Celebrity watch

Former health minister Edwina Currie supports Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Currie took part in Marie Curie Cancer Care's sponsored bike rides to Poland and Paris in 2004.

Being a keen cyclist, the former MP and writer came up with the idea for the Great 500 Cycle Challenge 2006. She made more than 200 press appearances to publicise the event, which went on to raise more than £1.3m for Marie Curie.

Currie, picturered here with Marie Curie vice-president Sir Bill Cotton, was given an Above and Beyond trophy for her efforts at the charity's annual volunteer awards last autumn.

Currie became involved with the charity because the first wife of her husband, John Jones, had cancer and spent her last days in a Marie Curie hospice in Caterham, Surrey.

"Edwina is exceptionally committed to our cause and has a great understanding of the work the charity does," says Clair Whitefield, PR executive at Marie Curie. " She was willing to speak to journalists at a moment's notice, generating an unprecedented amount of coverage."

 

McFly, the popular boy band, will follow the progress of a litter of puppies being trained to become guide dogs as part of the band's new role as 'guiding stars' for Guide Dogs. The puppies have been named after the band members, who will also help educate young people about the work of the charity.

Tom Fletcher from McFly says: "I love dogs, so it's just awesome to have a litter of guide dog pups named after our band. These puppies will one day make a huge difference to the lives of people with sight loss, and I'm really proud to be following them on that journey."

There are currently 4,700 working guide dogs in the UK, and more than 1,000 guide dog puppies are born every year.

Alan Bennett, the author and dramatist, performed a special one-man show at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds earlier this month to raise money for HFT, the charity for people with learning disabilities. In Another Evening with Alan Bennett, the writer repeated the format of his 2002 fundraising performance, reading extracts from some of his work. The event raised £14,000.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is supporting Go Red for Women, an international campaign by the World Heart Federation. The campaign is being launched in more than 30 countries, including the UK, to raise awareness about heart disease and strokes, which kill 8.6 million women every year - more than HIV and Aids, all cancers, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Zeta-Jones is the face of cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden, which has signed an international three-year agreement with the World Heart Federation to support the Go Red for Women campaign.

Aldo Zilli, the celebrity chef, helped to launch Save the Children's new ethically traded Fair Instant coffee in London last week. The brand supports coffee farmers and 20p from each jar will go to Save the Children.

The charity aims to raise £200,000 in the first year to support its programme in Colombia.

Liz Smith, who played Nana in hit comedy The Royle Family, is encouraging people to help raise money for Help the Aged by selling their old mobile phones on www.mopay.co.uk. In March the charity will receive a donation from Mopay for every phone sold on its website. Smith says: "This is a great system that benefits you, the charity and the environment."

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