Britain is back, says David Cameron at Norwood’s annual dinner

18 November 2014

In his first speech after returning from the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Prime Minister David Cameron confidently predicted good news for the UK's economic recovery. He said: "After the difficult decisions of recent years, we are now home to record numbers of new businesses. We’ve seen the largest ever fall in unemployment this year and we’ve created more jobs than the rest of the European Union put together." He said: "Be in no doubt, Britain is back."

He also strongly condemned the recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain, saying: "no disagreements on politics or policy should ever be allowed to justify racism, prejudice or extremism in any form. There is never any excuse for anti-Semitism.. And I promise you, I will fight anti-Semitism in this country wherever it is found."

The dinner raised £3.6m for the UK's largest Jewish children, family and learning disability charity, attracting a host of celebrities including Sir Phillip Green, Karren Brady, Simon Cowell and his partner Lauren Silverman and Vanessa Feltz. At the end of the evening, Simon Cowell delivered the closing speech with X-Factor fan Michael Kuperberg, who is supported by Norwood.

Sponsored by SG Hambros, the dinner was attended by almost 1,300 guests, raising the much-needed funds that enable the charity to deliver its vital services to vulnerable families, children with special educational needs and adults with learning disabilities and autism. Operating across London and the South East, Norwood supports more than 7,000 people.

The Prime Minister praised the charity, saying: "Norwood has been at the heart of our country for more than two centuries. Tonight, let us make this our vow – We will make sure that Norwood stays there, as part of Britain, for generations to come."

He singled out one Norwood fundraiser for a special mention. Douglas Silas, a leading disability lawyer who battled a rare nerve condition to fundraise for the charity, was presented with a Points of Light Award.

The Prime Minister said: "Douglas you are an inspiration to us all – you are a Point of Light in our country and I am delighted to able to recognise your service today."

During his speech, Norwood Chair David Ereira explained that Norwood is facing an increased demand in family support services, saying: "Due to local authority cuts, our teams are dealing with critical need and more complex challenges. Every day, more and more families are turning to Norwood."

Friend and generous supporter of the charity Simon Cowell gave the final speech of the evening – alongside long-time X Factor fan Michael Kuperberg, who has a learning disability and is supported by Norwood. Simon Cowell said Norwood is: "a fantastic organisation – always humbling, often inspiring."

Cowell even presented Kuperberg with a pair of backstage passes to The X Factor live show. After a standing ovation from the crowd Michael Kuperberg said: "I couldn’t be any happier to meet my hero. Simon is so warm and kind and puts you at your ease."

Speaking after the event Norwood President Richard Desmond said: "Norwood has been there for the most vulnerable members of our community for more than 220 years. Events like tonight really show just how much support there is for Norwood – and the money we’ve raised means we can continue to be the safety net for everyone who turn to us for help."

Norwood Life President Carol Sopher said: "It’s so wonderful to see how much support there is for Norwood – this charity holds a very special place in my heart and I know in the heart of so many others."

Norwood Chief Executive Elaine Kerr said: "This year’s Annual Dinner has been an amazing success. We had more guests than ever before and I hope they’ve gained a real understanding of the vital work Norwood carries out and the professionalism with which we deliver our services. I’m also hoping that the pledges we receive tonight will enable us to continue and develop our services further, to meet the increasing and changing needs of the community."

Talking about Douglas Silas’s Points of Light Award, Elaine Kerr said: "We’re delighted Douglas has been chosen as a worthy recipient of this award and honoured that he has focused his endeavors in aid of Norwood. Not only has the money raised by ‘team Douglas’ helped so many – he shows just what can be achieved when, as he says – you ‘see the ability, not the disability’.

"Many of the people we support face enormous challenges in life – and for them, Douglas is a true hero. What Douglas does is inspiring – and proof of how far you can get with determination, passion and courage."

For the full speech by the Prime Minister, click here.