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It's Strictly £2.75m for Norwood

    Robert Rinder, Darcey Bussell, former Norwood service user Michelle Nachum and Greg Rutherford
    Robert Rinder, Darcey Bussell, former Norwood service user Michelle Nachum and Greg Rutherford

    It was Strictly entertaining for nearly 1,000 Norwood supporters on Monday as stars of the BBC dance show featured in the charity's annual dinner in central London, which raised £2.75 million.

    Contestants Robert Rinder and Greg Rutherford and Strictly judge Darcey Bussell participated in a panel discussion reflecting the theme of Norwood's latest campaign, "Personal Best".

    Rinder asked the Grosvenor House audience: "I suppose you've been voting? Don't feel bad if you haven't but I assume if you don't vote for me, it will be because of antisemitism!"

    The criminal barrister, who also appears on daytime television in Judge Rinder, said he was a lifetime supporter of the children and families charity. Fluent in Yiddish, he has been teaching Rutherford key words and phrases.

    "I love it. I will use it whenever I can. Sadly I can't use it in court. I have had so many moments where I've wanted to say to a litigant: 'What is this meshuganah doing?'

    "Or appeared in front of a youth court and wanted to say: 'Look he's not a bad boy, he's just a lobbes.'"

    Interviewing his co-stars, he asked Rutherford to explain the meaning of shnorrer.

    "It is my new favourite word," the Olympic long jump gold medallist replied." I hope nobody here has been a shnorrer tonight. It has been really fun learning the language."

    On a more serious note, guests heard from Rebecca Lane, 21, who Norwood helped to overcome a childhood of neglect and trauma.

    She received a standing ovation for a speech in which she said: "Norwood has been there for me for as long as I can remember.

    "I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor, my parents were not looking after us and I had barely any clothes. I dreamed of going to university but, as a child whose parents walked out when I was 14, I knew the statistics were against me.

    "But Norwood helped me fulfil my dream. I'm in my fourth year of university and hope to go on to get more women involved in science. I can say without any doubt that I would not be where I am without their help. They taught me to trust adults again."

    Rinder said he was moved by Norwood service users' stories. "I've been lucky. Despite coming from a blended family, I've always kept a very strong relationship with them.

    "Being here tonight and hearing the stories some people have faced makes you realise how lucky you are to be brought up in a very loving, very traditional Jewish home."

    Back with Strictly, he said last week's performance of the fox trot had been the highlight for him, particularly as it is the favourite dance of his grandparents, who were in the front row of the audience.

    "They really enjoyed being there," he said. "I was worried that people might think by having them there I was being inauthentic or shmaltzy.

    "But I got into that dance because they loved it. It was their dance, from their generation."

    Explaining Personal Best, Lady Mendelsohn, Norwood's joint president, said it was about shedding the limitations others place on people.

    "It's about hearing 'you'll never be able to do that', then going right ahead and doing it and doing it well. It's the common thread that runs through every part of this charity, day in, day out."

    Chief executive Elaine Kerr hoped "our guests left inspired by the stories they've heard and with the knowledge their support has made a huge difference to the lives of so many. The money raised tonight will do a tremendous amount of good."

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