18 JANUARY 2012

Launch of Gift of Life foundation in the UK

13 January 2012 marked the official UK launch of the Gift of Life foundation. The event took place at The Wallace Collection, a national museum in London. An auction, together with other donations and a charitable lottery held on the night, raised over £300,000 for the benefit of Russian children suffering from cancer.

The Gift of Life foundation commenced its operations in the UK in 2011. It raises funds in the UK and other European countries. One of the foundation’s main objectives in the coming year is to raise funds for Erwinase, a drug manufactured and sold in the UK, and to make it available to Russian patients. Each year Erwinase is needed by nearly 60 Russian children suffering from leukaemia.

The foundation’s other aims include raising money to support finding suitable bone marrow donors, and to fund treatment of Russian children abroad where it is impossible to receive such treatment in Russia.

Dina Korzun, a co-founder of the Podari Zhizn foundation and a trustee of Gift of Life foundation: “It would have been impossible to set up Gift of Life without the help of a great many people, including Brits and Russians living in the UK. I am incredibly grateful to all those who have helped us and continue to rally around us along the way. Their kindness, munificence and enthusiasm, their willingness to support our projects and the children bears testimony to the fact that the opening of Gift of Life was crucial and not a moment too soon. A great big thank you to everyone who supports our foundation!”

Chulpan Khamatova, a co-founder of the Podari Zhizn foundation: “Another argument in favour of establishing a charity foundation in the UK is the tax relief scheme which benefits UK registered charities. Under the Gift Aid system operating in the UK, if a donor completes a form, the state will increase the value of their donation by 25%. Though Russia cannot yet boast to have such auspicious laws on charitable giving, I very much hope that sooner or later there will be a turnaround on this issue.”

A legendary BBC radio presenter, musician and writer, Seva Novgorodsev MBE took over as master of ceremonies at the evening’s event alongside Chulpan and Dina. Presiding over the auction was the chairman of Sotheby’s UK, Lord Dalmeny, who wowed the audience. All of the auction lots had been contributed by donors, including a unique opportunity to visit the newly refurbished Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, to wear custom made earrings by Shaun Leane and to have a bespoke gown made by the Vivienne Westwood atelier. The highest bidder paid £60,000 for a chance to see Arsenal v Manchester City from the Private Box of Andrei Arshavin.

The charity event was attended by members of the Russian community in the UK, including the business elite, distinguished doctors and celebrities such as Evgeny Lebedev, Natalia Vodyanova, Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko, to name but a few.

Guests of the event were treated to a performance by the illustrious jazz band Nino Katamadze & Insight, who have won accolades from jazz lovers the world over. Nino and her band are actively involved in charity work and gave their performance free of charge.

All proceeds from the donations, lottery and auction will go towards purchasing life-saving drugs for children in Russia. Organisers expect that these funds will allow them to buy Erwinase for several children in the New Year, including the 15 year-old Evelina Bykova from Vladivostok in the Far East of Russia.

The evening was sponsored by investment company Troika Dialog, the Coutts private bank , the Padva law firm , Haslam-Jones & Partners LLP, and companies IZM Productions and Kaspersky Lab. The couture gowns for the hostesses were designed by Vivienne Westwood.

It is worth noting that the launch gala took place on the night when Russians traditionally celebrate the Old New Year – this unusual Russian tradition serves as yet another reminder of Christmas and New Year miracles, of a yearning to do well and to give gifts. The finest present that seriously ill Russian children can hope to receive is the best available modern treatment. We trust that they will receive this gift thanks to the efforts made by our guests.