BBC Strictly stars reveal their ‘personal bests’ at Norwood’s annual dinner

15 November 2016

BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing stars shared their ‘personal bests’ for Norwood, at the charity’s fundraising dinner last night. Contestants Judge Rob Rinder and Greg Rutherford MBE and Strictly judge Darcey Bussell CBE joined almost a thousand guests at London’s prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel for the annual event, which raised £2.75m for the UK’s largest Jewish children’s, family and learning disability charity.

The charity also launched its annual campaign – which demonstrates how Norwood supports people to go above and beyond that which others believed possible, and to achieve their ‘personal best’.

Speaking at the event, Norwood’s Joint President Lady Nicola Mendelsohn CBE said: "Personal best – this year’s theme – is about ripping to pieces the limitations that others place on you. It’s about hearing ‘you’ll never be able to do that’, then going right ahead and doing it … and doing it well. It’s the common thread that runs through every part of this charity: day in, day out."

Criminal barrister, TV Judge and Strictly contestant Rob Rinder hosted a Q&A with prima ballerina and Strictly judge Darcey Bussell, and Olympian and fellow Strictly contestant Greg Rutherford where, in keeping with the theme of the evening, they talked about their own ‘personal bests’.

Praising the charity, Judge Rob Rinder said: "Norwood is an extraordinary charity in every sense. If you really want to understand what a charity does at its absolute best, it’s personified in Norwood. The thing about Norwood is that once you realise what services they provide, and once you realise what they do, and how they get young people involved, you become a part of the Norwood Family for life. It represents the best of the Jewish community in every meaningful sense. It’s a charity that we can be incredibly proud of. And that’s why I love it."

Greg Rutherford MBE, said: "What’s surprised me about Norwood is the range and the amount of people it’s managed to help. For me, as a dad myself, it’s really really wonderful to know that there are charities out there willing to help people who are disadvantaged… and Norwood does an amazing and very special job"

Norwood Honorary Life President and Chair of the Annual Dinner Committee Carol Sopher, said: "It’s only because of the generosity of our valued donors that we are able to close the gap between what our vital services cost to run and the statutory funding we receive from the government, meeting the needs of those who turn to Norwood for help."

Before the panel discussion, the audience heard from 21-year-old Rebecca Lane, who overcame a childhood marked by trauma and neglect to achieve her ‘personal best’ – completing the last year of a chemistry degree. In a moving speech, Rebecca said: "Norwood has been there for me since as long as I can remember. I dreamed of going to university but, as a child whose parents walked out at the age of 14 … whose family were evicted from 14 different homes, I knew the statistics were against me. But Norwood helped me fulfil my dream. I can say, without any doubt, that I would not be where I am without their help."

Norwood Chief Executive Elaine Kerr, said: "We hope that our guests this evening left feeling inspired by the real life stories they’ve heard, and with the knowledge that their support has made a huge difference to the lives of so many. The money raised tonight will do a tremendous amount of good and we’re so grateful that Greg and Rob took time out of their gruelling Strictly schedule to support our cause."

For more photos from the evening, please click here.