AS AN elite bunch of the City’s most successful ladies and gentlemen left the Mansion House last night after a fundraising “Passion and Performance” evening hosted by Lord Mayor Nick Anstee, they should have been justifiably proud.
For between just 320 guests from blue-blooded institutions such as Barclays, Accenture, Linklaters, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Icap, PricewaterhouseCoopers and SJ Berwin, a grand total of £116,925 was raised at the evening for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, Pitch Perfect – proving that for all the banker-bashers out there grumbling about hefty bonus payouts, the City remains just as generous-hearted as it has always been.
Master auctioneer Nick Bonham was on hand to squeeze pennies out of the guests – which he did with flair, starting by auctioning off a measly tenner for £270.
The event also played host to star percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who wowed those present with a virtuoso performance; ex-England women’s cricket captain Clare Connor, who once led the side to their first Ashes win in 42 years; and actress Imelda Staunton, who raised £1,000 by bursting into an impromptu rendition of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Why walk when you can fly?”
The prize for best-dressed lady of the evening went to event chair Gay Huey Evans, vice chairman of investment banking and investment management at Barclays Capital, in a show-stopping red dress. “Everyone has remarked about my gown,” she told the audience, “and yes, I wore red because it signifies passion!”
I’m told Huey Evans – Barclays’ diversity queen – somehow found the time to organise the event alongside both her demanding job and a full-day conference on Monday for no less than 2,500 of the firm’s female employees to mark International Women’s Day.
All that, and she also tells me Pitch Perfect – which supports the Cricket Foundation and the London Symphony Orchestra – is a cause close to her heart, since she has a history (take a deep breath) of playing the piano, the organ, the flute, the oboe… and singing in Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. Try getting all that onto a single-page CV.
Also spotted working the room at last night’s gala dinner: one Donald Brydon, the chairman of Royal Mail, who’s certainly been keeping his role as chairman of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal rather quiet.
Brydon steadfastly rebutted questions about the appointment of outgoing Royal Mail chief Adam Crozier’s replacement, but he was happy to talk about his patronship of the LSO, his love of cricket – and his even greater love of Reading football club.
Dedication indeed from Brydon, then – since he missed out last night on a rare emphatic victory from Reading, over fellow Championship strugglers Derby County.
Never mind, there could always be a next time...