Terrence Higgins Trust’s (THT) Friends Dinner, hosted by Stephen Fry, which has raised over £350,000 so far, last night to support vital services for people living with and affected by HIV.
Fry was joined at the annual event by Olivier Award winning actress, Noma Dumezweni, who played Hermione in Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, as well as Nancy Dell’Ollio, and star of BBC’s drama War and Peace, actress Greta Scacchi.
Dr Christian, dancer Wayne Sleep, comedian David Morgan, and Welsh fashion designer Jeff Banks also showed their support for the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity.
Stephen Fry spoke passionately about supporting people living with HIV, and invited guests to make a personal pledge of support to Terrence Higgins Trust during the dinner.
As one of Terrence Higgins Trust’s flagship fundraising events, the annual Friends Dinner has, over the years, raised more than £7 million to support people living with and affected by HIV and poor sexual health.
Nancy Dell’Ollio, who attended the event, said: “I’m a long-term supporter of Terrence Higgins Trust because I see all the wonderful services and benefits that this charity provides and I know that there is still so much to be done for those living with HIV. If I can play just the smallest part in helping to create awareness of HIV by coming to events like this, then of course I will do it.”
The annual event is held in early summer every year at a prestigious London venue and is attended by the Trust’s closest friends and celebrity supporters.
Hackney-born, multi-platinum selling singer, Gabrielle, performed classic hits including Rise, Out of Reach and Dreams Can Come True.
Claire McMasters, Fundraising Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Last night’s Friends Dinner showcased the support, dedication and generosity of so many to ensuring people living with HIV are supported to live well, free from stigma and discrimination. Thank you to everyone who made this year’s dinner another fantastic success, and to our Friends President, Stephen Fry, for being a wonderful ambassador for our cause.”
Ballet dancer, Wayne Sleep, who also attended the evening, said: “Initially HIV was thought of by many as only a homosexual virus, but Terrence Higgins Trust was fundamental in awareness that it can affect everyone. As a member of the Trust, I’m able to bring awareness to people in my profession.”
Actress Greta Scacchi, known for her role as Countess Natalya Rostova in BBC and Netflix drama War and Peace, added: “Though HIV may have slipped from the public conscience, there are still over 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK alone. Terrence Higgins Trust does a remarkable job of supporting those individuals and their families and continues the battle to eradicate the virus. I’m at this dinner to meet some of the angels who keep Terrence Higgins Trust up and running and show my support.”
Jeff Banks, Welsh fashion designer, said: “I remember back to the 1980’s when HIV and Aids was a whisper that quickly became a roar. I owned a company that at the time had many gay employees, and everybody was really scared. Then one of our colleagues was diagnosed with AIDS and died within three months.
“Terrence Higgins trust quickly became a beacon of hope for many of my friends which is why I supported it then and continue to do so to this day.