Naomi is on model behaviour for flood relief charity appeal

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The Independent Online

They are hardly obvious bedfellows. One is a 37-year-old catwalk beauty with a hair-trigger temper and a habit of hurling mobile phones at underlings; the other is a venerable, 102-year-old organisation of do-gooding professionals devoted to understanding, goodwill and peace. One divides her time between lucrative photo-shoots, post-rehab therapy and court appearances; the other devotes its energy to funding literacy and hunger projects and giving young people university scholarships. Until recently, they were barely aware of each other's existence. Now they are inseparable.

Naomi Campbell and the Rotary club – the odd couple of modern British charity – are collaborating to raise money for victims of this summer's floods in Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and the Thames Valley. Ms Campbell, who was abroad at the time, said she saw TV footage of whole towns under water in early July and was moved to act.

"What really got to me was that kids couldn't go to school at the start of the term and were herded into a gymnasium," she said yesterday. "I thought, 'What can we do?' A friend said, 'Do what you did in New York'." In 2005, the South London-born model founded the charity Fashion for Relief, which last year raised millions of dollars for the Hurricane Katrina appeal with a catwalk show during New York Fashion Week.

Ms Campbell has now set up a similar event for London Fashion Week, with all proceeds going to the Rotary's flood disaster appeal. Everyone in her capacious address book has been invited. Tomorrow night in the British Fashion Council's tent at the Natural History Museum, a glamorous throng of supermodels, designers, actors, footballers, socialites and freelance celebrities will strut down the runway. They include Elle Macpherson, Alexander McQueen, Boy George, Rio Ferdinand, Yasmin Le Bon and the actress Rosario Dawson. Everyone will be there, darling. Fashion royalty, including Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano, have each pledged three couture outfits to be auctioned on eBay. Claudia Schiffer may show up. We're not sure about Kate Moss.

Unusually, tickets are on sale to the general public. Whether they will be happy to pay £750 for a front-row seat (tickets in standing areas are a mere £100) remains to be seen. Perhaps people will be swayed by the promise of a goody bag full of trinkets worth £2,000, sponsored by Garrard, the royal jeweller.

Warily surveying this circus of froth is Allan Jagger, the president of Rotary International's Great Britain and Ireland chapter. The straight-talking, no-nonsense engineer from Leeds is a seasoned fund-raiser and donor, supporter of Scouting and fan of caravanning.

"We are just not properly set up for dealing with disasters in this country," he says, "But, from the start, Rotary has been raising money, getting an appeal before the public and replacing community projects that were damaged, like a flooded hospice in Swindon that needs £50,000 to re-open. We'll step in and deliver that money."

So far, the Rotary appeal has raised £270,000 but that, sadly, is a drop in the ocean. When the floodwaters subsided and the television crews departed, the bill for damages was estimated at £3bn. So far, handouts from the Government have amounted to £14m. Mr Jagger is wary of making political statements but is clearly unimpressed by the response from Westminster, given the horror stories he hears. "Three weeks after the floods, we were going to people's houses, opening their cookers and finding raw effluent coming out," he said. However, he is clearly dazzled that Ms Campbell has agreed to help.

They appeared together at a press launch last week, attended by the editors of Vogue and GQ, and this week spoke to The Independent at a Belgravia hotel. Ms Campbell even sang Rotary's praises on Radio Four's Today programme. "I wasn't aware of Rotary before but they came up in our researches," she said. "They are wonderful people, so lovely to work with. I think they are honest and I believe every cent raised by the Rotary club will go to the right people. And," she added, with a flash of her scary eyes, "I will attend board meetings and see where it does go." Naomi Campbell at board meetings? Whatever next?

"When the money comes in," said Mr Jagger, "Rotarians will be on the ground in local communities, putting forward the projects that need funding. Then the committee will meet in London, Naomi will come along, we'll look at them together and decide which funds should go where."

But does the catwalk queen feel equipped to assess the relative urgency of damage assistance? Campbell leaned fondly towards Mr Jagger and his PR director, Judith Diment. "I'll rely on my friends here," she breathed, as Mr Jagger beamed. They are already discussing taking her to visit stricken areas to see who needs help. "I moost say, Naomi, I'm delighted you've chosen Rotary," said Mr Jagger. "We'll make sure we deliver – we'll keep your dream alive."

Tickets for Thursday's show are available at www.ticketmaster.co.uk

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