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16 JANUARY 2014

Around £330,000 gathered in London on Old New Year’s Eve for children in Gift of Life’s care

On the 13th of January 2014, the Gift of Life foundation held its third charity evening and auction at the Savoy Hotel in London, in aid of children in the care of the Russian Podari Zhizn foundation. Thanks to the efforts of the charity auction participants, and the generous donations of the evening’s guests, we have been able to raise around £330 000 in aid of children with cancer in Russia.

The evening’s guests enjoyed to an unforgettable atmosphere brought about by the evening’s hosts, the co-founders of the Gift of Life and Podari Zhizn foundations, famous actresses Dina Korzun and Chulpan Khamatova. The evening featured performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, and by prima ballerina Ulyana Lopatkina. The guests included famous English singer and Gift of Life patron Katie Melua, renowned Russian TV host Vladimir Pozner, Evgeny Mironov, one of Russia’s best-known actors, and many others.

The live auction was conducted by Lord Poltimore of Sotheby’s who handed over to the Russian actors and TV stars, Mikhail Shatz and Tatiana Lazareva continuing the tradition of auctioning luxury goods and money can’t buy experiences in Russian and English to a room full of the most glamorous guests, many of whom had travelled from abroad to help raise money for the charity.

The guests  battled to win the Live auction lots, to such an extent that two lots were doubled up with the underbidders and the highest bidder going home with the prize. A three day trip to Tuscany to visit some of the most beautiful castles and wineries, with private dinner invitations from the aristocratic owners and a chance to watch Prima Ballerina, Uliana Lopatkina dance Giselle at the Mariinsky theatre in St Petersburg, with two nights at the Hotel Astoria were the most sought after lots. Uliana introduced her lot in her own inimitable way, by dancing the Russian Dance, with the guests aghast at the opportunity to see such a stunning performance in so intimate a setting. The final lot was preceded by a heart felt story from Evegeniy Mironov, one of Russia’s greatest actors, who told of his visit to a cancer ward, built with funds from Gift of Life, of meeting a young patient who dreamed of becoming the next Mironov. He praised the founders of Gift of Life for not just saving young people’s lives but also for saving the future dancers, actors, directors and doctors who will continue to make this world a better place. Mironov auctioned the chance to see him in his famous Hamlet, directed by Robert Lepage at the Theatre of Nations.

In the on-line auction over 20 luxury items and experiences were on offer to bidders around the globe. Trips to Sicily, Uraguay and Munich were on the menu, along with diamond jewellry the chance to see Katie Melua in concert in Moscow and own her signed guitar and performances and backstage experiences at the Royal Opera House, The ENO, Cirque de Soleil and many other outstanding cultural offerings.

All the lots have been generously donated by friends of the Gift of Life and Podari Zhizn foundations. Thanks to the funds earned, young Russian patients will receive the gift they need most: expensive life-saving medicines.

All expenses involved in organising the event have been covered by Sberbank CIB, Kaspersky Lab, Zilli, PolyClinica No1 and Padva, Haslam-Jones & Partners. All performers and hosts generously performed pro bono. In addition, Aeroflot – Russian Airlines helped them fly to London, while the Savoy Hotel provided free accommodation. Thanks to their support, all of the funds gathered during the charity evening will be converted directly into medicines that help Russian children recover from grave illness and return to the joys of ordinary childhood.