Actress Joanna Lumley staged an ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ night at Lingfield Park when she persuaded generous racegoers to part with thousands of pounds to help young disabled adults. Seventeen years after opening The Orpheus Centre, the stage and screen star joined its founder Sir Richard Stilgoe and a host of fellow celebrities as they celebrated the work of the Godstone-based charity.
“I am thrilled to be back here with this fantastic charity,’ she said as she mingled with racegoers at the Surrey course.”Dicky (Richard Stilgoe) does an amazing job helping young disabled adults prepare for independent living through the performing arts and it is lovely to be part of this special event.”
The Midsummer party also saw Bond star and regular Lingfield visitor Dame Judi Dench, Who Wants to be a Millionaire presenter Chris Tarrant, former TV presenter Michael Aspel and author Felix Francis join other Orpheus supporters for the celebration. While students from The Orpheus Centre staged a heart-warming performance, volunteers for the charity carried out a bucket collection around the course and were supported by generous racegoers.
Helping to raise the profile of The Orpheus Centre, were Maddie and Sunshine, a pair of miniature Shetland ponies who are starting to visit the Godstone charity to work with its students in therapy sessions.
Tricia Kilby, who owns the ponies, said she was delighted to be helping, adding:”I rescued this mum and baby and they have come such a long way. I would love to be able to use them all the time for charity work and love the fact that The Orpheus Centre is keen for us to visit and carry out some therapy work with their students.”
The Orpheus Centre first visited Lingfield Park in 2013 and staged a successful fund-raising evening – again hosted by Joanna Lumley.This time, the date co-incided with the Hooves and Grooves series, which saw tribute act, Elton & The Rocket Band perform to a packed course after racing.
Andrew Perkins, Executive Director of Lingfield Park said he was delighted the neighbouring charity had chosen to once again hold its celebrations at the racecourse:
“We are thrilled whenever we can team up with our local charities to try and highlight the valuable work they carry out,” he explained. “Sir Richard, Joanna Lumley, Dame Judi and the rest of the guests were a delight to have with us.Our racegoers were over-the-moon to see such a prestigious line up of guests and Joanna couldn’t have been more generous with her time for all her fans who were with us on Saturday.”
To mark the occasion, and highlight the fabulous work carried out by The Orpheus Centre’s talented students, each winner in the seven-racecard fixture, was presented with a unique hand-made stain-glass horse head, crafted by the students.