History was made by the Loomba Trust, as the first time ever Diwali, the Indian festival of lights was celebrated at the 800-year-old Guildhall in London.
The chief guest of the evening was the new High Commissioner for India, His Excellency Shri Nalin Surie, who earlier in the day had presented his letters of credence to the Queen, and his wife, Mrs. Surie, who were greeted by the Cherie Blair, the President of the Loomba Trust.
Guest of Honour, Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP, Foreign Secretary, was amongst 475 leaders of business and government at the dinner. The Foreign Secretary praised the work of the Loomba Trust and congratulated the Trust’s Founder and Chairman, Raj Loomba CBE, for his dedication and tireless efforts to raise awareness of the plight of poor widows and their children around the world.
The famous and charismatic Bollywood star, Preity Zinta, who this year won the best actress award at the Chicago International Film Festival for Deepa Mehta’s film Heaven and Earth, in which she played the role of a wife subjected to domestic violence, added a touch of glamour to the evening. Preity said she was honoured to be associated with such a prestigious charity and as her mother was widowed when she was only 13 years old, she fully understood the problems widows face in India and wanted to support the work of the Loomba Trust to alleviate the plight of widows in India and other countries. She accepted to become an International Ambassador of the Loomba Trust and made an appeal to the audience to join hands with her and support the charity.
The event, the Trust’s 11th charity gala dinner in the UK, raised over £400,000, which will enable the Trust to continue the education of 3000 children of poor widows in India and empower Rwanda’s 850 widows, including 500 genocide victims - where half of the male heads of all households lost their lives in the inter-tribal conflicts – by helping them set up small business co-operatives. This project will be run in association with Oxfam GB and The Mayor of Kigali.