The iconic Savoy Hotel was once again the venue for the black tie event which commenced with a Laurent-perrier Reception in the luxurious River Room, followed by a three course dinner, auction and dancing in the beautiful surroundings of the Lancaster Ballroom.
The main event, however, was the presentation to Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney for his ‘Contribution to Irish Cultural Life in the UK’. In her opening speech, Co-Chair of The Ireland Fund of Great Britain Ruth McCarthy, described Seamus Heaney as “a giant of Irish culture and indeed a man of the world”. Later, Zach Webb, the chair of the Winter Ball presented Seamus Heaney with his award. Seamus Heaney was presented with a beautiful hurricane vase donated by Galway Crystal. In his speech Seamus Heaney spoke of his relationship with the Worldwide Ireland Funds for four decades and his gratitude for their commitment to writers over that time. The auction was conducted by rugby legend Fergus Slattery.
Prizes that were kindly donated included a hand written poem by Seamus Heaney, a table for 10 at the BBC sports personality of the year awards, a Philip Treacy hat and artwork including pieces by Joy Garrard and Graham Knuttel. For the first time ever live charity pledges were included on the night. Andrew Hollingsworth spoke from The Passage, Bernie O’Rourke from Solas Women’s Aid and Kathryn McDowell from the Derry-Londonderry Cantata on helping raise extra funds for the charities supported by IFGB.
We would like to thank everyone for their generosity on the evening as well the committee who helped generate auction prizes. Acknowledgements and grateful thanks to; our headline sponsors san Leon and Coolmore; champagne reception sponsor Laurent-Perrier; wine sponsor DSM Demolition; flower sponsors Kiely Brothers; and water sponsors Fior Uisce, as well as all who donated prizes.