Most Beautiful Evening

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We received a very intriguing invitation out of the blue a week or so ago!

It kept us guessing for sure … all we were given was the time and date – Friday 16 June – and “come and share and celebrate some unexpected news”.

And to be at a secret location – which was only confirmed on the day!

OMG the SUSPENSE!!!

Of course, we would be there! And we couldn’t wait to find out what it was all about!!

The invite came in the form of an email from our lovely friend, Lynn, Founder of the charity, Their Future Today https://www.facebook.com/theirfuturetoday/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf. You may remember I’ve mentioned Lynn and her fantastic charity several times before, (yes, I’m very proud of her), mainly highlighting her fundraising balls and events. In October 2016 she deservedly won a Best Business Woman award.

I first met Lynn when we worked together at a travel agency in Twickenham. We were both about 17 at the time, so a little (ahem!!) while ago and lots of memories along the way!

And so to Friday …

The beautiful venue, we discovered on the day, was at the home of one of Lynn’s close friend’s, situated on an island on the Thames no less, with simply stunning views across the river from the garden. Such a perfect setting on a gorgeous balmy summer’s evening.

There were around 60 specially invited people, including of course Lynn’s lovely family, who have actively supported her all the way. The atmosphere was so warm, friendly and very relaxed indeed.   We were treated to a delicious barbecue, along with the odd Pimms (or two!), as we soaked up the ambiance and wonderful scenery.

Ducks

Ducks in convoy gliding by!

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The “announcement” we were all eagerly awaiting, was to be at 10.30pm. Although, it flew round really quickly though as we were having such a great time and it was half past ten before we knew!

So, the moment had finally arrived!

There were touching speeches by two of Lynn’s 3 sons, culminating in the fantastic news:

Lynn had been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list!! 

(Did you spot the clue in this blog post title lol!)

Wow!!! Everyone was absolutely over the moon for her, and so delighted that her tireless hard work, dedication and fantastic achievements over the years have been recognised and rewarded by such a huge honour, and so richly deserved.

Lynn then gave some lovely words and thank you’s to all the devoted people and volunteers who have also put in such a tremendous amount of effort on behalf of the charity over the years.

Her big dilemma was how to decide who will be accompanying her to the palace – she is allowed 3 guests along with herself, and with her devoted husband, immensely proud dad and 3 caring sons to choose from, there was only one fair way – their 5 names scribbled onto serviettes (in her hands in the pic above left), with 3 being picked at random.

The celebrations and party carried on in style – don’t you just love the cake!!

Their Future Today

Lynn (right) our friend Carole (centre) and myself

Lee and I arrived back home at 2am still buzzing from having been a part of such an amazing evening.

So how did Their Future Today come about? Well, who better to explain than Lynn in her own words (quote taken from an email to her charity’s supporters announcing the exciting news of her MBE award):

‘Who would have thought it when I sat on a Sri Lankan Airlines flight 12 years ago coming home from volunteering after the Asian tsunami?

My heart told me that I had to try to do something to help orphaned and abandoned babies barely surviving in an orphanage in Sri Lanka. This was never as a gesture of charity but as an act of human justice.

I realised I couldn’t do much alone… but, I knew that I knew some amazing people who knew some amazing people, and it’s only with the help, support and love from you, which has made this Medal of the Order of the British Empire award possible and I am extremely grateful.

The United Nations Conventions of the Rights of the Child says that every child deserves the right to grow up in a family. We can make it happen, and we are.

Last year we helped reshape the pathway for 3000 abandoned and disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka by reuniting families, preventing abandonment and enabling education.”

Amazing, eh?

Please take a look at Their Future Today’s story when you get a moment https://www.theirfuturetoday.com/our-story You’ll be very moved indeed.

Congratulations Lynn Stanier MBE!!! You are a very special lady and we are so, so proud of you.

Their Future Today – TransFormaTion of Little Lives. What a difference you have made.

#LOVE FOR EVERYCHILD

 

 

A Night At The Oscars Ball

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Lights, Camera, Action!! Yay, it was a sparkly, glamorous evening full of glitter and pizzazz!

Yes, Saturday night saw us donning our best clobber and become paparazzi for the night! Well actually I dressed up in sparkles and sequins, and Lee dressed in a more “paparazzi” like way – does he look the part?

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All in aid of a very worthy cause! I’ve mentioned before about my friend Lynn’s charity, Their Future Today www.theirfuturetoday.com  The amazing work she has done and the incredible difference it has made to the lives of the children and their families in Sri Lanka is quite simply phenomenal. Please take a moment to take a look at her website if you can.

Lynn organises a fundraising ball every year, which in itself is a huge task. Each year has a different theme and this year’s was, as you have no doubt gleaned, A Night at the Oscars.

The venue, Hampton Court House School, is absolutely stunning. To add to the authenticity of the occasion, a beautiful classic red car was lit up and parked outside the house for the evening. Forgive me, my knowledge of cars is extremely limited, so unfortunately I can’t recall the model. Shame on me! Suffice to say it was a breathtaking sight to behold!!

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As the guests made their way through the double front doors, they were met with spotlights shining down upon them, with our cameras ready to “pap” them as they walked along the red carpet – a VIP grand entrance for all!

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Lynn and her youngest son Joel on the Red Carpet

After a champagne reception and tasty hors d’oeuvres, it was time for a delicious dinner created by international chef Edson Lopez Junior.

As you can see, superstars lit up every table (literally!)

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After dinner, Lynn’s moving speech and the slideshow of pictures showing some of the incredible work the charity does in Sri Lanka, along with heart-warming stories from the children, bought a tear to many an eye and truely brought home the importance of what the night was all about.

Folk were very generous in the auction, with so many amazing things to bid for, from luxury holidays to limited edition prints, all kindly donated, so every penny raised goes to the charity.

Then it was dancing til midnight to the fabulous band DAFT http://www.daftonline.co.uk/ – they really are a top notch band, and got everyone on their feet!

So a fantastic and very successful evening once again!

Ah indeed, you may have noticed. I have added a bit of an arty effect to some of the pics on here. Just because 😉

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Good Morning Britain and Lorraine – our “behind the scenes” tour

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On the famous sofa

On the famous sofa

Yes, that’s me sitting on the “Good Morning Britain” sofa between the lovely Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid.

And you may well be wondering how this amazing, and somewhat surreal, experience came about …

Well, back in February, Lee and I went to a fantastic ball organised by my friend Lynn in aid of the charity she set up ten years ago, Their Future Today http://www.theirfuturetoday.com/.  One of the prizes which had been donated for the silent auction was a “Behind The Scenes Tour” of Lorraine and Good Morning Britain.  As a surprise treat for me, Lee put in a bid … although he did come clean by the end of the evening and tell me about it.  To our amazement his bid was the winning one!

Now, after several months of anticipation, the date of our tour finally arrived. #Excited!!

We were up with the lark and caught the 5am train from Southampton to Waterloo – the only one that arrived in good time. It worked well as we had had chance to grab a quick breakfast at Waterloo before taking a leisurely stroll to the ITV Studios. No mad rush, thank goodness.

ITV Studios

ITV Studios

The tall and imposing ITV building suddenly appeared in the distance.  It looked familiar to us, having seen it on screen a few times.

We were greeted by a very friendly lady called Christine who was to be our guide for the morning. Our first stop was the canteen, which overlooks some great views of the Thames, and also of an adjacent studio from where This Morning is transmitted.

We were then shown the green room where guests on the show are looked after whilst waiting to be interviewed, fittingly just outside the door to the main studio where Good Morning Britain is filmed, so they can be quickly whizzed across when needed.

Next stop … we were allowed to quietly slip into the gallery where the producers and directors sit in front of a myriad of TV screens, each with a different job to do.  It was very interesting to watch them so efficiently at work; instructions were being fed into the earpieces of the presenters, and counting down the seconds to them until the next ad break or VT.   Fascinating for us to watch it all going on as the programme went out live.  There was a certain amount of tension in the air, but all very slick as you would expect.

We waited there until Good Morning Britain went off air; you could feel a kind of sense of relief in the room. Pressure off, and another show in the bag.

Christine then took us from the gallery and onto the Good Morning Britain set and introduced us to the presenters, Ben Shephard, Susanna Reid, who were still sat on the sofa having just finished the show, and Charlotte Hawkins, who strolled over to say hallo from the news desk.  They were all very welcoming and happily posed for some pictures with us and a quick chat before they headed off to their debrief meeting.

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The very bubbly Charlotte

Christine asked if she could use my phone to take pictures so we could be in all the shots!  We hadn’t expected that at all, I thought we might be allowed to take a couple of “selfies” with the presenters if we were lucky, so it was really great that she took over taking the photos as she of course knew which pictures were allowed.

The studio where Good Morning Britain is filmed is used only for that show at the moment, so once the presenters had left the studio, we were allowed to have a good look round – and as you can see, Christine took lots of photos of us in various areas of the studio.  It felt really strange being there, having seen it so often on the TV, and now being able to sit on the familiar cream sofa, and behind the news desk etc.

And now for the news ...

And now for the news …

Slightly bigger camera than I'm used to ;)

Slightly bigger camera than I’m used to 😉

2015-07-07 08.46.26 copy 2015-07-07 08.46.48 copy 2015-07-07 08.46.55 copyChristine then took us along to show us where hair and makeup are done, and then to the wardrobe dept, where the presenters’ clothes were neatly hanging.

So what to wear tomorrow then ...

So what to wear tomorrow then …

We loved the way all the lifts had different pictures on the doors.

2015-07-07 08.59.10 copyLorraine was now on air in another studio downstairs.  We headed down there and sneaked in behind the black curtain which surrounds the set where she was recording. Fashion stylist Mark Heyes was waiting to go on with with some models for the fashion feature. We were lead round to stand behind the cameras and got a birdseye view of Lorraine chatting to her guest, Levi Roots.

We stayed and watched whilst the rest of the show went out – Mark Heyes introducing the 4 models in various outfits.

Before we knew it, the show was over.  We were introduced to Lorraine, who was very friendly, and again Christine grabbed my phone to take a few shots.

Just as nice in real life

Just as nice in real life

It was quite a brief meeting with Lorraine as the studio has to be turned round very quickly to become the Loose Women set for later in the day, so there was no hanging round, it was all systems go!!

After all that excitement, we went back with Christine to the main reception, via the outside of the studio where there are several famous hand prints hanging on the walls. ITV’s own Hall of Fame.

Our grand tour was at an end. We said our thanks and goodbyes to Christine and headed out along the South Bank to spend the rest of the day exploring London.

Big thanks to Their Future Today for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity to have a fascinating glimpse into the world of live television!

Beforehand we had no idea of what the tour would actually involve; it far exceeded our expectations!

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Pooches, Pimms & Plenty of Sun

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Lynn congratulates the winning doggie and scenes from the day

Glorious sunshine and beautiful surroundings made for a fabulous afternoon at Hampton Court School summer fete – and in aid of a very worthy cause.

Their Future Today is a charity that my friend, Lynn, set up ten years ago, and has gone on to achieve so much since, which has been no mean feat.  Please take a look at the story if you can, it makes for very interesting reading http://theirfuturetoday.com/

We were there primarily to take pictures of the pooches in the dog show.  This was a little challenging in the heat … and of course, dogs being dogs 😉  But great fun all the same.  They each have their own special little characters and can do some really funny, and often unexpected things, which gave the spectators a good old giggle!

That’s the great thing about photographing animals – the spontaneity of it all!!

Once we’d finished taking the pictures, we had chance to wander round and enjoy the fete before we headed back up the M3.  ‘Twas very relaxing to have a natter, Pimms in hand, bask in the wonderful sunshine,  and listen to the band playing some pretty cool tunes.

Lee and I couldn’t resist treating ourselves to one of the beautiful paintings from the Art Fair.  We both fell in love with it and knew if we didn’t get it there and then, we’d have wished we had all the way home.  It was very reasonable too and looks great up in our lounge, so we’re very glad we did.

A most enjoyable afternoon for sure and a good time had by all 🙂

Their Future Today – a very worthy cause

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A very close friend of mine, Lynn, set up her charity, Their Future Today, soon after the massive tsunami in December 2004, which, in Sri Lanka, left large numbers of children orphaned or abandoned in underfunded state run institutions around the country.

Since then, what Lynn has achieved through her tireless efforts, often against all odds, has been absolutely amazing and made an enormous difference to the childrens’ quality of life.  She is truely inspirational.

Each year she holds a fundraising ball, with themes such as Bollywood, Great Gatsby or Moulin Rouge.  This weekend we took the pictures at a birthday party in London for the winning bidder of one of the prizes which we had donated to the auction at the last ball, and it was a lovely occasion to be part of, a truely memorable afternoon!

You can read more about Their Future Today and Lynn’s amazing work on her website http://www.theirfuturetoday.comImage