A LUNCH held at Badgemore Park in Henley raised £13,000 for a charity which helps women back into the workplace.
About 100 women attended the sold-out event in aid of Smart Works Reading, which offers styling and interview coaching for women returning to work.
The guests enjoyed talks on fashion and dressing for the workplace by Australian designer Donna Ida, who specialises in denim and owns several shops in London, Nayna McIntosh, who runs the clothing brand Hope Fashion, and style writer and consultant Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey.
They also heard from a former client of the charity who had been struggling but was helped to secure a job and is now launching a newspaper for Reading’s Afro-Caribbean community.
There was an auction with prizes including style consultations, tickets to the Henley Festival, Cool Britannia festival, the English National Ballet and a Manchester United home fixture, a five-day stay in a French holiday home and a Louisa Parris Noe silk dress.
Afterwards, guests could buy jewellery, clothing, toiletries and other gifts from stallholders, all of whom donated 10 per cent of takings. There was also a raffle and “magic tree” where women could win vouchers for restaurants, spas and hairdressers.
Sarah Burns, who chairs Smart Works Reading, said: “It was a wonderful day with a friendly, welcoming vibe and everyone I’ve spoken to has said how much they enjoyed attending and supporting the work we do.
“It was wonderful that one of our clients had the pride and confidence to come and share her experiences.”
Organiser and Smart Works Trustee Maggie McMillan, from Henley, said: “This was our fourth similar annual fund-raising event, each one slightly different and bigger and better than the last.
“This year we raised £13,000, an amazing total achieved with outstanding support from local businesses and friends which will be invaluable in helping us to grow our outreach programme.”
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