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Our previous President

Cherie Booth

Cherie Booth with toddlers

Cherie Booth QC completed six years as Barnardo’s President in the autumn of 2007.

Ms Booth was first appointed as Barnardo’s President in 2001 for a fixed three-year term. In 2004, this was extended for another three years, to complete in 2007.

As President, Ms Booth has provided outstanding support to Barnardo’s, selflessly giving time to visit child care projects across the UK. She has been to family centres, youth justice services, cafes, homeless projects and Christmas parties and has always been a popular visitor with her friendly, relaxed manner.

Ms Booth said, ‘It has been a huge privilege to serve as Barnardo's President for the last six years. It has given me a chance to see first hand the wonderful work that Barnardo’s does across the country and the impact it has on the lives of tens of thousands of children, young people and families.
‘I am delighted to learn that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall is to succeed me. Barnardo’s could not have a better President and I know she will do a fantastic job when she takes up her new role this autumn.
‘I am also pleased that I will be able to continue an association with Barnardo's through my appointment as their Honorary Vice President.’

Since 2001, Ms Booth has supported Barnardo's on many occasions. She has visited our projects across the UK, meeting some of the 110,000 children, young people and families we work with directly. She has spent time with those who volunteer, and has met staff from across the organisation. Ms Booth has also hosted and attended fundraising events, given speeches at conferences and hosted receptions at Downing Street.

‘I greatly admire and appreciate the contribution Cherie has made to Barnardo’s,’ said Martin Narey, Chief Executive. ‘Cherie is a successful barrister and speaker and could have commanded a substantial income for activities associated with her work. However, time and time again, she has given her time generously and freely to us, without hesitation.

‘Cherie’s support has been invaluable and without her help, we would not have been able to secure such a large income from donations. More significantly the positive impact Cherie has had on the children, young people and families she has met in our projects has been immense.

‘We are delighted Cherie will continue her involvement with us as she has agreed to become Barnardo’s first Honorary Vice President on completion of her term of office.’

Visits to Barnardo’s projects and offices

Cherie Booth visiting a project

Ms Booth has visited many Barnardo’s projects over the past six years. Following her visit to High Close School, she has met children, young people and families at projects including 16+ in Edinburgh, PACT (Parent and Child Together) in Belfast, Action with Young Carers in Liverpool, Windsor Avenue Family Centre in Northern Ireland, Cardiff’s Marlborough Road project, the Blackpool Project, The Hive in Tyne & Wear, the Young Women’s Project and Families in Temporary Accommodation (FiTA), both in London, Tuar Ceatha service in Belfast, and the ARCH Project in the Midlands.

Ms Booth made her first visit to head office at Barkingside in July 2003. During her visit, Ms Booth had the opportunity to mingle with staff on what used to be the village green of the site when it was the Girls’ Village Home.

In June 2006, Ms Booth visited the Yorkshire regional office, visiting local projects.

Ms Booth visited Manchester’s Cheetham Hill shop in September 2006, then showed her support for Make a Difference Day a month later with a visit to the Gerrard’s Cross shop, trying out tasks such as designing window displays and steaming stock. ‘I really want to help encourage people to volunteer,’ said Ms Booth during the day. ‘It may seem that a few hours won’t make much difference, but added together volunteers’ time contributes a vital £22.6 million a year to the work of charities.’

Fundraising events

In February 2002, Ms Booth joined world famous chef Ken Hom to host a Chinese New Year Banquet. The banquet, Ms Booth’s first fundraising event as President, raised a total of £19,000 for Barnardo’s.

Ms Booth also launched Barnardo’s biggest annual fundraising event, The Foresters Big Toddle, in June 2002. Young children toddled to Buckingham Palace where they were met by the Countess of Wessex at the event, which went on to raise an amazing £1 million in 2004. The Barnardo's Big Toddle, now generously supported by Lloyds TSB, continues to grow every year, and Ms Booth lent her support once again by launching the 2006 event, which raised over £1.1 million.

Cherie Booth launching the Tesco appeal

In 2003 Ms Booth helped launch Barnardo’s as Tesco Charity of the Year. The year-long campaign raised £2.5 million for Barnardo’s work providing vulnerable children and young people with the key building blocks needed for a happy and healthy future.

For her first visit to Scotland as President Ms Booth hosted a fundraising dinner in Edinburgh. The dinner was sponsored by leading UK law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn and raised £18,000 for Barnardo’s.

In 2005, Ms Booth hosted a special auction of ten limited edition Monopoly boards featuring Downing Street as the famous board game celebrated its 70th birthday, which raised more than £30,000 for Barnardo's.

Ms Booth has also hosted private dinners at Chequers and a Business Board Dinner at Old Battersea House.

Raising awareness

In September 2002 Ms Booth gave the inaugural Barbara Kahan Memorial Lecture on the theme of ‘Children’s rights in the 21st century’. Speaking to an invited audience in central London, Ms Booth covered key issues concerning children’s rights in the UK.

Ms Booth also spoke at the seminar ‘Improving the Protection of Children from Abuse: Perspectives from Poland and the UK’ in May 2004.

In 2005, Barnardo’s marked the centenary of Dr Barnardo’s death by celebrating the difference the charity continues to make to the lives of children and young people. During the year, Ms Booth launched the book Keeping the Vision Alive, took part in an interview for a special Songs of Praise programme broadcast in June, and delivered a speech at the Spencer House dinner to guests including Sir Cliff Richard. In addition, Ms Booth held a centenary appeal reception at Downing Street and attended Barnardo’s annual meeting, at which she made a speech.

In the same year, Ms Booth was a guest speaker at the launch of Meeting the needs of sexually exploited young people in London. The research, carried out by Barnardo’s and funded by the Bridge House Trust, found a shocking 1,000 young people in London are at risk of sexual exploitation.

Other events

Since becoming President in 2001, Ms Booth’s support has extended beyond visiting Barnardo’s projects and attending events. She has hosted two Christmas parties at Downing Street where children from our projects enjoyed a visit from Santa and received presents donated by Argos.

Cherie Booth with marathon runners

In April 2003 Ms Booth invited supporters and celebrities taking part in the Flora London Marathon to Downing Street for a final few words of encouragement.

Later in the year, Ms Booth presented certificates at the News of the World and Barnardo’s Children’s Champions Awards. Ms Booth has continued to support the event and present certificates every year since. In 2004 she was joined by her husband, Tony Blair.

Attending the Labour Party Conference in September 2004, Ms Booth found time in her busy schedule to meet young people attending the conference for Barnardo’s, being interviewed for a daily magazine they compiled. A year later, she met with young people from the CANDL project during the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

To celebrate her 50th birthday in September 2004, Ms Booth hosted a small reception for people nominated by the charities she supports.  Carol Brownlow, a volunteer from the Nottingham shop, was among the Barnardo’s group. ‘She shook hands with each of us and exchanged a few words,’ said Carol. ‘It was a lovely evening, with champagne and nibbles, and I felt thrilled to be there. It’s an evening I shall never forget.’

In 2006, Ms Booth supported Barnardo’s at a Toy Fair at London’s Excel Exhibition Centre and the Barnardo's Care and Hope Appeal in Scotland. Ms Booth also presented awards to Barnardo’s first celebrity ambassadors – model Laura Bailey, actresses Brenda Blethyn and Michelle Collins and England cricketer Kevin Pietersen, in recognition of their outstanding commitment and support.

If you would like to read more about all the good work that Ms Booth is involved please visit her personal website: www.cherieblair.org