Celebrity watch

This week Ricky Gervais stars in a cinema trailer for children's charity the Variety Club, GMTV presenter Ben Shephard and singer Lemar battle it out as Sport Relief's celebrity boxers and Charlotte Church became a patron of the Topsy Foundation.

Ricky Gervais, writer and star of BBC sitcoms The Office and Extras, is starring in a cinema trailer for children's charity the Variety Club.

The 20-second trailer will be broadcast throughout February in cinemas across the country to increase awareness of the charity, which supports sick, disabled and disadvantaged children. It is also designed to encourage people to join its Friends of Variety scheme.

Gervais stars alongside children from the Bridge School in north London. The charity has worked with the school, which teaches children with learning disabilities, for several years.

"In the past few years, I've seen the difference the Variety Club makes to disadvantaged children," says Gervais. "Making the trailer was a great laugh and I hope the kids from the Bridge School enjoyed it as much as I did."

GMTV presenter Ben Shephard and singer Lemar will battle it out in the ring as Sport Relief's celebrity boxers this year. The charity telethon, an annual fundraising initiative organised by Comic Relief and BBC Sport, will take place from 14 to 16 March. Both contestants will be mentored by professional boxers - Lemar by Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan and Shephard by former world champion Ricky Hatton.

Ian Holloway, manager of Leicester City Football Club, has been named as an ambassador of Deaf Parenting UK. "Being a parent with deaf children, I understand how difficult it can be," says Holloway. "All that matters to me in the world is my family, and I fully support Deaf Parenting UK and the excellent work it carries out."

Comedians Armstrong and Miller, Lee Mack and Shazia Mirza are among the acts who will perform in aid of War on Want at Shepherd's Bush Empire in west London this week. "We are delighted these top comedians have made this generous commitment to help raise funds with a special comedy gig," said Stefanie Pfeil, fundraising director at War on Want.

Actor James McAvoy was one of the stars to receive an award at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards, held in aid of the NSPCC last week. McAvoy, who missed out on a Bafta last week, won the British Actor of the Year award for his performance in Atonement. Daniel Day-Lewis won Actor of the Year for his turn in There Will Be Blood and French star Marion Cotillard took the award for Actress of the Year for her portrayal of singer Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose.

Singer Charlotte Church became a patron of the Topsy Foundation last year. The charity offers relief, care, medical and support services to people living with HIV and Aids in rural communities in South Africa.

"After Charlotte made a donation, we approached her with a request to become patron," says Sian Venturotti, development manager at the foundation. "We knew through her financial support that the issue of HIV and Aids, in particular how it affects families, was one she greatly sympathised with.

"We were looking to raise our profile in the UK and felt that she would help us achieve this. At the time, Charlotte was preparing to start a family of her own and expressed a desire to help others in less privileged circumstances."

To date, Church has talked about the work of the foundation in her press interviews and on her website. She says: "It's an honour to be involved with the foundation. It brings genuine benefit to people affected by HIV and Aids."


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