Fergie and Simon Cowell relish their starring roles

By Jessica Elgot, November 18, 2010

The stars came out for Norwood with Simon Cowell, the Duchess of York, Sir Philip Green, Theo Paphitis and Vanessa Feltz among the dinner guests.Simon Cowell - a close friend of Norwood president Richard Desmond - good naturedly responded to the many requests for photos. And he left fans in no doubt of his pride in his Jewish heritage.

"I've been coming to the Norwood dinners for many years now," he told the JC. "I can never say no when Richard asks me.

"This night is something very special. In times like these, charities do need our help more than before. Everyone's asking for more."

Sarah Ferguson was the evening's guest speaker, having volunteered her time to the charity, and was joined at the reception by Princess Beatrice.

"It's been a challenging year for Norwood and it's been a challenging one for me, too," she said. "It was very brave of Richard Desmond to invite me when the whole of Britain shut their doors to me. When I walked into this room, I could feel what a warm community this is."

She recalled a day touring Norwood's facilities as "wonderful" and hailed the charity's service users and staff as "the real celebrities".

Mr Paphitis, one of the Dragons' Den panel, observed: "Norwood is very special because it takes care of the whole family. When times are tough, there's less support and less of a safety net from the government. The fortunate have to do our bit and dig a bit deeper."

Ms Feltz attended with fiancé, Phats and Small singer Ben Ofoedu. "Ben and I mark the four years we've been together in Norwood dinners," she said. "It's the most worthwhile charity. We all know people who have been helped by Norwood when they have been at their most beleaguered."

Kate Garraway from ITV breakfast show Daybreak said: "I love this evening, even though I'm not Jewish. I was sorry to miss last year, but I was away doing a bit of breeding."

Entertainment was provided by former Blue singer Simon Webbe and Glasgow dancers The Box.

Last updated: 3:06pm, November 18 2010