Charity clay shooting and the fabulous HELLO! birthday party
The day of reckoning has arrived. My alarm sounded at 5.30am and I was up and in the shower like a rabbit. I can’t recall the last time I was so enthusiastic about something! The Highclere Shooting Challenge had been blessed with a spectacular display of British weather at its best – blue skies and sunshine. The ride to Highclere with two of my fellow team members, Grainne Stevenson and Lily Hodges, was hilarious as we suddenly realised that we were about to endure 5 drives of 200 clays per drive – for novices like us that would be a lot of shooting!
Arriving at the gates of the Highclere Castle we got our driver to stop so we could really take in the magnificent sweeping scenery of “Downton Abbey”. It is even more beautiful than you could imagine, pulling up outside in the drive we fully expected Carson to come rushing out – but no such luck! However, once inside the hall we were met with a swarm of men all dressed in their country khakis and tweeds. It all felt a little surreal. Sir John Beckwith (my uncle) and his daughter Nicola had masterminded the whole Charity event to raise much needed funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital’s ‘The Face Value’ fund. Nicola’s eldest son, Oscar, was born with Crouzon syndrome and has already undergone many facial surgeries. Urgent research is still required for extensive surgery to get him and many other little children safely into adulthood. Lord & Lady Carnarvon had been so generous to allow us to have the shoot on their estate.
One of my girlfriends had injured her shoulder the week of the shoot and had called me in a panic for a replacement. Lily Hodges mentioned our mutual friend Jodie Kidd and thankfully she was totally up for it! Breakfast was old school bacon baps and coffee. We had to sign for our shotguns and then were allocated spanking new Range Rovers – so far so brilliant! I had found our fourth Girls member Annette Nygren – she was our secret weapon as she is a terrific shot and flies all over the world with her husband to shoot.
Our 1st drive was exhilarating – never had we loaded and shot so fast. It actually didn’t matter that we were not hitting much but the adrenaline was huge. The second was a whole different kettle of fish and we struggled a bit. The third was incredibly impossible to put it mildly – I barely saw the clays high up above! Walking away we were a little downtrodden but perked up when we saw Geri Halliwell looking every inch a Pro. She is a very sporty girl and loves a competition and she certainly looked the part. The fourth and fifth drives were thankfully wonderful and we all blasted away. Heading back for lunch we were all filled with renewed vigour and how much fun we had had.
Lunch was all about the auction and the talented Henry Delahunty was in rare form. Very sombre speeches ensured tears flowed and pockets emptied. I was amazed to learn a total of £315,000 was raised, a fantastic amount. Prize giving was of course what all the men had really come for and I was touched that our team “Victorious Secrets” got a booby prize! Well “Most Enthusiastic” or something!!!
After the day’s clay shooting, it was back to London and it was the hugely important 25th anniversary party for HELLO Magazine. As a contributing Editor I have been lucky to have been involved with them for over 15yrs. Juliet Herd, my lovely Editor has always been a great supporter and I know she has a tough job sometimes! I had chosen a really fun but slightly Rock n Roll Skaist Taylor dress and some Tracey Ross stud heels. My sister Clare was riding with Giorgio and I, as was my long suffering agent & business partner Ghislain Pascal. The venue was the magificant Wallace Collection (where Stella McCartney held her 40th birthday celebrations) on Manchester Square. It’s very grand and perfect for the beautiful party they threw. Eduardo Sanchez, HELLO!’s head honcho had flown in from Spain, was with all the HELLO! family.
As we arrived England’s favourite cheeky blonde, Denise van Outen, was making her entrance. Once inside more photos and bang smack into Theo Fennell and his glorious wife-turned-novelist Louise. Our good friends, Stephen and Assia Webster were also there and I promptly set about stealing her incredible blue opal earrings. Jodie Kidd arrived with her pretty mother Wendy and naughty brother Jack and her beau Andrea. I had just met her little boy the day before and to say he is delicious would be an understatement. The room was heaving with people but John Cleese and his wife Jennifer Wade stood out. Giorgio found Joan Collins and her lovely Percy. She of course looked amazing in a black sequin trouser suit! She always exudess glamour. Patsy Palmer and her partner Richard were right at the front next to the stage and I wanted to say how much Violet had liked their little chap Bertie.
My all time favourite Stacey Young, wife of crooner Paul Young, arrived and you can hear her giggling from the other side of the room. There was just such a huge turnout of faces that have appeared in the magazine, it was great – having obviously seen their faces before you kept thinking you knew them! The champagne was definitely flowing and all you could really hear was laughter. I think that’s a great sign for any party. We then had a fabulous speech by Eduardo and our editors before no 1 artist Caro Emerald got up and sang her heart out – in such a wonderfully intimate venue it really was something special.
Finally whispering started and the one and only Rod Stewart was brought in with his gorgeous wife Penny Lancaster to sing a fun Happy Birthday. The room went mad and he was almost lynched! Our only complaint was that he didn’t play a full set!!! Realising we had an early flight to Milan the next day we slipped off, but not before being handed big red HELLO! goodie bags – fantastic treats and gifts, utterly spoiling. A really great night.