On a pleasantly warm late April evening the Master’s Charity event commenced with a drinks reception at the Vintners’ Hall, where we enjoyed a very pleasant English sparkling wine generously provided by its producer, Hattingly Valley Wines. Hampshire wine merchants, The Naked Grape, a local wine merchants, organised the quiz and sourced the wines. Wine, of course, was to be very much a co-theme of the evening, not simply alongside the Master’s Charity, Fight for Sight, but also providing essential lubrication via the quiz “What`s my Wine?” for the events which were to take place later.
Dinner was called and, after an amusing welcome address from Baroness Boothroyd, the Master introduced Nigel Pantling, the new Chairman for Fight for Sight, who gave us a short talk on the work being done by the charity.
During the course of dinner, three mystery wines were served and a trio of wine experts led by Simon Evans, Managing Director of The Naked Grape, were on hand to give the diners fulsome and confusing information as to the wines’ provenance and country of origin, our task being to decide which expert was telling the truth. Certainly confusion was very much in evidence around the room; on table 5, aside from winning the table orchid in the £20 note raffle, our wine score sadly did not get a mention in dispatches, but in no way did that detract from our appreciation. I am sure all would agree it was highly enjoyable and most worthwhile.
Post dinner the Master introduced Mark Roberts, who gave us a very moving account of his involvement with Fight for Sight; an involvement which began as a result of his daughter having been diagnosed with Stargardt’s. Stargardt’s is a degenerative eye disease that results in progressive loss of central vision and is common among young children.
it was then time for the auction conducted by Nicolas Martineau from Christie’s auction house. Bidding for the eight auction lots was brisk and keenly contested, making a most generous contribution to the evening’s other fundraising efforts. The total sum raised, including gift aid, was £22,000, of which £9,000 went to the Feltmakers’ Charitable Foundation, the rest going to Fight for Sight.
And on a not too late, and still warm April evening, agreeably refreshed, we headed for home.