Strictly raising £2.8m at Norwood's dinner

By Jessica Elgot, November 17, 2011
Alesha Dixon, Michelle Nachum and Elisa Bragg at the Norwood dinner

Alesha Dixon, Michelle Nachum and Elisa Bragg at the Norwood dinner

Stars of Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice and Dragons' Den helped more than 1,200 Norwood supporters raise £2.8 million for the charity's work with vulnerable children and adults.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson was the guest speaker, and entertained guests with his views on the "thoroughly baffling protests against capitalism" by the Occupy London protesters.

He said: "I invite them to see what Norwood is doing tonight. Look at the amount of money raised, and what fantastic things are done here. Norwood shows the true spirit of the city."

He told the JC: "Tonight is a fantastic example of the philanthropy of this community. Norwood is a fantastic cause which has been supporting families for more than 200 years, including an uncle of a member of my team, who was told he would not live past the age of five, but is now 65 and living in Ravenswood. So there is a personal connection."

The total was down on last year's dinner, which raised £3.3m. The charity has had around 20 per cent of its budget slashed by local authority spending cuts and austerity measures have included cutting wages of frontline care staff to save services.

Celebrities giving their support included Strictly judge Alesha Dixon, Dragon Theo Paphitis and Apprentice judge Karren Brady. Long-time Norwood supporters radio presenter Vanessa Feltz and Topshop tycoon Sir Philip Green were also at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane on Monday.

Ms Dixon said the cause was poignant for her because her younger brother has cerebral palsy. "I know first hand about what charities like this can do."

The event was the first official engagement for Elaine Kerr, Norwood's new chief executive. Ms Kerr said: "We are only going to be limited by our drive, ideas and available funding. However, it's only the latter that we don't have in abundance."

This year's appeal focused on ex-King Solomon pupil Michelle Nachum, 16, who was orphaned three years ago after the death of her father, who Norwood supported along with her cousin Elisa Bragg who became her foster carer, providing advice, funding and a social worker for bereavement counselling. Ms Nachum said: "Norwood has made a difference to so many other lives, like it did to mine."

Richard Desmond, president of Norwood, said: "In this economic climate, the generosity of supporters helps us to ensure that no one in our community falls through Norwood's safety net."

Last updated: 3:47pm, November 22 2011