The London Mayor of Southwark, Sunil Chopra, organised a hugely successful Ball at the City Pavilion, Romford, which was attended by many key dignitaries, hosted over 750 people and immersed everyone in a wide range of entertainment, food and dance.
The Commonwealth Ball held on 18th of November, commemorated the ascension of King Charles III to the throne, celebrate his leadership of the Commonwealth and fundraise in aid of the Kings College Hospital Charity (NHS fund) and BlindAid.
Honey Kalaria, a global dance, arts and cultural diversity Ambassador proved to be a sensational host and organiser of the entertainment, which ranged from multicultural dance to East West singing right through to live DJ and a colourful commonwealth themed fashion show.
For art lovers there was also a display of contemporary paintings by the IMA Foundation contributed by over 30 professional artists from India to celebrate the Indo Western and Indo Commonwealth relations.
The entertainment package was well produced and well received, creating an atmosphere of larger than life with nearly 800 attendees and performers celebrating diversity, peace and friendship.
The Mayor of Southwark is being named as the “Green Mayor” as six trees will be planted for every ticket sold as part of the “Rotary Million Trees Planting Campaign” initiated by Honey Kalaria, who is the Rotary District Chair for the Environment Committee.
Mayor Sunil Chopra was honoured to host many distinguished guests including high commissioners and diplomats representing many Commonwealth countries from around the world, high profile Rotary members such as International Vice President Nicki Scott and other dignitaries such as Indian Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda who also contributed by sending in video messages in support of the event due to their absence on the night. The key dignitaries came together to light candles for peace, marking the celebration of unity between all nations.
The dance and entertainment line-up included a wide variety of professionals and cultural groups including Dance 2 Inspire, Triple R & Z, Lloyd Ellery, Meena Trivedy, Sapphire Creations, Unika Dance, Salay Bolivian Dancers, Warmis Equador Folk Dancers with music, lighting and visuals display provided by DJ Dhruv.
A commonwealth themed fashion show with colourful costumes from around the world was also choreographed by Honey Kalaria and Maxine from Unika that involved 30 participants, including a talented family of six-year-old Nevaeh, her model sister Chanel and talented mother Chantel; Bhavini Makwana who is totally blind; Four nurses from the Sunshine Sisters International; Duke of Edinburgh Awards youth members Ezequiel Vasquez, Hana Osman and Bruna Joaquim; Emely Dlamini from Rotary Club of London and many more who donated their time, efforts and talents to stage a memorable and spectacular show with view of raising funds for Blind Aid and Kings College Hospital Charity. Karishma Bandhari, an actress who works both in UK and USA was invited to become a secret judge and selected three participants Jonas Florell, Kaavya Suthar and Shreeya Makwana to receive a special award by the Mayor of Southwark for their team work, enthusiasm, dedication and creativity.
The special guest list was extensive and included:
• His Excellency, Dr. Winston McKenzie (United Nations Peace Ambassador)
• Her Excellency, Madam Rita Tani Iddi (Deputy High Commissioner To The UK for Ghana)
• His Excellency, Thandazile Mbuyisa (First Secretary Political at Swaziland High Commission – Kingdom Of Eswatini, South Africa)
• Her Excellency Dr. Fatou Bensouda (former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, African Union, Gambia)
• His Excellency, Mohato Bereng Seeiso (His Majesty from Lesotho)
• His Excellency, Andreas S. Kakouris (High Commissioner in the UK for the Republic of Cyprus)
• His Excellency, Ambassador Sarafadeen Tunji Isola (High Commissioner to the United Kingdom for Nigeria)
• His Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Morie Komba Manyah (High Commissioner to UK for Sierra Leone)
• His Excellency Dr Thomas Bisika (High Commissioner to UK for the Republic of Malawi)
• Rt Honourable Lieutenant General Nhial Deng (Politician from South Sudan)
• Honourable Eitvydas Bajarunas (Ambassador to the United Kingdom for Lithuania)
• Dame Helen Hyde, DBE (Dame of the British Empire recognised for her work relating to the National and Holocaust Education for Jewish Heritage)
• His Excellency, Ambassador Ivan Romero (Ambassador of Honduras to the UK, and Dean of the Latin American Ambassadors in London)
• Councillor Rosa Gomez (Blind and Finalist as one of UK’s Best Councillors)
• And many more who flew in from different parts of the world to support, and also sent in numerous messages of appreciation after the event.
Special Guests included London and Commonwealth Rotary Members who worked collectively to support the event:
• Nicki Scott, Vice President of Rotary International who shared powerful messages of how Rotary is about People in Action and leaders from around the globe, including the Commonwealth, who collectively offer “Service above self”
• Himanshu Jain, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, local representative of His Majesty who carried out the Loyal Toast
• Tony Sharma, Rotary Past District Governor who helped host visiting Rotarians attending the event
• Sreetharan Vallipuram, Rotary and Commonwealth Positive Peace Ambassador who worked on the project in an advisory capacity
• Alison Cox, Founder of Commonwealth Resounds who started the entertainment program with a beautiful song called “Majesty” dedicated to both the late Queen Elizabeth and to welcome HRH King Charles onto the throne
• Tarja Inovarra, a Rotarian based in Finland flew specially to London with various Rotary guests to attend the Mayor of Southwark’s Ball, and support the London and Commonwealth Rotarians
Many more local community leaders and politicians also attended to help fundraise and promote culture, diversity and friendship, including:
• Chief Superintendent of Metropolitan Police, Carl Lindley
• Councillor Keith Price, Member of GLA for Redbridge and Havering
• Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge London Borough Council
• Suresh Kumar, Owner of Indra Travels who headed the fundraising auction, with prizes that included flights for two to Europe and a bottle of champagne signed by Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak
• Other guests included Mayors representing various boroughs
Many sponsors and supporters came on board to help make the event a huge success including – The City Pavilion, Nusound Radio, MATV, Lyca Radio, Asian Express, PTC Punjabi, Healing Our Earth, Indra Travel, JK Film, Aster DM Healthcare, Anand International, Penrose Health, London DBS, Radnor Properties, VNRE, JagatWani, Nwer Estates, Baringa, Yagna Bhoomi, Tabla Restaurant, Siddhashram, Punjab National Bank, The London Entrepreneurs Club and others. The Mayor of Southwark is now looking forward to staging his next event in spring of 2023