Hole in the calendar as Busson’s charity foundation postpones annual gala

Kasmira Jefford
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ONE OF the glitziest charity events in the social calendar has been shelved this year after running for more than a decade.

The organisers of the annual gala dinner for Ark (Absolute Return for Kids), the children’s charity founded by hedge fund tycoon Arpad Busson, said they had decided to postpone the event in favour of a smaller reception in January.

Lesley Smith, a spokesperson for the charity, said the decision to swap the £10,000-a-ticket dinner that has attracted a roll-call of Hollywood A-listers and wealthy City financiers for a low key event was “a sign of maturity”.

“The donors wanted more opportunities to meet the programme heads and get more feedback about what we are doing. The dinner is great – but it doesn’t give you as much opportunity to talk about the nitty-gritty,” Smith told City A.M.

Last year’s dinner, held at Kensington Palace Gardens and attended by more than 1,000 guests including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, raised £14.5m for the Ark charity, which funds children’s health and education projects in the UK and abroad. It raised as much as £27m at its pre-crisis peak in 2007. People familiar with the charitable organisation told the Financial Times that the dinner was being quietly mothballed by Ark’s trustees.

Smith said Ark “had not taken a view” yet whether to revive the event in the future.