HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO was the guest of honour at a special event hosted by Foundation of Light Chair of Trustees Sir Bob Murray CBE to raise awareness of the proposed Beacon of Light project in Sunderland.
The Beacon of Light will become the permanent home of the Foundation of Light, allowing the organisation to expand its reach and work with more local people in a greater variety of ways to address the health and wellbeing, education and employment agendas.
The purpose-built facility will house classrooms, a versatile hall that can be used for sports and other community events and a range of multi-purpose rooms for young people as well as a number of floodlit outdoor junior football pitches.
The project is being spearheaded by Sir Bob Murray CBE, the former Chairman of Sunderland AFC and Chair of Trustees for Foundation of Light, who was the driving force behind the construction of the Stadium of Light, Academy of Light and St. George’s Park – the national football centre for all England football teams.
The Countess of Wessex, who became the charity’s Royal Patron in 2003, was joined at the dinner at the Stadium of Light by key Foundation supporters and Trustees, including journalist Kate Adie OBE DL, architect George Clarke, Olympian and broadcaster Steve Cram MBE and award-winning lyricist Sir Tim Rice.
As part of the visit children and adults from across the charity’s range of life-changing programmes demonstrated the many activities that will be available at the Beacon of Light.
Speaking at the event HRH The Countess of Wessex said: “Whenever I tell people about the Foundation, they are always impressed and can see that it makes so much sense. In ten years a lot can happen and it has. Since opening the Centre of Light, which I believe was my first duty as royal patron, thousands of youngsters and adults have accessed learning opportunities thanks to the Foundation.
Awards, pioneering partnerships and an approach to addressing the regions challenges has put the Foundation at the forefront of community engagement nationally.
Now the charity has become more of a social enterprise with huge scope, whilst retaining its core activities and has increased its work to cover everybody from preschool children to great grandparents demonstrating the Foundation’s ability to adapt to need and demand.
“It is this need and demand which means we are not only in danger of, but are outgrowing our current home and the last thing we want is to turn our backs on anyone.
“This is why the idea of the Beacon of Light has been created. An ambitious project but one that will allow the organisation to increase its impact and reach substantially and demonstrates our determination to support as many people as possible in need of our help.”
Sir Bob Murray CBE added: “The Countess of Wessex has been a fantastic supporter of the Foundation over the years and we are delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness to an event focussed on the iconic Beacon of Light project.
“Ten years ago the Countess of Wessex opened the Centre of Light and a decade later and we are discussing a UK first, a new development that will greatly enhance the reach and impact of the Foundation’s work in the region.”