23 months in the planning all came to fruition on Tuesday 9th October, when 250 people gathered at Etz Chaim Synagogue hall to attend Leeds WIZO’s Gala Dinner to celebrate 100 years of WIZOUK.

The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress were in attendance, along with WIZOUKChairperson Ronit Ribak Madari. Sheilagh and Michael Venn opened the evening and Guests of Honour were Debbie and Adam Cutler and Andrea and Daniel Lee.

Barrister and television personality, Judge Robert Rinder, was the guest speaker and delighted the audience by informally going round the tables, meeting and having photos taken with guests.

In his speech, he told the story of how he got to where he is today and how much he enjoys giving back to charity. He spoke of his love for WIZO and the impact it has had on people’s lives across Israel, making such a positive difference.

Rinder concluded by remarking on the profound pride he has in supporting WIZO and that he’ll leave with a strong impression of how much it is a ‘labour of love’. Guests experienced a wonderful evening and left with a much deeper knowledge of how the vital the funds are used.

The fundraising focus for WIZOUK’s centenary year is the £1.8 million required for   vital refurbishment of the School of Dreams. The school supports over 100 teenagers in years 9-12, most of whom arrive with severe emotional and behavioural problems.

With WIZO’s unique experience and passion, students are able to complete their mainstream education with over 90% of graduates accepted into the IDF, a vital step for their future careers. The school also provides a team of dedicated psychologists, counsellors and social workers enabling these vulnerable teenagers to become fulfilled individuals and contributing citizens.

Three vocational tracks are available: music and sound production, culinary studies and hairdressing. Students also participate in weekly enrichment activities, giving them a real sense of self-worth.

Leeds Fundraising Executive and Co-ordinator,Deidre Cline, said: “All of our guests enjoyed a fantastic evening celebrating the incredible achievements of WIZOUKover the past 100 years. We are proud to be involved with a charity that touches people’s lives in so many ways across Israel, helping to change their lives and build their futures. I’d like to thank the entire dinner committee for their hard work over the past 2 years in preparation for the dinner and to all of our guests, in particular (Judge) Rinder, who was such a charming and delightful speaker. We are thrilled to have raised such a large amount for the School of Dreams, as this is at the core of everything we do.”

For more information about WIZO and the School of Dreams project, please call: 0113 268 4773 or email: leeds@wizouk.org