I Believe I can fly

WITH THE general theme of ‘You Can Be a Winner’ the Jack Petchey Foundation award ceremony held on Wednesday, November 15, at the Montechorro Hotel in Albufeira began after a stunning laser show.

In a room filled to capacity, 300 young people from all walks of life, along with relatives and friends, waited expectantly to be called up to the podium to receive their medals and framed certificates of achievement.

An air of excitement and energy pervaded the room as Helen Fennell, Jack Petchey’s representative in the Algarve, took to the podium with a broad smile and started the evening’s proceedings by introducing the many dignitaries present.

When Helen eventually introduced Jack Petchey OBE and invited the 82-year-old to join her on the stage the applause was deafening.

Jack, a self-made man born in the East End of London, left school at the age of 14 to become a multi millionaire. His career in car sales then property development not only amassed a fortune, but also won him the respect of fellow businessmen.

He is determined that wherever possible he will use his money to make life easier for young people to aim for and achieve their goals.

In his brief speech he never stopped emphasising what a better place the world would be if we all went to bed at night knowing that we had reached out to help somebody during the day.

Jack Petchey started his foundation in London in 1999 and, by the end of 2006 expects to be contributing to 1,000 schools. By the end of 2005, the foundation had already given 20 million pounds sterling in grants. In 1994, the foundation started helping young people in the Albufeira area and has now stretched further a field to Loulé and Silves.

Many schools, clubs and associations have applied for and been granted funds, to further their work with young people aged 12 to 25 and, in between presentations we were treated to samples of some of the high standard of work achieved by these youngsters.

Talent on show

The opening included a dance by the teenagers of Gaivota, part of the Santa Casa de Misericordia care home in Albufeira, before we were treated to a sample of self-defence techniques from the Casa Povo São B. de Messines.

The ballroom dancing performed by students of  Luis Pica and Elsa Costa-Assoc. Luel Arte em Movimento (Art in Movement) was sensational, worthy of winning any Strictly Come Dancing television show and a young lady sang Black Velvet with astonishing maturity and stage presence.

The Associaçao Soul ended the evening by encouraging everyone to join in the appropriately named I can Fly, to mark the end of another remarkable year of achievements.

A truly rewarding evening to watch made possible by a truly generous man.

SUBMITTED: Jenny Grainer