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Ben Elton Delights Guests At Guildford Institute’s Celebration Evening

Published on: 24 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 25 Oct, 2013

Comedian, writer and director Ben Elton’s speech delighted guests at the Guildford Institute on Thursday evening at an event to celebrate its redevelopment.

Pictured in the library at the Guildford Institute, from left: Ben Elton, chairman Mike Adams, Anne Milton MP and librarian Pam King.

Pictured in the library at the Guildford Institute, from left: Ben Elton, chairman Mike Adams, Anne Milton MP and librarian Pam Keane.

The institute in Ward Street was packed with trustees, supporters, tutors, staff, volunteers, councillors and special guests that included Guildford MP Anne Milton, and Deputy Mayor David Elms.

Ben explained that his family moved to Guildford in 1968. He recalled his youth and education with fondness and great humour, also explaining how his parents (who were also at the celebration) have long been supporters of the Guildford Institute. He also spoke about the importance of history and heritage and made reference to next year and the marking of the 100th anniversary of the First World War. (See separate story that has more on Ben’s thoughts about Guildford).

Anne Milton spoke about the “truly magnificent” resource the Guildford Institute is. She said: “Young people need to grow up with skills – to be grounded and mature enough to make difficult choices with those complex decisions they are faced with.”

She added that a lot of that comes with information and knowledge, and remarked that when the Guildford Institute started in 1834, it was about knowledge. “And that is still what it is about.” she said. “I believe that individuals have far more power than they ever realise they have got. What’s important is to channel that power for the force of good.”

Anne mentioned that the Guildford Institute has around 1,300 learners, and offers then 100 different courses.

She ended her speech saying: “I raise my glass to those who have kept Guildford Institute going, which is literally about giving power to people.”

Trustees asss and Margaret Jack (far left and right) with Ben Elton and Anne Milton.

Trustees Lesley Scordellis and Margaret Jack (far left and right) with Ben Elton and Anne Milton.

The chairman of the Guildford Institute, Mike Adams, spoke about the project to construct the new lift and the work to build a new staircase and disabled toilets. He said  £180,000 of grants had been made by the Garfield Weston Foundation, Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council and the SITA Trust. He said further funding to improve the institute’s library was provided by a Biffa Award and in addition money for further improvements to create some extra space came via the Big Lottery Fund. Mike added that donations added a further £70,000.

He thanked the two trustees who had co-ordinated the fundraising, Lesley Scordellis and Margaret Jack, and paid tribute to the other trustees, course attenders, tutors, tenants, staff and volunteers who carried on while the building work was in progress – as the institute did not close.

Mike particularly thanked the great work done by the staff – manager Trish Noakes, deputy manager Jan Todd, and assistant manager Pru Chambers. He said he was pleased to see Pru at the celebration as she has recently taken up a new job at The Lightbox in Woking, but thanked her for her work in organising the evening’s event.

He added that the work that has been achieved (on time) is truly tremendous. However, all the funds donated have been spent, but there is more work needed to transform the institute in the next couple of years, including refurbishing meeting rooms and the kitchen.

Click here for the Guildford Institute’s website with details of all it has to offer, from courses to concerts and a lot more besides.

The musicians who played at the celebration. When Ben Elton was introduced they played the theme tune for the TV comedy series Blackadder, several series of which Ben co-wrote with Richard Curtis.

The musicians who played at the celebration. When Ben Elton was introduced they played the theme tune for the TV comedy series Blackadder, several series of which Ben co-wrote with Richard Curtis.

 

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