Simon Cowell rolled out the red carpet last week for celebrities attending the annual ball held by his favourite children’s charity, Together For Short Lives. This year’s Disney-themed event saw me join my brother for a star-studded and emotional evening.
As patron, Simon, 59, hosted the gala evening at London’s One Marylebone. This year, the charity partnered with Disney to create The Nutcracker Ball inspired by the new film The Nutcracker And The Four Realms. This magical event raises money for the UK’s 49,000 seriously ill children – shining a timely light on those living with life-limiting conditions, and providing for their families to ensure they get the support they so desperately need.
Alongside girlfriend Lauren Silverman, 41, Simon hosted his own table of close friends and celebrities, including X
Factor judge Ayda Field. Ayda, 39, told me, ‘It’s one of those special nights when it’s not just about celebrities – it’s about the kids and families who benefit.’
My friend, Peter Andre, 45, and his wife, Emily, 29, joined our table, alongside ex- Strictly dancer Kristina Rihanoff, 41, and Mel Sykes, 48. Peter said, ‘This is a cause very close to our hearts.’
Other celebs included Steph and Dom from Gogglebox, BGT winner Richard Jones, 28, and this year’s X Factor finalists, Dalton Harris and Scarlett Lee.
Diversity star Jordan Banjo, 25, was a superb compère and, following a sumptuous dinner designed by chef Aldo Zilli, 62, Jordan introduced former X Factor winner James Arthur, 30, who sang two songs from his album, Back From The Edge. James told me, ‘I’m honoured to support the work this charity does.’
Later in the evening, Simon gave an emotional speech in which he admitted how having his son, Eric, four, helped change the way he lived his own life. He now treasures every minute he can spend with Eric. He paid tribute to the work that Together For Short Lives does for life-limited children – and, at one point, he was so overcome with emotion that girlfriend Lauren had to take to the stage to offer her support. Lauren explained there was more that could be done to help the families.
Simon and Lauren’s words showed their passion for a charity that remains very dear to their hearts. Simon said, ‘It’s always an honour to host this ball. I have been involved with the charity for a few years now, and have seen the amazing work they do for kids with lifelimiting conditions. It’s also a fun evening where we can help raise money and encourage others to get involved – that’s something I’m very passionate about. Sadly, too many of these families struggle to get the care
and support they need, on top of coming to terms with the heart-breaking news that their child may die at a young age.’
A GOOD CAUSE
The charity auction wrapped up the evening and this year, our auctioneer was author Jeffrey Archer, 78. Simon splashed out £100,000 on a photo by fine art photographer David Yarrow. Additional lots included VIP tickets to this year’s X Factor live final, plus a holiday in the Maldives.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
I don’t know what it is about these occasions but, every time I’m with Simon at them, it reminds me of our late mum, Julie. I know she can’t be here to help raise money for this important cause but, at least in a weird and wonderful way, she helped make it all possible. I’m also proud that my wife, Emma, was there with me, as it was her hard work that went into organising this amazing event. Well done, Emma! And thanks to Disney for sprinkling their magic on a wonderful night to remember, which managed to raise more than £350,000.
For more, see together forshortlives. org.uk