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We are very pleased to be a Platinum Sponsor of the Foundation of Light’s Gala Awards Dinner 2023.

The event took place on Thursday 30 November at the Beacon of Light in Sunderland. It is a highlight in the charity’s calendar. The Foundation celebrated the impact it has made to the lives of those across the region, while raising funds to help make sure that work can continue. The evening raised over £80,000. 

A total of 16 categories were awarded and we sponsored the Inspiring Excellence Award, won by undergraduate Primary Education student Emily Brown from Van Mildert College.

Left to right: Kristjaan Speakman (Sunderland AFC Sporting Director), Emily Brown, Kyril Louis-Dreyfus (SAFC Chairman) and Quentin Sloper (Director of Student Enrichment, Durham University)

A magical night

As well as celebrating the Foundation’s work, the evening featured performances from The Sunderland Story and from Jason Donovan.

The Sunderland Story is a feel-good show about family, friends and a lifelong love of a football club. Cast members performed highlights of their hit show which played to sold out crowds at the Sunderland Empire Theatre in May.

Chart-topping recording artist and award-winning actor Jason Donovan took to the stage in a headlining slot. The Australian actor and singer was introduced by Sir Tim Rice, a Foundation trustee, following a showcase of inspiring stories from children, families and adults who have overcome adversity.  

Sir Bob Murray, Steve Cram, George Clarke and Sunderland AFC stars and legends are just some of the special guests who attended the Gala Awards Dinner.

Jason Donovan entertained attendees

Supporting our local communities

Durham is a world-leading university and proudly part of North East England. From inspiring learning to sharing our facilities, from driving economic growth to helping our region become more sustainable: we ensure that the benefits of a world-leading university are shared across our city, county and region. We partner with and support local organisations and people in our wider community. 

The Foundation of Light makes life-changing differences to thousands of local children and families. This is a time when the charity’s work across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham matters so much to so many.

Quentin Sloper, Director of Student Enrichment said: "It was a privilege to be able to celebrate the transformative - and longstanding - impact of the Foundation of Light and the remarkable achievements of the many award winners. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to present the Inspiring Excellence Award to Durham University student, Emily Brown, who has just started at Durham, is part of the University Football Club, and is a member of Van Mildert College. It is clear than she has been an inspiration to many young people in the local area for a long time and we are very fortunate to have Emily as part of our University community.

"The Gala was a great success. The University and the Foundation have many shared values and we look forward to working far more closely with the Foundation across the coming months and years."

Find out more

About the Foundation of Light

About our What We Achieve Together report