This Saturday saw Rainbow Fostering celebrate its 18th anniversary in true style – our annual foster carer awards – one of the hottest Christmas tickets in town. Although the night was cold, there were plenty of warm hearts gathered together at the prestigious Hilton London Metropole Hotel. This was a memorable awards evening for so many people in so very many different ways: so many different stories coming together to be celebrated by all. Some of the Rainbow Foster carers were recognised for ten years dedicated work to fostering children and young people. Others were celebrated for their sterling efforts over a shorter period of time. But the one thing all the Rainbow carers had in common was a resilience, enthusiasm and passion to do their very best for the youngsters in their care. It was a privilege to be amongst so many exceptional people and to hear about their remarkable and individual experiences of fostering: how it had changed their lives and get a sense of the truly worthwhile in life.
The director of Rainbow Fostering, Aijaz Ahmad, was on hand to present the awards and pay tribute to the foster carers – as well as to the dedicated members of Rainbow’s own fostering team. The awards marking this auspicious event had been especially produced in sculpted glass to carry the new Rainbow logo – along with a special 18th Anniversary symbol to distinguish the occasion.
Commitment & Loyalty Awards for 10 years fostering services with Rainbow Fostering were won by:
Talib & Tasneem, Paula & Dean, Wushen & Isayas, Abdullah & Najma, Ama & Alan, Nayar & Javed, Carlene & Winston, Maxine
Achievement Awards were won by:
Natalie, Linda & Malcolm, Barbara & Victor, Charles & Hiwot, Sarah & Steve, Richard & Euan, Jeff & Avril, Beverly, Lucy, Colin & Sandra, Sonia & Trevor, Movella, Faye & Colin, Delores, Martin & Sarah, Deborah & Steven, Sadia and Sharon
Rainbow Employee Awards were won by:
Richard and Nicholas
Special Recognition Awards:
For vision and leadership – Professor Talat Ahmad Vice-Chancellor Jamia Millia Islamia University
For commitment & dedication – Dr M Hansari
And finally, Jenny, one of senior social workers, was recognised with a special award for her dedicated and longstanding service to Rainbow.
The VIP guests in attendance were Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West and Professor (Dr.) Talat Ahmad, Vice- Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia university. As an alumni of the prestigious Indian university, it was both gratifying and touching for Aijaz that the Vice-Chancellor had travelled all the way to London to play his part in marking this noteworthy occasion. The Vice-Chancellor spoke movingly about the hard work and industry that Aijaz had displayed in bringing Rainbow to the front rank of fostering organisations in the UK. He went on to talk about the special fostering project – dear to both men’s hearts that is now underway. This is an ambitious plan seeking to create a model for supporting children without homes in a country where the idea of fostering is poorly understood. There are 30 million orphans in India, so there is a pressing and urgent need to educate, inform and then implement a system that will help provide homes and futures for huge numbers of desperate children. The preparatory work on this project has already started with plans being drawn up and the liaison between Rainbow and Jamia Millia Islamia underway. The concept Aijaz has under development is called “Fostering Children for a Better Nation”. This is all about contributing his experience to introduce best practice with regard to fostering. It is an initiative forming the main part of Rainbow International’s work for the next few years. The goal is nothing less than the creation of a model for the provision of fostering services that will work for an entire nation.
On with the show…once the serious business of presenting the awards was completed, all assembled could sit back and enjoy a unique blend of entertainment. Topping the bill was the celebrated singer/songwriter Ras Sherby along with Marianna Zappi – late of ‘X Factor’ fame with a rendition of her signature ballad – ‘Redemption Song’. She only recently performed this on national television – winning the plaudits of those notoriously hard to please judges. It was was especially moving when Sherby sang ‘All you need is love’ – for that is exactly what this special group of award winning foster carers had demonstrated they had in abundance.
Following the singing was entertainment of the more exhausting variety supplied by ‘Sapnei’
a troupe of dancers with the kind of vitality you would associate with the energy output needed to power a small town. This was definitely a treat for onlookers only – especially as everyone had just enjoyed the most hearty dinner. And finally…what awards evening of this magnitude could be complete without the closing appearance of a true megastar – and so Michael Jackson (or at least someone very closely resembling him) was suddenly on hand to treat us to a high octane performance of hat throwing, hip gyrations and the ‘trademark’ moonwalking.
During the evening’s celebrations, there was a special round of applause For Aijaz without whose vision and efforts over the years there would simply have been no Rainbow. His son, Shahban, gave a memorable speech celebrating Aijaz’s accomplishments and his example as a father. This was the perfect opportunity for everyone to mark the support given Aijaz by his wife, Afshan, and all their children.
As the evening reached a tumult of music and dance there was one more crescendo to come and it arrived in the form of a resplendent anniversary cake. This featured Rainbow’s special anniversary logo now in edible form and most satisfying it proved to be.
And, finally, what more fitting song to close the evening with than a performance of Michael Jackson’s unforgettable hit “You are not Alone” – which is certainly true for all the children, foster carers and everyone associated with Rainbow Fostering.
And the good news at the end of this particular rainbow…Nick Phillips and Richard Carr – both Rainbow Team members were presented awards for the work they have done this year in support of our foster carers and their children. And as you might expect, the applause rang out every time our Assistant Manager, Clive, got a mention. Hugely popular with staff and carers alike, Clive’s support, wisdom and guidance was singled out by Nick and Richard.