Cullum sets tone for £3.7m dinner

By Jessica Elgot, June 23, 2011
Jamie Cullum’s dinner show

Jamie Cullum’s dinner show

Brit award winning pop and jazz singer Jamie Cullum sang the praises of Jewish Care at its campaign dinner on Monday, which raised a record £3.7 million.

Addressing almost 1,000 guests at Grosvenor House in central London, Cullum said he had been "absolutely blown away" by a visit to the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl campus in Golders Green, where he spoke to residents.

"I couldn't believe it - it really should set the standard in how we look after elderly people in this country.

"It was a real treat to go there. Now I know why I'm here, and why everyone's come here tonight, to make sure it continues."

He dedicated his dinner show to his grandmother, performing I Get A Kick Out Of You and If I Ruled The World, her favourite songs.

Lord Grade with Jewish Care service users Sally Flood and Jack Peston

Lord Grade with Jewish Care service users Sally Flood and Jack Peston

Jumping down from the stage mid-set, he continued standing on a chair next to Jewish Care president Lord Levy and chairman Stephen Zimmerman.

Earlier in the evening, Mr Zimmerman announced he was standing down after five years. It had been "the job I have enjoyed most in my life".

The last year had been difficult. "We prepared ourselves for severe cuts but we don't have to tell you it's very tough out there. We have no government funding for so many of our services."

Deputy chair Steven Lewis will succeed him in November. He warned that "we must raise £15 million this year. If we do not, the stark reality is that we will need to make some very difficult decisions. We are genuinely concerned about what lies ahead."

Some guests had struggled to arrive on time, due to traffic problems on Edgware Road. But surveying the crowded room, guest speaker Lord Grade joked: "Harry Morgan's is empty tonight. And we know where you all live, so if you don't give enough tonight, we will close the Edgware Road again so you can't get home."

Lord Grade also interviewed octogenarian Jewish Care service users Jack Peston and Sally Flood. "I wasn't nervous at all," said Mr Peston, who plays the piano and DJs at Sinclair House in Redbridge. "You don't get nervous at my age. I'd have got up there and sung a song." Ms Flood, who attends the community centre in Stepney Green, said: "It's been such a wonderful experience. I feel like I'm famous."

Speaking afterwards, chief executive Simon Morris pointed out that despite the record proceeds, "we still have another £11 million to raise this year, which we know will not be easy".

Last updated: 3:05pm, June 23 2011