ARK beats £10m target at annual fundraiser by £5.6m
A total of £15.6m was raised at the eighth annual Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) dinner, beating its £10m target but well below last year’s figure of £25.5m.
More than 800 guests pledged their support for the event, held at Waterloo International in London, bidding for luxury lots such as Damien Hirst customised Fiat cars and access to the Ferrari Formula One paddock at the Monaco Grand Prix, which went under the hammer of Henry Wyndham, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe.
Entertainment was provided by the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Simon Wright, and by pupils from ARK academies.
London Mayor Boris Johnson endorsed ARK’s work in educating London’s least privileged schoolchildren in his keynote speech saying, “Education is the bedrock for extending opportunity,” urging ARK "to do more of it faster!"
Arpad Busson, chairman of ARK, announced a £27m HIV/AIDS programme in South Africa that will target HIV in infants. ARK launched its first programme in South Africa, to prevent children being orphaned by AIDS, with the South African government in 2003. They hope to treat another 58,000 patients in the next phase and pilot new drugs that could reduce HIV transmission between mothers and children.
Busson said, “ARK’s work has never been more important than it is today.”
Since 2002 ARK has invested more than £115m in HIV/AIDS clinics in South Africa, inner city schools in the UK, and re-housing abandoned Romanian children.