The region’s largest entrepreneurial network, the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, has exceeded its annual fundraising target by raising almost £40,000 during its 20th anniversary dinner last night.

The Forum, which was founded in 2002 by Sir Peter Vardy and Lorna Moran OBE, had revealed its £20,000 fundraising target at the beginning of the year, a sum to mark its 20th anniversary.

During its birthday celebrations held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead last night, guests supported the fundraiser by engaging in a silent auction and through direct donations to charities and good causes, where every pound raised to the value of £10,000 was match funded by an anonymous donor.

Funds from the silent auction will support Business Beats Cancer Newcastle and The Prince’s Trust Women Supporting Women campaign, the Forum’s nominated charities for 2022.

Speaking about the fundraiser, Entrepreneurs’ Forum CEO Elaine Stroud said, “It was a brilliant event last night and raising nearly £40,000 is overwhelming.

“The funds will support vital work, from lifesaving cancer research to life-changing work with young women.”

Guests on the evening heard from Nicky McKenna, Relationship Manager at Cancer Research UK, who detailed the work of Business Beats Cancer Newcastle and their research into over 200 different types of cancer.

Elaine continued, “Business Beats Cancer Newcastle is a new initiative launched in 2021 by Cancer Research, who are also celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2022.

“This is a special charity to us as our former CEO, Jonathan Lamb, passed away earlier this year after a short battle with cancer.

“This disease is devastating to all those affected. With Business Beats Cancer Newcastle’s work, we’re closer to finding effective treatments and their lifesaving work is based here, in the North East.”

To support their nominated charities further, the Forum team are now preparing for their charity challenge, a 27 mile walk around Kielder Water on Saturday 2nd July.

The walk is the Forum’s final charity activity for the year following the success of last night’s anniversary dinner.

Hosted by presenter Kim Inglis, the anniversary dinner saw the Forum’s co-founders, Sir Peter Vardy and Lorna Moran OBE, share their favourite moments from the Forum’s history.

Guests were also treated to interviews with previous board members and longstanding members, hearing from the likes of Nigel Mills CBE of the Lakes Distillery; Keith Miller of Miller Groundbreaking; Tom Maxfield of Tom’s Companies; former Sage CEO Paul Walker and Paul Callaghan CBE of Leighton Group.

Elaine continued, “It was wonderful to see that our founding members remain so passionate about encouraging other North East entrepreneurs to thrive. We are immensely proud of the support we’ve given to so many business owners and as we enter our next 20 years we want to increase our impact by inspiring more entrepreneurs to start and scale their businesses right here in the region”.

The dinner was supported by Agilico, Blu Sky Tax, Brewin Dolphin, Inspired HR Group, ION, Lumo, Malhotra Group, Peacocks Medical Group, Qrious, The SDDE Smith Group, Square One Law and Ward Hadaway.