The annual London Diwali Dinner in support of the Loomba Trust, traditionally co-hosted by the Mayor of London and the business organisation London First, took place at the Mansion House in the City of London Guests at the glittering occasion were received by the Immediate Past Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Sir David Brewer, and addressed by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, who was the guest of honour.
The Mansion House was packed to capacity for this key date in the London calendar to see the Mayor, Loomba Trust chairman Raj Loomba and other dignitaries light the Diwali lamps – this year celebrating the tenth anniversary of the charity which has transformed the lives of thousands of widows’ families in India and drawn attention to the plight of widows as an urgent global issue.
Tribute was paid at the dinner to former Indian High Commissioner Dr Laxmi Mal Singhvi, who passed away in Delhi earlier this month (6 OCT). Dr Singhvi was instrumental in helping Raj Loomba establish the Loomba Trust in 1997 and was for ten years the Chairman Trustee of the charity’s Indian arm.
London’s celebration of India’s national festival attracts a great deal of attention in the sub-continent and Indian TV covered the event live channel MATV. Living Bollywood legend Dev Anand used the occasion to launch his book, called ‘Romancing with Dev Anand’. Other prominent guests included Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, Liberal peer Lord Dholakia, Cobra beer founder Lord Bilimoria and the renowned Bollywood film producer Ravi Chopra.
Mike Tobin, chief executive of Telecity Group and chairman of the Friends of the Loomba Trust, appealed to guests to educate at least one child of a poor widow in India for one year and other fundraising activities included a raffle and auction, raising altogether £250,000 on the evening. Of this, £25,000 was donated to the Safer London Foundation and the remaining £225,000 will go towards the education of 3,600 children of poor widows being supported by the Loomba Trust in India.