BRILLIANT young musicians and celebrities from the worlds of film and television joined 2,000 guests at the Royal Festival Hall in London on December 2 for A Night Under the Stars, a musical gala in aid of The Passage in the presence of Princess Michael of Kent.
Among the guests were Cardinal Cormac MurphyO'Connor, the chairman of Barclays John Varley, whose bank jointly sponsored the event, and Brendan Nelson and Alison Halsey of KPMG, the other main sponsor.
The Passage runs the largest voluntary sector day centre and outreach programme for homeless and vulnerable people in the capital.
In 2005 the charity celebrated the 25th anniversary of its foundation by Cardi
nal Basil Hume and the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. Each day the organisation and its staff help more than 200 homeless and vulnerable men and women. Clients of The Passage may be suffering from mental illness or drug or alcohol dependency and they have sometimes been the victims of ill-treatment.
Passage House, the charity's 48-bedroom emergency hostel, was officially opened on March 1 2000. For the past five years The Passage has also run Montfort House, which contains 16 self-contained studio flats with staff support on site for those preparing for independent living.
The chairman of The Catholic Herald, Peter Sheppard. has been chiefly responsible for organising A Night Under the Stars since it began. This is the eighth fundraising concert, and not counting this year, the event has so far raised 000,000. Sir Roger Moore, whose daughter Deborah is closely involved with fund-raising, hosted the evening. Gloria Hunniford gave an address and Aled Jones sang the heart-rending ballad made famous by Bette Midler, "The Rose".
Guests watched a moving video relating the story of Nathan Daniel. who managed to rebuild his life with the help of The Passage after experiencing homelessness.
The theme of the evening was "rising stars" and among the young soloists was Harry Bradford, BBC Choirboy of the year 2008. Valeriy Sokolov played violin, Martin Grubinger on percussion performed a rousing finale and Teo Gheorghiu played piano. The programme finished with Bernstein's "Somewhere (There's a Place for Us)" with the group Streetwise Opera. The Orion Orchestra conducted by Toby Purser provided the music.
Marks and Spencer provided the champagne and Reed Elsevier paid for the printing of the programmes. All the stars and artists donated their services free of charge.
The lively programme included Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudrnila overture. Introduction and Rondo Capriccios° by Saint Saens, Carmen Fantasy by Bizet and Busoni and Hungarian dances by Brahms.
To donate to The Passage, contact Andrew Hollingsworth at [email protected]