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10th annual ARK dinner raises GBP17.2m for children’s programmes in Africa, Romania, UK and India

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The international children’s charity ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) marked its tenth anniversary with its charity dinner in Kensington Palace Gardens on Thursday, raising GBP17.2m for children’s programmes in Africa, Romania, the UK and India. The event was attended by Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and more than 1,000 guests.

Guests commemorated a decade in which the initiative of a handful of committed philanthropists grew into an ambitious, entrepreneurial, charity which has transformed the lives of 200,000 children from Eastern Europe to Southern Africa, India and the UK.
The dinner was addressed by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge on behalf of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry. The Duke announced a new venture between ARK and the Princes’ Foundation to support young people in the UK and Africa.
His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge said: “I know that I am very fortunate. I have had a good education, a secure home and a loving and supportive family. So many young people, however, do not have these advantages and, as a result, can lack the confidence and knowledge to realise their full potential.
“That is why I am so pleased that the Foundation and ARK are working together on this project to help young people who really need it. Programmes from this partnership will raise aspirations, broaden horizons and encourage young people to achieve what may have seemed to them unachievable. “
Diarrhoea treatment programme in Zambia backed by UK Government
ARK is launching a major diarrhoea vaccination and treatment programme in Zambia. Diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of under-fives in Africa.  ARK has pledged GBP1m for rotavirus treatment as part of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) pledging conference, the centrepiece of UK efforts to improve access to new vaccines in the developing world. ARK is the first organisation to make a pledge and the UK government has committed to match funds raised by ARK to purchase the rotavirus vaccine for its treatment programme in Zambia.

In addition ARK raised funds for maternal and neonatal health programme in Zimbabwe, the next phase of ARK’s work with Hope and Homes for Children in Romania and UK education programmes.

ARK’s child protection work was also recognised tonight by the UK Charity Awards who presented ARK with the 2011 Award for International Aid and Development for its work in Bulgaria where ARK’s programme provided a framework to reform Bulgaria’s childcare system and begin the closure of the institutions that impaired so many thousands of children’s lives. 
ARK Chairman, Ian Wace, said: "A decade ago we set out to make a lasting difference to children in the most terrible circumstances. To help children who didn’t have a voice and parents who feared for the lives and futures of their children.

“Since then we have transformed the lives of 200,000 children. As importantly we have created highly effective, catalytic programmes that have helped bring about the policies and political will to realise sustainable, permanent change.

“I am very proud of what we’ve achieved so far and extremely grateful to our donors this evening. Their generosity will enable us to take forward our vital work in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Romania and the UK. I thank them for their support for ARK over the past decade and look forward to working together in the years to come.”
ARK’s Founding Chairman, Arpad Busson said:  “Tonight is the culmination of an extraordinary decade for ARK and its programmes. None of us dreamed ten years ago that we could achieve so much.

“Our achievements would not have been possible without the extraordinary support of our donors, sponsors, patrons and friends. We thank you each and every one of them for their incredible generosity. I also want to offer special thanks to our sponsors, BlueCrest, Bloomberg, Espirito Santo Investment Bank and Marshall Wace, without whom this evening, and all that it enables us to do, would not be possible.

“We thank also for their remarkable support and generosity, Kevin Spacey, Tom Ford, Anna Wintour, Elena Ambrosiadou, Harvey Weinstein and Eric Fellner.”

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