Scotland’s children’s charity Aberlour has celebrated its 140th anniversary, in a glittering reception with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The organisation, which is the largest solely Scottish children’s charity, welcomed more than 250 supporters, funders and those who use the charity’s services, to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on Tuesday (1 December 2015).
The First Minister gave a powerful speech about Aberlour’s work before a program of entertainment got underway, including a performance by a children’s choir and showing of short films by a BAFTA winning filmmaker.
Aberlour Chief Executive SallyAnn Kelly said: “We were honoured to welcome the First Minister to our celebrations this week, to share our special milestone with us, and we were heartened by her warm words of support and congratulations.
“Aberlour has been delivering high quality care and support to the most vulnerable children and young people in Scotland since 1875, and we will continue to strive to achieve our vision, which is to transform the lives of the children and families we work with, and through this, contribute to building a fairer, more equal society.
“We will continue to work with and challenge government when necessary, to ensure that the vulnerable children and families in our communities, have the best chances to achieve their own personal goals.”
The First Minister launched the evening’s proceedings by presenting Aberlour with its recently awarded Investors In People – Gold award, along with IIP Chief Executive Peter Russian.
Opening remarks from Aberlour Chair Valerie Surgenor gave an account of the charity’s rich history, which originated as an orphanage in the Speyside village of the same name.
Next, the First Minister paid tribute to the outstanding contribution Aberlour has made to caring for children. She also thanked Aberlour for its expertise and engagement with the Scottish Government over changes to the Children & Young People (Scotland) Bill 2014, which saw the age of care being raised to 21, with a further opportunity to receive support until 26.
A highlight of the evening was a lively musical performance from a 30-strong choir of children made up of those who were born in Scotland, as well as those who have made it their home – including African, Romany, Polish, Czech, Iraqi and Afghani children.
The youngsters, who had never performed in front of an audience before, sang a self –penned song called One Scotland, about sharing their country with one another.
All are part of Aberlour Youthpoint – Glasgow, a project which carries out street work in areas of social deprivation, with a particular focus on tackling gang culture and reducing violence.
The audience were also treated to a series of short films, shot by BAFTA winning documentary maker Garry Fraser, who grew up in care and spent some of that time in Aberlour Sycamore Service.
He returned to work with Aberlour this summer, by capturing the stories of children, young people and families supported by the charity, all of whom attended the celebration event.
Following the evening’s entertainment, the First Minister spent time meeting with the charity’s beneficiaries and posing for selfies.
Following the event, she tweeted: “An absolute privilege to be part of @AberlourCCT birthday celebrations tonight. 140 years transforming the lives of young people. Thank you!”