Cherie Booth QC, hosted a reception in the 15th century Lincoln's Inn Old Hall, last Wednesday, in aid of the Redemptorist Vocational School for the Disabled, in Pattaya, Thailand. Among the 250 guests were Bishop Charles Henderson, Mr Bansarn Bunnag, Charge d'Affaires at the Royal Thai Embassy in London, representing the Thai ambassador; Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Britain's leading wheelchair athlete and Saowalak Thongkuay, director of the school. During her opening speech, the wife of the Prime Minister, commented that St Thomas More had worked in the hall. "I always think of him when I come here," she said. "I am sure he would have approved of your work and support the friendship between Thailand and Britain." Ms Booth said she has several happy associations with Thailand. In 1980 the Blairs spent their honeymoon there. John Moore University where she is chancellor, has worked on several projects in Thailand over the past 25 years - the most recent one being forensic work after the tsunami. Finally, she said: "My third connection with Thailand was last April when I met two students from Pattaya who took part in the London Marathon. They were a brilliant advertisement for the school. I was so impressed with their zest for life and enthusiasm to repay the school for the support they had been given - by making a full contribution to Thailand and the wider world." Speaking about the founder of the school, the late Fr Ray Brennan, she said: "Fr Ray was the best kind of parish priest you can imagine." A Redemptorist priest, the late Fr Ray Brennan devoted his life to setting up a number of projects in Pattaya which now provide a loving home, education and support to over 700 orphaned and neglected children and disabled young people. There are also schools for deaf and blind children, projects for street children and children with HIV/Aids. The Girls Vocational school currently provides training and job placements for 35 young women, alongside the Boy's school which has 165 students. The first of its kind in Thailand, the school has four departments: Electronics, Computers, Computer Business Management with English and a new one soon to open: training students to build state-of-the art Mecatronic Robots. The aim of the school is to enable people with disabilities, to re-integrate into societies, find careers and become independent. Every graduate to date has found a job or started their own business. With the new appeal, the charity hopes to develop the school to take 100 female students with a new building with better disabled facilities, more classrooms, dormitories and a library. Endorsing the project, Ms Booth said: "I feel passionately about equal education for girls and am very happy to give you my support." For more information about the charity see: www.pattayaorphanage.org.uk
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