Celebrity watch

This week Sophie Okonedo visits the UN Refugee Agency's Experience Darfur event, and DJ Neil Fox supports Trees for Cities.

Support: UN Refugee Agency

Actors Okonedo, who was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Hotel Rwanda, and Wise, who played Willoughby in the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility, visited the UN Refugee Agency's Experience Darfur event in London's Trafalgar Square last month as part of World Refugee Day.

The organisation attempted to give visitors a taste of life in the troubled region of Sudan by constructing a reproduction of a burnt-out Darfuri village hut and mock refugee camp. The site included four family tents with interactive games. After touring the square, Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, announced that the number of refugees under UNHCR's responsibility had risen in 2007 for the second successive year, to 11.4 million.

[BX] Andy Gomarsall, the England and Harlequins rugby union player, joined communication disability charity St Catherine's at a reception earlier this month to help raise awareness of speech, language and communication disabilities and celebrate becoming a patron of the charity. Gomarsall spoke about the highs and lows of his rugby career and how his own communication skills have helped him.

Radio and TV presenter Neil Fox helped Trees for Cities to launch the second phase of its Great Trees of London campaign in the gardens of Fulham Palace, west London, earlier this month. After the storm in 1987, the charity asked Londoners to nominate the capital's landmark trees. A total of 41 were selected and given 'Great Tree' status, with a plaque erected next to each one. Under the new initiative, Trees for Cities intends to identify 20 more trees that would be given Great Tree status.

Former EastEnders actor Martin Kemp and Mathew Bose, who plays Paul Lambert in ITV1 soap Emmerdale, attended the Encephalitis Society's fundraising charity ball in Bristol last week. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, usually caused by infection.

Honor Blackman, the actor who played Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger, had her eyes tested in support of Action for Blind People's campaign to encourage people to do the same to help prevent sight loss. Research by the charity shows that one in four adults didn't know an eye test could prevent them from losing their sight.

 - Action Medical Research held an anniversary party for Paddington Bear, its official mascot, in London last month to celebrate the 50 years since A Bear Called Paddington was published.

As its figurehead, the bear has helped the charity to raise millions of pounds through fundraising events such as its annual Bring Your Bear day, which invites children to take their favourite teddies into school in return for small donations.

The relationship began in 1976 after a chance meeting between Michael Bond, Paddington's creator, and Duncan Guthrie, the founder of AMR. Bond was inundated with approaches from charities asking for support, but felt that by supporting AMR, which funds medical research work in universities and hospitals across the UK, he could help a range of people suffering from various diseases and disabilities.

 - graham.willgoss@haymarket.com

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