Michael Hockney MBE, Co-Chairman and Founder of The Lord Mayor’s Platinum Jubilee Big Curry, reveals the date of the 2022 event in what promises to be a very special year.
The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch Committee owes William and Hilary Russell a big ‘thank you’ for their involvement during the two years when we didn’t have a Guildhall Curry Lunch. It might seem strange to thank them in these circumstances. However, they were heavily involved in putting together and delivering the unique 2021 Virtual Lunch, our response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thank you both.
In late September, I welcomed Alderman Vincent Keaveny as my co-chairman and his wife, Amanda, to the Committee. The Lord Mayor has been involved in the Curry Lunch for some years and has, over recent months, played a key role in planning the 2022 Lunch. The Committee hopes that the Lord Mayor, the Lady Mayoress and the Sheriffs and their Consorts will have a memorable time in office.
A NEW NAME FOR THE LUNCH IN A VERY SPECIAL YEAR
On 7th April 2022, a very special event will take place in Guildhall. Yes, it is the fifteenth time we will have gathered to raise funds to support veterans. But it is much more than that.
The Lord Mayor and I are delighted that we have been given permission to call the 2022 Lunch ‘The Lord Mayor’s Platinum Jubilee Big Curry’ to mark The Queen’s Accession to The Throne seventy years ago and her extraordinary service to the United Kingdom and to the Commonwealth.
Her Majesty is, of course, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. She receives regular updates on the Lunch and how it has developed over the years.
In every way we can, the 2022 Lunch is going to mark this happy anniversary and extraordinary milestone in the life of our Queen and our Nation.
RESPONDING TO NEED
Since 2008, the Committee has worked hard to develop the Lunch not only to build its effectiveness as an income generator in support of veterans but also to increase understanding of the role of the military and awareness of the needs of veterans and their families.
From 2008 to 2017 the Lunch supported only veterans from the Army. In 2018, we widened the scope of the Lunch to include all veterans of all the Armed Forces of The Crown through their National Service Charities: ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.
A NEW FOCUS ON EMPLOYMENT
In 2018 and 2019, three things came together quite rapidly to create a new focus for the Lunch.
The first: the development of the Civic and Mayoral long-term strategy of ‘A Better City For All’ and the strand within that to do with employment and employability.
The second: the three national service charities’ increasing focus on helping veterans into employment.
The third: hearing about an impressive new initiative which helps prepare veterans for life in the civilian world.
As a result, the Lord Mayor and I and our Committee agreed that the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch was, from 2019, going to provide financial support for individual veterans to take part in a six-month programme – the Pain Management Programme (PMP) – at the King Edward VII’s Hospital’s Centre for Veterans’ Health.
This programme is designed for veterans suffering from physical or psychological pain or both, to learn to manage their pain and, as a result, be able to obtain and hold down employment.
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19
In 2020 and 2021 we faced the challenges forced on us by the Covid-19 Virus.
The 2020 Lunch was cancelled but still raised £167,000 through the generosity of sponsors and ticket buyers who simply said ‘put our contributions to good use’.
For 2021 in response to the continuing pandemic, we developed a totally virtual fundraising programme over three months from February to April. There were thirteen different parts to the Virtual Programme, enabled by the latest technology. The use of social media for the first time took our programme and our messages about veterans to millions of people in the United Kingdom.
At the Reception hosted by the Lord Mayor’s in September of this year, William Russell announced that we had beaten his target and had raised £205,000. A wonderful result, thanks to the efforts of so many, including over fifty Livery Companies and some very generous sponsors from the business community. Thank you all.
That means that, over the last three years, we have been able to fund fifty-four veterans through the Pain Management Programme.
In total, the Committee has handed over £2.55 million to the three national service charities since 2008.
These are still tough times for veterans, as they are for many in this country seeking re-skilling and employment. So, for 2022 we are continuing to focus our support on veterans into employment.
Alongside funding up to 15 veterans through the PMP at a cost of £100,000, we are also supporting a new – to us – employment-related charity. It’s called LifeWorks.
LifeWorks’ sole focus is to find employment, education and training for veterans from all the Services and their families. It offers practical advice, guidance and support regardless of length of military service. It is available nationwide, wherever veterans live.
The LifeWorks team is made up of highly-experienced career coaches and vocational assessors, helping veterans decide on career and training opportunities and develop job search and cv writing skills. Each course costs £1,500 but is always free of charge to the veterans taking part.
Through the 2022 Lunch we hope to fund 65 veterans through a LifeWorks course at a total cost of £100,000.
Anything else we raise will go to the three national service charities to further their work in helping veterans into employment.
THE LORD MAYOR’S TARGET FOR 2022
At the first Committee meeting for the 2022 Lunch, the Lord Mayor announced his financial target for 2022: £270,000 (note the ’70’; it had to be in there!). It’s a tough target, but everyone reading this can help reach it.
To find out the ways in which you can help, including buying tickets, visit the brand-new Platinum Jubilee Big Curry website: soldierscharity.org/lordmayors.
If we can raise £200,000 – no, I’m not going to write that – I am going to say that the first £200,000 we raise will fund eighty veterans to go on either the Pain Management Programme or a LifeWorks programme in 2022. If we can do that, we will have played our part in helping to transform eighty veterans’ lives and those of their families.
What a privilege to be able to support those who are prepared to put themselves in harm’s way in the service of our Nation.
Thank you all for your support for the 2022 Lord Mayor’s Platinum Jubilee Big Curry. I look forward to seeing you on 7th April.
Michael Hockney MBE
Junior Warden, The Musicians Company
Co-Chairman and Founder, The Lord Mayor’s Big Curry