Last weekend I attended a black tie gala dinner at the Dorchester Hotel on London’s Park Lane to mark the 10th anniversary of the Caron Keating Foundation.
This is the charity founded by Gloria Hunniford and her close family in the wake of her daughter’s death from breast cancer.
The foundation, under the tight financial control of Gloria, has no posh offices, company cars or expense accounts. Save for printing, paper and postage costs, virtually every penny raised is used to directly help a variety of cancer charities and support centres around the UK.
Breaking their own rules on expenses, a short film had been commissioned highlighting some of the projects the charity has funded since its formation and the families and individuals who’s lives have been touched by the charity.
Richard Caring, the owner of The Ivy restaurant, kicked of the event with a donation of £10,000 representing a thousand pounds for each year.
On several previous occasions I have had the honour of conducting the charity auction for the Foundation.
However, this time I could sit back and enjoy the night as former MP and author Lord Archer had the task of extracting money from the guests, all of whom had some connection to Caron or the Hunniford family.
Philip Schofield and former Blue Peter colleagues Mark Curry and Janet Ellis each gave a moving tribute to Caron and shared personal memories.
Sophie Ellis-Bexter was also there, taking to the stage to perform her hits, while Christopher Biggins was Master of Ceremonies and taking no prisoners in front of an audience which included Barbara Windsor, Anthea Turner, Vanessa Feltz and many others from stage, screen and radio.
There were also video messages from several people unable to attend, including Michael Ball and Neil Diamond.
Gloria once told me ‘when you lose a child, a part of you dies with them.”
It’s a testament to her courage and willpower to have channelled such a huge personal loss into something so positive and beneficial to others.
With ticket sales and auction prizes, over £100,000 was raised on the night and over £2m in 10 years.