Last week we spent an evening with those nearest and dearest to us looking back and celebrating the incredible milestone of 10 Years of Amazing at Penny Appeal. I’m often asked, what’s the Penny Appeal secret? How has Penny Appeal accomplished so much in such little time?
Well, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s team work that makes the dream work, and here are just a small handful of the stories behind our success.
- My Amazing Mum
My inspiration and my hero. When I was 8 years old my father unexpectedly passed away, leaving the entire responsibility of caring for our young family to my mum. Despite struggling for many years, she made sure our every need was attended to. We may not have had much materially, but our home was always overflowing with so much light and love and this really became the inspiration for our programme of activities at Penny Appeal. She believed in Penny Appeal when it was just an idea in my mind and gave me the love and encouragement to turn the dream into a reality.
2. Dr Hany El-Banna
If Penny Appeal has been able to achieve anything, it is because we have had the fortunate blessing to stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. Dr Hany is one of those giants. From day one he has been one of Penny Appeal’s strongest supporters, sharing wisdom from his decades of experience. He’s never been one to hold back on frank, constructive and specific feedback, helping us grow in untold ways. We are forever grateful for his continuous support and guidance.
3. Mary Creagh MP
Mary has been my Member of Parliament for almost 15 years and since the early days of Penny Appeal I’ve been fortunate to be able to call her a friend too. She has flown the Penny Appeal flag from her constituency in Wakefield all the way to the Houses of Parliament. Her ongoing commitment to Penny Appeal remains a central pillar that supports our work both at home and abroad.
4. Sir Rodney Walker
Sir Rodney is one of the most accomplished and inspirational people I’ve had the fortune and pleasure of knowing. With a lifetime of experience leading charities and large-scale organisations, Sir Rodney is a man of the city and has always been particularly moved by our investment into Wakefield. His guidance, mentorship and support have gone a long way to help transform Penny Appeal from a small-scale idea into a movement that transforms lives around the world.
5. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi
Lady Warsi is one of the most senior British Muslim politicians and has been a personal and organisational inspiration and support. She is the embodiment of wisdom, talking the talk and walking the walk – in a stylish salwar kameez too! She has championed our work in the corridors of power and has collaborated with us on social mobility programmes for young people in our area. Her sharp, positive, can-do attitude have helped make Penny Appeal who we are today.
6. Small Change, Big Difference Awards
If it was up to me, I’d give every staff member, board member and volunteer a big shiny trophy. It was a real honour, nonetheless, to award a handful of especially remarkable individuals who have contributed to Penny Appeal in their own ways, shaping us into the charity we are today. Pictured here is one of our long-term supporters and friends, Ahmad Bostan. His energy and passion for the charity is infectious and he has been championing the charity from our very first appeal many, many years ago.
7. Aamer Naeem OBE
What can I say about our Chief Exec, Aamer Naeem? His dedication, vision and sheer hard work is perhaps the primary reason why we are where we are today. He has led our growth, nurtured our teams and taken us far beyond our own imaginations with his brave and bold leadership. We are incredibly proud of him, not least given his recent OBE in the New Year’s Honours List. I’m proud to have him as our CEO and even prouder to call him my friend.
8. Sharing the Journey
Part of where you’re going is knowing where you’re coming from, and so as Penny Appeal has grown, it’s important that we remind our existing staff and supporters and inform our new ones about where and how we began. It was those humble beginnings, taking small change and making a big difference with it, that catapulted us to where we are now. We should never forget that. As our charity evolves to rise up to new challenges, it’s important that we always keep our feet firmly planted on the ground, and this is one of the messages I shared on the night.
9. Team Orange
There are so many people that deserve our thanks; too many to mention. All across the UK and even around the world we have people who support us, work for us, advise us, guide us, volunteer with us, donate to us and pray for us. It’s their hard work and their heart work that have both made the charity what it is today and what it will be in the coming years and decades. Old faces leave and new faces arrive all the time and each of them leave their mark in their own little way. So, to each and every one of you, a sincere thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.
10. Three Generations
I wanted to end with this picture here that really encapsulates the spirit of our 10 year celebration. Dr Hany El-Banna called me and our new amazing #KidBoss to the stage to celebrate three generations of humanitarian work. Just as we build on the work of the giants that came before us, so too must we build for the generation to come. Our Child CEO reminds us that all that we do will be passed on to the next generation. What we hold in our hands is a trust for them and it is they who will take our charity far beyond anyone’s imagination. I just hope I live long enough to see it!