Celebrity watch

Arthur Smith supports Brooke's Horses in Need appeal

Arthur Smith
Arthur Smith

Comedian and broadcaster Arthur Smith, who starred in the BBC's Grumpy Old Men, is promoting the Brooke's nationwide appeal, Horses in Need.

The appeal is taking place throughout this month, with supporters organising events to raise money for the charity's work providing free veterinary care for horses and donkeys worldwide, as well as training for their owners.

Smith, who is currently performing in a one-man show around the country, posed with working donkeys from Clovelly in north Devon, and 'Abbla', a donkey costume representing a working animal overseas, to publicise the appeal. Smith said: "I feel an affinity with this donkey, Abbla, with its grumpy demeanour and put-upon look.

"But I lead a rather better life: I don't work as hard and I get paid substantially more."

- Mackenzie Crook, who played Gareth in sitcom The Office, has narrated a popular storybook that has been adapted for blind or partially sighted children by the charity Living Paintings. The actor provided the voice for Misery Moo by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross. The adapted version contains colourful images of the main characters and scenes with an audio description on CD or cassette. Crook says: "Living Paintings is a brilliantly simple idea to help blind and partially sighted children appreciate beautifully illustrated books."

- Gail Porter, the presenter, and model Rachel Hunter are supporting Battersea Dogs & Cats Home's annual Walk a Dog to School Day. The sponsored walk, which will raise funds for the charity, takes place on 10 October. Porter says: "Anyone can take part because you don't necessarily have to own a dog yourself - maybe a neighbour or a family friend has a dog just panting for a walk."

- Cortes, the Icelandic opera singer, will donate all the proceeds of his forthcoming single Hunting High and Low to housing charity Shelter. The track, to be released on 23 July, is a cover of the single by 80s Norwegian pop group A-Ha. The singer became involved with Shelter after he performed a free concert at the Royal Opera House in London to support the charity's Wall of Shame campaign.

- Linford Christie, the Olympic gold medal-winning former athlete, pictured here with Jay and Oliver Baylis, visited the Rainbow Trust's first garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show. The charity, of which Christie is a long-term supporter, helps the families of seriously ill children.

- Shakespearean actor Brian Blessed, known for his trademark booming voice, has just become a vice-patron of Dogs for the Disabled.

In March 2008, Blessed and other supporters of Dogs for the Disabled will begin a five-day, 100km trek from the Dead Sea to the ancient city of Petra to raise money for the charity. The 69-year-old star of I Claudius and Much Ado About Nothing is an adventurer as well as a distinguished actor and has climbed Mount Everest three times.

Blessed is enthusiastic about his trek to Jordan and urges others to get involved. "Not only is this the challenge of a lifetime, but you will be changing the lives of so many disabled adults and children," he says.

He became involved with the charity after seeing how trained dogs can "quite literally change lives". Blessed recently visited the charity's national training centre, where dogs are trained to aid the disabled by opening doors and helping them undress.


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