Controversy and some solo singing on IoF awards night

Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton hosted a noisy awards ceremony on Monday evening

Helen Skelton hosts the awards
Helen Skelton hosts the awards

There was something for everyone at the Institute of Fundraising National Awards on Monday evening: worthy winners, inspiring stories, some a cappella singing and a good dose of controversy.

Mark Astarita, chair of the institute, kicked things off with an attack on charity leaders for "sitting in the Coliseum silently watching the lions take chunks out of us".

He said: "I am getting pretty sick of the fact that it is the fundraisers of this country, in this room tonight, who seem to be constantly in the firing line, and every time we rush out of the trenches defending our right to ask, every other charity leader happy to take the cash has run for the hills with their petticoats showing. Since when have they become such cowards?

"I know my chief executive is proud of his fundraisers, and I bet many of the bosses of tonight's winners are too, but too many of our leaders don't get it, don't care enough about it, don't shout about it and frankly see us as nothing more than a necessary evil."

Bethany HareAfter that the room fell unusually silent for an unaccompanied performance of Make You Feel My Love, the Bob Dylan song made famous by Adele. The singer was 13-year-old Bethany Hare (right), who was later presented with the Child Fundraiser of the Year award; and then the Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton took over to host the awards ceremony.

Skelton told the story of a trip to Sierra Leone in west Africa, during which she was filming a seven-year-old boy who had to walk seven miles to collect water. He had hurt his foot, so she decided to carry him, and while they were passing through a village a man shouted: "Hey Madonna, why do you keep stealing our children?"

The applause was particularly heartfelt for Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year Barbara Smith, who has volunteered for Action for Children for more than 70 years, and Ruth Freeman, director of income generation and marketing at Myton Hospices, who took the Gill Astarita Fundraiser of the Year award.

The evening was rounded off with the presentation of the Lifetime Contribution award to Alan Gosschalk, director of fundraising at Scope. He said he was honoured to take it, considering those who had received it before him: "I am not sure I fit in the same category as them."

- See photographs of the awards

- Read more on this year's IoF National Convention

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