Hollywood stars at gala to help children with cancer

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The Independent Online

Hugh Grant, Vanessa Redgrave and Anjelica Huston were among the stars attending a charity event at Hampton Court Palace held in memory of Mikhail Gorbachev's late wife.

The former Russian President co-hosted the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation's fifth annual Midsummer Gala with Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev, owners of the Independent titles and the London Evening Standard, at their home in the grounds of the palace over the weekend.

Luminaries from the worlds of film, art, music and fashion enjoyed performances by the opera singer Anna Netrebko and the pop star Bryan Ferry. Dinner was followed by a charity auction with lots including a Francis Bacon triptych, a lithograph by Jeff Koons, lunch with Kevin Spacey, diamonds and luxury holidays.

The auction raised £1.7m – more than last year's fund-raising total despite the challenging financial climate – which will be split between Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation.

The Foundation was established in 2006 to commemorate the former Russian first lady, who died of leukaemia in 1999.

The comedian David Walliams, the actors Dougray Scott and Joely Richardson, designer Patrick Cox and film producer David Furnish were also at the event.

The charity's founder, Evgeny Lebedev, said: "Mikhail Gorbachev and I were so moved by the generosity of our guests who helped us to raise this astounding figure of £1.7m. This will go a long way to help lessen the suffering of so many children and their families – as was Raisa Gorbachev's aim."

Mrs Gorbachev was active in campaigning and fund-raising for childhood cancer, establishing the Children's Leukaemia Haematology project in 1989 to improve public awareness about the disease's curability if treated in its early stages. Her husband donated half the funds from his Nobel Peace Prize to the cause, helping to improve leukaemia treatment facilities across Russia.

The Raisa Gorbachev Foundation aims to continue Mrs Gorbachev's work in Russia and in the UK, where it works alongside Marie Curie Cancer Care. It has raised more than £5.5m, with the money going towards funding modern diagnostic equipment for hospitals and providing young cancer patients with specialist care.

Mr Gorbachev is an official patron of the foundation, while Evgeny Lebedev is chairman.