TV pair to present a celebration of women as charities target a bigger lunchtime audience

Familiar faces from daytime TV will take to the stage next month to launch a new fundraising event devised by two of the region’s leading charities.

Louise Minchin

Broadcaster, journalist and TV presenter Louise Minchin will be the guest speaker at the Ladies Lunch, which is being organised by the Sailors’ Children’s Society and HEY Smile Foundation.

She will be joined by Caroline Hawley, a partner in Hawleys Auctioneers of Beverley and known nationwide as an antiques expert for her appearances on the BBC TV shows Flog It! and Bargain Hunt.

The occasion, which will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Hull on Friday 15 March, becomes a stablemate of the Society’s hugely successful, serial sell-out “Sportsman’s Lunch”, but organisers insist it will be very different.

Natasha Barley, CEO of the Society, said: “It will be a celebration of women, female empowerment and enjoying an inspirational afternoon with women and men celebrating together. There is more focus now on women in leadership and recognising women’s achievements and this event will help to do that. The event will be open to all, just like the Sportsman’s Lunch which last year attracted the biggest turnout of women so far.”

Tessa Wray, Head of Partnerships at HEY Smile Foundation, added: “This is a great event to be involved with, and something different to other events we deliver. We are very big on corporate engagement and coming up with events which are a little different, engaging, and memorable. Our two charities working in partnership, sharing resources, and raising funds together is a great demonstration of collaboration, which is important to us.”

The Society was founded more than 200 years ago and works nationally to support the disadvantaged children from the merchant navy, Royal Navy, the offshore wind industry, fishing fleets and inland waterways. It helps the children of families in crisis experiencing bereavement, family breakdown or diagnosis of a life limiting or terminal illness and all our families are experiencing financial hardship.

Caroline Hawley

HEY Smile Foundation, is a local infrastructure charity, empowering charities, people, and communities across Hull and East Yorkshire. By bringing ideas, people, and resources together, Smile leads the way on community voice and insight, health, and digital development to find solutions to voluntary sector challenges.

Smile supports frontline organisations, helping them to grow, develop and become sustainable, including organisations in crisis trying to meet the increasing demand and pressures on their services, especially in the current climate.

The Ladies Lunch emerged from the recognition that although the Sportsman’s Lunch delivers more money every year – up from £55,000 in 2022 to £75,000 last year – it sells out more than a year in advance.

Natasha said: “Capacity is just under 700 and we hit that every year. There are many more who want to attend but who just can’t get in, so we came up with the idea of another event which offers something different. We can’t compare it with the Sportsman’s Lunch because that’s been going since 1995 but we’re promoting it among our corporate and community contacts and we’re getting a good response.”

Tessa added: “It takes place during Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day is the week before, so the date complements the event perfectly. The aim is to raise funds and awareness of our two charities to continue our vital work, whilst providing inspiration, fun and an enjoyable afternoon for our guests.”

Both charities are confident that the combination of Louise Minchin as guest speaker and Caroline Hawley as auctioneer will help to cement the event in the fundraising calendar and support exciting new initiatives.

The event is sponsored by The Seafarers’ Charity, Gosschalks Solicitors, Summit Drive and Be Brand.

Deborah Layde, Chief Executive of The Seafarers’ Charity, said: “We have long supported Sailors’ Children’s Society in their vital work; our first grant to SCS was in 1918! Their support of seafaring families in need is still just as relevant.

“The Hull community’s historic, practical and financial support has been generously given for many, many years – the Ladies’ Lunch is a natural next step from the Sportsmen’s Lunch.” 

Steve Savage, a Partner at Gosschalks, said: “The partners at Gosschalks are delighted to sponsor this inaugural Ladies Lunch supporting these two brilliant charities whilst championing the role that females play in powering the local economy.”

Annabel Walker, Operations Director, Summit Drive, said: “We are thrilled to be a main sponsor of the inaugural Ladies Lunch. This is a one of a kind event in the region and we wanted to back it from its inception so that the first event is amazing and to help it grow year on year. We know the work of Sailors’ Children’s Society and the Smile Foundation makes a huge difference in people’s lives across the region.”  

For more information about the event and to donate auction prizes and raffle prizes. please contact Natasha Barley CEO of Sailors’ Children’s Society or Tessa Wray Head of Partnerships at the Smile Foundation