Last night we took to the Thames with 160 guests on the Silver Sturgeon for an evening of fine dining and entertainment, all in aid of the Dimbleby Marie Curie Research Fund.

The two year, million pound collaborative project for research into improving end-of-life care needs for people with cancer and other life-limiting conditions that last night supported will be funding major research focused on all the unpaid carers – family members and friends – who are looking after someone who is terminally ill.  Many of them find themselves in this vital role, despite having no prior training in providing care.  They need to develop basic nursing skills to help them with the physical and medical practicalities of care.  We are researching the practical education needs of these informal caregivers, with a view to developing ways in which the necessary training can be delivered to them.

David Dimbleby opened the evening with a short welcome address outlining the evening’s events and was followed by Sir Mike Richards who spoke about his work with both charities over the years and went onto explain the importance of the work that the joint research fund does.

The food was provided by Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts – an amazing starter served on rustic planks of wood, followed by a mouth watering main of slow-cooked porchetta and finished off with an espresso cup of Valrhona chocolate with salted caramel, orange & polenta cookies. Delicious!

After the main course, the highlight of the evening: Jonathan Dimbleby ‘in conversation’ with the wonderful Joanna Lumley. Joanna took to the stage and spoke candidly with Jonathan about her life – and of course with great humour. A true performer throughout, she took us through her early years, to her discovery of London as a jobbing model and actress, the moment her career really took off, and her work campaigning for the Gurkhas. Joanna had the guests enthralled – both in stitches and yet also at times incredibly moving. At the end Joanna took questions from the floor. As Jonathan said, a true National Treasure.

Following dessert, it was time to move to the main focus of the evening: raising money, and the auction of 5 amazing lots. In the skillful hands of Sothebys’ Lord Harry Dalmeny, the lots – which included a month’s work experience at Vogue, a luxury holiday in Phuket and the chance to win your weight in wine – raised a staggering £22,5000.00. Harry Dalmeny worked the room with great energy and humour, creating a great atmostphere throughout – helped of course by the fact that cruising on the Thames there was no escape for anyone!

Before arriving back at the Savoy Pier, Marie Curie CEO Tom Hughes-Hallett led the pledge for donations, asking everything to dig deep in support of the charities’ work.

Jonathan drew the evening to a close with a list of thank yous before inviting Joanna back to the stage to draw the raffle.

Excluding the pledges still to be counted, the evening raised a total of £55,000.00, looking like we are on course to reach our fundraising total for the evening.

On behalf of both Marie Curie and Dimbleby Cancer Care we would like to thank everyone involved for making the evening such a success.