THE streets of London were paved green and white on Wednesday evening as more than 1,300 attendees packed the prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane to honour the Lisbon Lions.
On a night of euphoric splendour, the Lisbon Lions London Dinner saw a joyous commemoration of the legendary 1967 squad, Jock Stein and his management team and the single greatest achievement in Scottish sporting history. All proceeds from the evening will be supporting the Foundation’s #LionsLegacy fundraising campaign and community programmes.
The London Dinner will provide funding for particular Celtic FC Foundation work as part of #LionsLegacy, principally: Community Care for Dementia, the 67 Kitchens initiative in partnership with Mary’s Meals, the long-standing Ability Counts project for young people with Autism and Down’s Syndrome, the Foundation’s work with young people in Tower Hamlets, London, through the Breaking Barriers project; and the Forgotten Irish programme for elderly citizens in West London in partnership with the Ireland Fund of Great Britain and the Irish Cultural Centre.
The audience were given a poignant glimpse of the importance of the Foundation’s work as ‘Ability Counts Autism’ parent, Sarah O’Reilly, shared her children’s journey of positive change through the Ability Counts programme. You could have heard a pin drop when Sarah addressed the packed Great Room at the Grosvenor to tell her family’s story.
Glasgow headteachers Jean Miller (Smithycroft Secondary) and Gerry Lyons (St Andrew’s Secondary) were presented with Local Hero awards by the Foundation for their outstanding commitment to supporting young people in Glasgow’s East End.
Jean and Gerry were joined on stage by two former pupils Elise Prentice (Smithycroft) who has recently been accepted to study at Glasgow School of Art and Jack Wands (St Andrew’s) the first pupil from his school to attend Oxford University.
Co-hosted by the evening’s own Invincibles – Eddie Jordan and Elaine C. Smith – the event drew tremendous support from some of the most revered figures in Celtic’s history. Present, were seven of the original 16-man squad of Lions, plus representatives from the other nine members, as well as the Stein, Fallon and Mochan families.
Throughout, there were appearances from Elaine and Eddie and a venerable cast of entertainers including Peter Martin and Andy Cameron who leant their support on hosting, comedy, music and auctions.
Musical offerings were also in abundance with Simple Minds, Susan Boyle and Royal Conservatoire soprano sensation Julia Daramy-Williams regaling the audience in song. Celtic FC Foundation would also like to thank Terry Dick (son of iconic singer Glen Daly, author/performer of The Celtic Song) for his kind support and his toast to ‘Absent Friends’.
With 12 Celtic Supporters’ Clubs (Camden Bhoys, Hayes Bhoys, Luton, Maidenhead, Martin O’Neill Reading, North West London, Ramsgate Emerald, Spirit of ’67, St. Patrick’s CSC, West London, Underground and Wimbledon) in attendance, the palatial interior of the Grosvenor House Hotel radiated Celtic, as crests, banners and emblems donned walls, bannisters and columns. The 12 CSCs were some 400-strong on the evening and played a major role in the event planning which began in July of last year.
Moreover, the sense of occasion was typified by the illuminating spectacle of a Celtic video tunnel, projecting images and sounds of that heady night in Lisbon.
We doubt that an event at the Grosvenor House Hotel has ever been concluded with such a jubilant throng of community singing, with Liam McGrandles capping off the night Kerrydale style.
Celtic FC Foundation would like to sincerely thank the London Dinner Committee for their expertise and complete commitment in co-ordinating this event, as well those who generously donated auctions lots and prizes and gave up their time to ensure the Lisbon Lions London Dinner was a rapturous success.
Tony Hamilton, Chief Executive of Celtic FC Foundation, said: “Special thanks to our event partners at Watches of Switzerland, Wm Grant Foundation, Fleet Alliance, Cantrell & Cochrane, Creditfix and You-Are-The-Ref.com.
“Thanks also to Gerard Burns, James Ferguson, Michael Flatley, Antony Gormley, Paul Trevillion, Jack Vettriano and David Yarrow, whose art adorned the event and contributed significantly to the fundraising.
“The 1300+ who attended had a night to remember and the Grosvenor House will never see another event like this for a long time. We set out to honour the Lions and their families and it is uplifting to hear their warm feedback about the evening. They have asked us to thank everyone who contributed to the event.
“The event has been a success at every level and we look forward to communicating the positive outcomes which will flow from the proceeds of the event.”
Celtic FC Foundation will make a further announcement regarding the total sums raised for #LionsLegacy shortly.