embassy 2015

November 2015 –

Aisling fundraising gets dressed up

During this last month or so Aisling has had to wear a suit as we have had to do a good bit of fine dining and dancing in some of London’s top hotels. This is the kind of thing that Aisling has to do more frequently these days with myself and John Glynn tripping the light fantastic hobnobbing with the rich and famous in order to support our disadvantaged clients. Someone has to do it but there is something very right and satisfying about successful Irish business emigrants giving a hand to their less fortunate brothers and sisters. This month we also received our usual grant from the Irish government through the Emigrant Support Programme which is administered through the embassy in London. This pays the most part of three salaries and so is about 40% of the overall costs of running Aisling. As any regular reader of our website will know we have to look far and wide for the rest. Luckily we have made some inroads into the Irish business community in recent years.

Aisling has been a favoured charity of a few Irish business networking organisations like the British Irish Trading Alliance (http://www.bita.ie/) and for a couple of years now and we have attended a number of functions organised by them and in particular their tireless Chairman Paul Withnell most often at The Rising Sun pub in the City of London and recently we have attracted the attention of other organisations that are now helping us raise funds for the charity.

In October we attended an amazing event which was the presentation of the Tom Langan Cup to the winners of a unique tournament between the police forces of London, Ireland, N. Ireland and New York at the Hilton Hotel in Paddington (the Gardaí won unsurprisingly). The tournament is held every two years and it floats between each police district in turn and has been running for the last 10 years. It is a practical expression of the Peace Process bringing together these disparate police authorities in fraternity and sport and specifically the police forces of the two administrations in Ireland. We had a great night and amusingly the fundraising part of the evening, which benefitted Aisling this year featured a raffle with prizes donated by the Danny Sullivan Construction company (http://dannysullivan.co.uk/) and consisted of the attending law officers writing their names on a bank note which was then drawn from a hat to determine the lucky winners, an act which is unlawful in Britain.

Tom Langan was a member of the Gardaí and a legendary GAA star of the 1950’s and a member of the last great Mayo team to win an All-Ireland medal (twice in Tom’s case). Next year legend has it that the infamous curse that has prevented the Mayo team playing in the final again will be lifted. Aisling has a stake in the prediction coming true as long time Aisling clients the Hughes brothers will only come home to North Mayo when the Mayo team make it to the final. They have been away from home even longer than Mayo’s All-Ireland drought.

A couple of weeks later and John and I were at the Renaissance hotel in Heathrow for the West London Irish Society annual charity dinner dance where Aisling was one of the favoured charities. The other charity receiving the society’s largesse that evening was the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith. They have almost completed work on a brand new centre but they still need to raise the cash to fit out the building as a fully functioning London-wide centre for Irish culture. The Irish community has certainly missed the packed programme of events that Ros Scanlan used to put on in the old centre and I am looking forward to even better times to come in Hammersmith.

After the meal there was a raffle and an auction where, once again Danny Sullivan was one of the contributors. Danny has helped out Aisling in other ways over the years giving us the occasional use of one of his minibuses when we were on-the-scrounge before we bought our new one. The name on the bank note dodge was tried again for the raffle and it is obviously very popular at these sorts of do’s and though it may be illegal it is a very handy way of collecting a lot of money relatively painlessly. Four other prizes were auctioned off and they attracted some big bids from the high rollers in the room, most going for over a thousand. Heading home that evening driving down the old A4 looking like Las Vegas with all of the massive hotels laid-out in a long brightly-lit strip we felt as if we had hit the jackpot.