Thank you, Sonia, for your very kind introduction.
I personally am very pleased to be here again as Patron of 100 Women in Hedge Funds' philanthropic initiatives. In fact, it was here at Middle Temple that I attended my first London Gala as Patron, back in 2010.
Since that time, 100 Women in Hedge Funds has supported a number of charities of which Catherine, Harry and I are Patron.
Many of these charities are small – medium-sized at best – and the difference that the support that an organisation like 100 Women can bring is immense. Not only does your financial generosity go a long way, but I know that the charities benefit from your networks and the time that many of you give as Trustees on their Boards.
If I may, I’d like specifically to thank Blaine and Laura Tomlinson for their ongoing generosity through their annual Patronage Sponsorship.
For those of you who are not familiar with SkillForce's work, I should tell you that it is an organisation of which I am enormously proud to be Patron as what it does is effective, and it is one of its kind.
SkillForce specialises in character education in primary and secondary schools, taking children who are otherwise struggling with their school lives through a programme of activity designed to teach them resilience, confidence, determination and discipline.
SkillForce is unique because it uses ex-Armed Forces personnel, or civilians who share the Armed Forces' ethos, to lead the programmes.
The pressures on young people these days is enormous – much more than even when I was at school. Competition around academic attainment, the pressures of social media, popularity – all these can create an environment where those who have difficult home lives or who are otherwise struggling for whatever reason can get left behind, unable ever to catch up again, even in their adult lives.
I am very pleased to say that your support tonight will go towards a pioneering new character education scheme that is set to be a national first and includes much younger children than SkillForce has worked with before.
Aimed at five to 14-year-olds, the new programme aims to help children dare to be their best selves, develop an inner strength that will carry them through life, and give them the confidence to be comfortable in their own skin.
The scheme is currently being trialled for a year and currently involves just over 1,000 children in 37 schools across the country.
The learnings from this year's pilot will inform SkillForce as they roll out the programme to as many schools as possible in the coming years. I urge you all to be generous – SkillForce is ambitious, and this scheme could be transformative for thousands of young people.
So, once again – thank you for choosing SkillForce as your charity of the year. It means a lot to them, and to me.
Thank you, and have a good evening.