Tony Cow­ell

Best - - CONTENTS - Tony Cow­ell GET THE LOW-DOWN ON THE NUTCRACKER BALL

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.

CELEBRITY SPARKLE

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.’

STIR­RING SPEECHES

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

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