The Chance for Life Charity Ball took place at The Landmark, London, on 19 March. It is seven years now since Olga Makharinskaya and Elena Ragozhina started putting on charity events and raising funds for disadvantaged children.
Until last year, all the funds raised went to an orphanage for sick children, and to pay for treatment programmes. Now in its second year, the Chance for Life foundation was set up by Olga, Elena, and Karina Baldry to give financial support to various charitable organisations working with children. And this year as well, every effort possible is being made to help the remarkable Maria’s Children Art Rehabilitation Center that has played host to children from a number of orphanages over the past 17 years, providing them with drawing and music classes, psychological support, help with their education, summer camp holidays and even taking two groups of them on trips to London.
What made this latest Ball different from all the previous ones? Perhaps, the fact that for the first time it really was a London ball – not only because it was held in London, and nearly all the auction lots were donated by London-based Russian artists, photographers, businessmen, and art collectors. Virtually all the guests at the Ball were well acquainted, had supported the charitable foundation for some time, and realised that all the funds raised at the Ball would definitely help Maria Eliseeva and her Center implement beneficial programmes for orphanage children.
Guests at the Ball included Ambassador of the Russian Federation Alexander Yakovenko, Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, television presenters Nicholas Owen and Nicholas Parsons, and the most popular English jeweller Stephen Webster and his wonderful wife, Asya. Guests enthusiastically supported the auctions – the electronic bidding devices used in the silent auction added to the excitement, with everyone trying to outbid each other. A heated bidding battle was waged for the drumsticks, drumhead and CD signed by Deep Purple’s legendary and one and only drummer Ian Paice. The auctioneer instantly got two couples bidding for this lot. Passions ran high when Stephen Webster, much to the surprise and delight of the Ball organisers, offered a piece of jewellery as an auction prize, to be specially made for the winning bidder, and also dinner with himself and Asya. To help raise as much money as possible for the charity, Stephen and Asya are now making two pieces of jewellery – for two guests. When we thanked Asya for her support and generosity, she replied, “Why, this is charity – it’s worth it!”
Thanks to our sponsors and auction, we raised a total of £50,000. Funds this year will be going to help Maria carry out her Moscow projects, and also to finance a programme, whose primary aim is to give psychological and medical rehabilitation support to the children and adults caught up in the tragic events in Beslan. Part of the funds will go to provide scholarships and financial assistance to students from Beslan. Bursaries will be available to attend access to higher education courses. Volunteers (clowns and artists, local and foreign) from the Maria’s Children Center will be going to Beslan to put on creative workshops for all the schoolchildren interested in attending.
And now the most important part – to thank and list all the sponsors and artists who donated their works to the auction:
Eastlink Lanker Plc; IMS Industries Group; Anonymous donor from Switzerland; Bordeaux Index; Pijmani; Selfridges; English National Ballet; Getty Images; Ukrainian Airlines; Roman Pavlyuchenko; Olga Morozova; Olga Koletnik; Elena Glurdzhidze; David Mahateli and Natalie Kramer; Slava Polunin; Boodles; I. Knaster; V. Mikhailov; Victoria Christian; T. Gertik; Galina and Alexander Shlepyanov; Eugenia Lloret De Mar; Natalia Drygalo; Sisi Vayttser. Artists and photographers: Nina Krylova; Svetlana K-lee; Olga Novgorodtseva; Olga Baby; Anna Margulies; Peter Hambro; Maxim Nilov.
A big ‘thank you’ to all our guests for supporting us.
And many thanks to Russian Media House staff Tatiana Rodionova, Tatiana Chuvatkina, Yulia Belokurova, Elena Lapteva, and Vlad Shatunov.
Elena Ragozhina, Olga Makharinskaya, Karina Baldry
Directors, Chance for Life