Through the Looking Glass Charity is the result of my personal desire to create an initiative where I could tangibly help “talented” young students from less affluent areas realise their potential, in a practical way by using my time, experience, energy and network of contacts in the City to help give back to our local communities, and to better reflect a diverse workforce in the City. Through the Looking Glass Charity is and remains an initiative dedicated to social mobility.

I believe that one of the greatest gifts you can give to another human being is your time, your experience and guidance to help them develop courage and the necessary confidence to believe in themselves – it is so rewarding to be part of that journey of transformation with them, and thereby to impact so positively on another human being. I encourage you to do the same.

I hope you enjoy looking through the webpage, especially our fun storyboard, which started with me sitting on a plane next to Adam from Macquarie Bank, flying to Cannes for a property conference scratching out my ideas on a notepad using green ink, and then completely covering my hands when the ink pen exploded… thereby staining my hands green for the entire conference!

I could not have come this far without the support and wise counsel of so many incredible people in my professional and personal life. In particular I would like to convey a huge thanks to Elaine Hatton and Deborah Dalgleish from Ashurst LLP for their patience and guidance – they have supported me on this project from the outset and always made themselves available to me whenever I have wanted to ask questions or talk through issues.

The generous financial sponsorship which has helped me set up the charity is enormously appreciated. We are very grateful to Ashurst LLP, Burness Paull LLP, CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, Osborne Clarke LLP, Linklaters LLP, Hardwicke Chambers and Eversheds LLP for their generosity in providing vital financial sponsorship, and to the other valued partners for sponsoring our programme in London and Manchester. Thank you all very much.

In relation to the legal work, I feel special thanks must go to Peter Vaines for providing his legal expertise to help convert the programme to charitable status, and to Eversheds LLP and CMS Cameron McKenna LLP for providing incredibly patient counsel on the various charity law queries and intellectual property issues that we have had to deal with.

A personal thanks must also go to Zarah Said, our Creative Artist, who is exceptionally talented and has a flair for creativity; for always being available to help me develop the characters for the handbook and webpage and for translating my vision into a reality – thank you to Jamal Rafique for introducing me to Zarah when I couldn’t find anyone to help me; Jennifer Lee our talented graphic designer who makes our handbooks so unique and professional; Shelene Newton who created the road-map to set up our webpage and guru Bob Shone for actually creating our wonderful webpage.

My wonderful committee of friends and colleagues whose commitment is much needed and all their time given to helping me continue to grow our programme; in particular, Sakshi Buttoo, Ruth Walker and Kate Cook who have really spent an incredible amount of their own time following up with schools, co-ordinating with our sponsors and contributors and guest speakers.

Thank you to everyone for believing in me, and supporting our initiative and helping us all to make this the collaborative success that it is today.

Finally, a big thanks to Professor Trevor Williams, Ted Regan, Richard Morton, my family and my incredibly supportive partner Mark, for standing by me and always making time to hear me rant and rave about my new ideas and supporting the direction that I want our charity to grow.

Lesley Wan