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Formula One unites for GOSH at the Official F1 Party 03 Jul 2008

The Formula One Party, sponsored by Santander in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Bloomsbury Ballroom, London. 2nd July 2008. Pharrell Williams lead singer of the funk-rock band, N*E*R*D. © Glenn Dunbar / LAT Photographic The Formula One Party, sponsored by Santander in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Bloomsbury Ballroom, London. 2nd July 2008. The Ecclestone family. Bernie, wife Slavica and daughters Petra and Tamara. © Glenn Dunbar / LAT Photographic The Formula One Party, sponsored by Santander in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Bloomsbury Ballroom, London. 2nd July 2008. Tess Daley and Vernon Kay. © Glenn Dunbar / LAT Photographic The Formula One Party, sponsored by Santander in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Bloomsbury Ballroom, London. 2nd July 2008. Jenson Button, Honda RA108. © Glenn Dunbar / LAT Photographic The Formula One Party, sponsored by Santander in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Bloomsbury Ballroom, London. 2nd July 2008. Jamelia (English R&B singer-songwriter) © Glenn Dunbar / LAT Photographic

Every year prior to the British Grand Prix the good and the great of Formula One racing come together for a party. Of course, Formula One racing is no ordinary enterprise, so this is no ordinary party. It is a party to celebrate the gift of life - the Official F1 Party in aid of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Children’s Charity.

This year, together with event sponsor Santander, the F1 community pulled together to raise over £700,000 to build the hospital’s new Heart and Lung Centre. As Bernie Ecclestone put it: “We try to support an institution that tries to make an effort, because so many don’t try at all.”

The venue for Wednesday evening’s party was a very British one - London’s famous Bloomsbury Ballroom at Victoria House - and the red carpet was one of the longest in years. The evening’s programme had something for everyone, combining exquisite taste and an emotional setting, with GOSH patrons Tess Daly and Vernon Kay as the fabulous hosts.

On the agenda were a spectacular charity auction, with ‘once in a lifetime’ lots, and musical entertainment by the likes of Ben Bailey with Funk Royale, N*E*R*D, the boyhood band of legendary producer and singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams, and Basement Jaxx. But let’s start at the beginning…

One of the first along that red carpet was Honda driver Jenson Button, who had clearly made an effort with his attire: “I like to be dressed fashionably. Just because people tend to see me mostly in overalls, it doesn’t mean that I am a ‘fashion lightweight’ - quite the contrary. And yes, I stand fully behind the F1 efforts to make a better life for GOSH’s young patients.” (Just how fully behind those efforts he is would be illustrated later in the evening.)

Red Bull’s Mark Webber was another driver in attendance, and one who has a very personal history with GOSH: “An Australian friend’s little boy was treated at GOSH. Unfortunately he did not make it, but in his time at the hospital he was cared for so well that giving my support is a matter of the heart.”

And for Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella it was just another day in his long-term support for the hospital: “GOSH is my charity - has been for years now. So it went without saying that I would be here tonight to lend a hand.”

One notable absentee was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who pulled out at the last minute due to a lip injury he sustained while kayaking last weekend. Regardless, there were plenty of serious VIPs from the worlds of entertainment, sport, show business and Formula One . Among them were Bernie Ecclestone and his family, Antonio Horta-Osorio, CEO of Abbey, Honda’s Nick Fry and Ross Brawn, Red Bull’s Christian Horner, Force India’s Colin Kolles, Matthew Williamson, Jamelia, James Cracknell, Leon Jackson, Jimmy Choo, Immodesty Blaize, Freema Agyeman, Simon Webbe and Damon Hill.

Arrivals, conversation and dining complete, it was on to the serious business of the evening, the auction, with lots including:

- Two laps in Santander’s two-seater Grand Prix car, driven by ‘The Stig’ from BBC television’s Top Gear on race day of the British Grand Prix, donated by Santander, Abbey and BBC Top Gear.

- A beautiful 1.14 carat diamond and 4.39 carat sapphire butterfly pendant, donated by world-famous jeweller Graff.

- A two-day ‘experience Ferrari’ package at the Italian team’s Maranello factory in September, donated by the Italian team.

- A once in a lifetime Las Vegas experience featuring a ‘meet and greet’ with legendary star Barry Manilow, donated by US Airways and Stiletto Entertainment.

- Two places on the Renault Formula One team’s ‘Feel-It’ programme at the Paul Ricard circuit in France on July 17, donated by ING Renault.

- A week spent living like a Billionaire, with a one-week stay at the luxurious Kingfisher Villa in Goa, donated by Kingfisher Airlines.

- The Steinmetz diamond-encrusted steering wheel, as used by Kimi Raikkonen and donated by McLaren.

- The Red Bull Air Race flight in a double-seater plane, donated by Red Bull.

Arguably the most important lot of the night, however, was the chance to buy a new heart and lung bypass machine for GOSH. It easily attracted the biggest bid of the evening, and that was before another five guests - including Button - each added another substantial sum to the pot.

It brought the total raised by the party to over £700,000, smashing the 2007 total and even breaking this year’s target. Not surprisingly the guests were in the mood to celebrate and luckily Pharrell Williams and N*E*R*D were on hand to provide the entertainment. In front of 500 guests, the band put in a stunning (and seriously loud!) performance that electrified the room until the early hours.

For more information on GOSH and to make a donation, visit www.gosh.org