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High note as music charity raises £90,000 in a night

Date: Friday 21st June 2013
Annie Mawson (right) cheering with Liesl McViety, project co-ordinator for Sunbeams Music Trust, who organised the silent auction.
Annie Mawson (right) cheering with Liesl McViety, project co-ordinator for Sunbeams Music Trust, who organised the silent auction.

A FUND-raising auction which made nearly £90,000 for an Eden-based music therapy charity left organisers feeling “overjoyed”.

The Sunbeams Music Trust took centre stage at the glittering event, which was held at LSO St. Luke’s, the home of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Sunbeams was launched 21 years ago by founder Annie Mawson, of Tirril, and is now one of the largest arts in health charities in the country. Its base is in premises on the Greystoke Castle Estate and provides music therapy to those with special needs, including physical and mental disabilities.

Each month the charity delivers music therapy to more than 1,400 people with a wide range of disabilities. The auction was part of a push to raise nearly £2 million towards a national centre for the charity, described as a “sustainable legacy for disabled people, whose lives can be transformed by the power of music”.

A total of £1.2 million has already been raised and the auction was a big step towards raising the remaining funds necessary to make the national centre a reality.

Wielding the auctioneer’s hammer expertly on the night was author and former MP Lord Jeffrey Archer. In a blog later, he said: “This was one of the happiest auctions I’ve ever attended, and Annie Mawson, the founder, and her workers from Cumbria are all that is good in a charity no extra expenses, no hangers-on, everybody playing their part, from the pie man to the Lord Lieutenant. Events like this serve to remind me how lucky I am to have two healthy children and a healthy grandson.”

Lord Archer presided over the sale of lots ranging from a rare Picasso lino cut to an eight-day trip to Delhi, a three-night spa break at the Gilpin Lake House, Windermere, a day of wild trout fishing with the president of the Rivers Trust and two tickets for London Fashion Week.

Another lot included two nights at the Michelin starred L’Enclume, at Cartmel, and a guided walk with Rory Stewart, Penrith and the Border MP. A host of other lots also had the bids pouring in from the 130 guests on the night.

A silent auction for a further set of lots also proved popular and had the audience reaching for their cheque books.

Between each sale item, a short video was shown of the people who benefit from Sunbeams’ work.

The evening’s entertainment also featured a “heads and tails” game to win a stunning diamond necklace valued at £1,200.

A drinks and canape reception was followed by a magnificent “Lakeland Picnic Feast”, featuring some of Cumbria’s finest produce.

The menu featured, among other things, Cranstons’ best-selling Ullswater pie, cheese from Appleby Creamery, and after dinner sweets from Penrith’s famous Toffee Shop.

Musical entertainment was provided by Steven Shears and Annie Mawson, who sang Wonderful World to great applause.

Sunbeams vice-chairman Ife Akintunde had the crowd in tears with his rendition of The Greatest Love of All and, finally, the Locrian Ensemble, led by their director, Justin Pearson, and joined by West End star Jill Washington, brought the house down with a collection of songs delivered in stunning period costume.

“We were overjoyed to be Cumbrian ambassadors in London,” Annie told the Herald. “We worked so hard, and all the Sunbeams staff were brilliant.”

With pledges and and donations still coming in, the total raised by the event so far is approaching £90,000,” she said.

BELOW: Annie Mawson (right) cheering with Liesl McViety, project co-ordinator for Sunbeams Music Trust, who organised the silent auction.

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