Rotary ball fundraiser supports children with special needs

By Ben Fitzgerald - 26 April 2019


Guests at the annual Rotary Club Charity Ball have funded life-changing improvements to special needs pupils in Swindon.

The annual ball, which returns to the Marriott Hotel this May for its 30th year, has raised more than £870,000 since it began.

The Uplands Trust, in partnership with the Uplands School on the Tadpole Garden Village, says the cash raised has made the world of difference to some of its most disabled pupils.

The school got £11,000 from the ball, which went on a piece of technology called an Eye Gaze to help non-verbal students communicate in class, and £6,000 to set up a community enterprise centre in Penhill.

Jackie Smith MBE, the CEO of the Uplands Trust, said: "You can see the difference it makes, it's very tangible.

"We have very disabled young people and it gives a voice to the students who don't have one.

"It's fascinating, because they can make eye contact with the screen, very much like Stephen Hawking.

"It's absolutely made the world of difference, it allows them to be engaged with the class, to communicate with their friends and contribute to lessons.

"It's been absolutely life-changing for them."

The community enterprise centre is staffed by paid employees with special needs and even runs events in the style of Come Dine With Me.

"It's a real enterprise initiative," added Jackie, "they have all sorts of jobs and roles at the enterprise centre. 

"It's about helping them help themselves."

There are only a few tables left, businesses can donate prizes for raffles if they can't attend.

The ball will be at the Marriott Hotel on Pipers Way on May 11.

It will be a Shanghai-themed affair, with a three course meal, cabaret, music and entertainment, a raffle, and a diamond draw from Deacons Jewellers.

Contact Sue Frawley on to buy tickets or for more information.

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