Tony Matharu talking to James Gilley, social motivator, and his father.
Grange St Paul's Hotel was delighted to welcome through its doors the 100 people who were rightly acknowledged on the altruistic Independent on Sunday's Happy List 2014. Now in its seventh year, Grange Hotels were thrilled to host the first party to celebrate those who, without thought of personal gain, give back and help others, rather than themselves. Founded as an antidote to all the rich lists and celebrity lists, The Happy List is a true measurement of wealth, in its emotional and fulfilling sense: being sated with 'happy' feelings from acts of kindness, charity, entrepreneurship for philanthropic gain, volunteering, raising money and caring for wildlife.
It was a truly celebratory atmosphere attending by young and old who almost seemed surprised that a party had been thrown for them, hosted by a luxury hotel group and organised by a national newspaper. These rather amazing individuals - ranging from a couple who set up a bereavement service for parents who have lost a baby (now, as they tell me, launching into two new continents!) to a 93-year-old who has raised more than £100,000 for Age UK by dressing as a bee - by their nature, are not generally attention-seekers which is why The Independent on Sunday rightly thought they should be recognised.
Lisa Markwell, Editor of The Independent on Sunday, Nick Hurd MP and Tony Matharu, Managing Director of Grange Hotels all gave inspirational speeches to an audience still seemingly blinking in their new limelight. They are the 'alumni' as Lisa Markwell said - the first to have their own official party and meet each other. It was truly heartening to hear the snippets of 'happy' successes as the attendees chatted to each other amongst canapes and wine.
This inaugural event has found its home and Grange Hotels look forward very much to welcoming these selfless, awe-inspiring individuals under our roof in 2015. A post-humous and poignant acknowledgement was made to the brave teenager, Stephen Sutton, who sadly died just before the list was published. His mother was in attendance.