, you would have seen our guests enjoying pre-dinner drinks and the wonderful view of the river and London skyline, before moving into Dining Room A for a splendid evening of music and speeches from our very special guests.

Senior Trustee, Michael Douglas, welcomed everyone and introduced Lead Consultant Paediatric Oncologist Dr Soonie Patel and the Member of Parliament for Central Croydon, Sarah Jones. Michael then introduced Trustee Rachel Rogan who said Grace.

After dinner, Michael gave a brief history of the charity, and thanked so many of our guests for their support, mentioning those who always go the extra mile for us. He then introduced Rachel Rogan who gave us a progress report on the Lily Pad Campaign and a general invitation to the many events and functions we have in the months ahead.

After a lovely round of applause for Rachel, Michael introduced Dr Soonie Patel. Soonie explained her role in Croydon University Hospital and gave us details of the problems that her young patients are presented with, and the treatment plans they face on their journey to recovery. Soonie spoke softly when describing some of the treatment that her young patients face, but not for long, because Soonie’s Mum, Mukta, who had accompanied her, promptly told her to speak up! We all found this amusing, as did Soonie, who reminded us that whoever you are, and wherever you go, Mum is still in charge! Soonie also told us that she was both surprised and delighted to be presented with a cheque for £100,000 before dinner by the Lily Pad Team: Rachel Rogan, Sara Borg, Jo Bennett and Lucy Bramley, the first instalment of our contribution to the New Integrated Paediatric Ward. Soonie received a warm round of applause and Michael thanked her for the amazing work that she does for our children.

Michael then introduced Lucy Bramley. Lucy introduced our guests to the charity’s No Isolation project and explained in detail the difference that these Robots are making to children undergoing treatment. Essentially the Robot takes the place of the child in the classroom. The child can access lessons from anywhere via a mobile phone or tablet meaning that they can keep up with their schoolwork and school friends throughout their treatment. Lucy was applauded and thanked for introducing us to No Isolation Robots. Michael informed us that we currently had 12 in use with another 12 required.

Michael then introduced Soprano Courtney Noakes. Courtney entertained us with four songs from popular musicals and, as always, amazed us with her beautiful voice. Courtney was loudly applauded and Michael thanked her for donating her time, once again, to support our charity.

Michael introduced our final guest, The Right Honourable Sarah Jones MP. Sarah is the MP for Central Croydon and was also appointed Shadow Housing Minister, two days after being elected as Croydon’s first ever female MP.

Sarah gave us a very interesting and humorous report on how the Government and opposition works, and how challenging everyday problems in Croydon are. She referred to the Brexit issue as ‘a bit of trouble upstairs’, which we all found amusing. She also mentioned that she was educated in Croydon, as was Soonie Patel, and how encouraging it was to know that both of them still worked there.

Sarah received a very warm round of applause. Michael thanked her for the effort she made to attend this evening, explaining that Sarah had been working in Birmingham until 5pm and still managed to get here on time!

Michael thanked Rachel, Lucy, Soonie, Courtney, and Sarah again and all of our guests for joining us and for their continued support. He told us that the Charity is still, and always will be, run on a shoestring and that every penny raised will be used with care. He then wished us all a safe journey home adding that he hoped to see us all again soon.