HUNDREDS of supporters of a Jewish social care charity have gathered to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

The Fed, which is based in Prestwich, held its annual fundraiser dinner at Lancashire County Cricket Club, where 400 supporters turned out to show their support.

The event was hosted by BBC Radio 4 presenter Paddy O’Connell and charity chairman Mark Adlestone reminded guests that ‘the community cannot take The Fed for granted’.

Newly appointed chief executive Mark Cunningham thanked outgoing CEO Karen Phillips for “her leadership, support and friendship over the past 20 years”.

He added that, from starting at The Fed on a student work placement in 1995, he had discovered an “amazing organisation”.

“That such a charity could exist was a complete revelation to me,” he said.

“I was shocked by the levels of poverty and the difficulties affecting so many people. Disability, hardship, loneliness, mental health problems and families struggling to cope.

“Yet here was a voluntary organisation supported and largely funded by the community, making a huge difference to people’s lives and for me this was unique.”

He described his pride in becoming part of the organisation and how ‘humbled and proud’ he is to see the support delivered by Fed staff.

But he highlighted the struggle faced by The Fed 150 years from its inception 1867 when there was no welfare state or NHS.

“The absence of a welfare state in the 1860s is making an unwelcome return in the new millennium,” he stressed.

Mark Adlestone, chairman of The Fed’s board of trustees, said: “Our community cannot take The Fed for granted. We need even greater buy-in from our community to ensure we protect and nurture this prize asset.”

The charity’s treasurer, Bernie Yaffe, added: “This year we asked people for a one-year pledge though we usually ask for a two-year commitment.

“We’ve decided to break with tradition just this once. We’re already making plans for our 2018 dinner. Thereafter we will revert to biennial dinners.

“It bodes very well that many donors increased their annual pledges but we still have a way to go towards achieving our target and are now in the process of contacting numerous loyal supporters who were

not able to be present at the dinner.”