Friday 2 December 2016

The Edge: Victoria jets in from LA for charity that's close to her heart

Published 26/09/2016 | 02:30

Victoria Smurfit will be MC for the event
Victoria Smurfit will be MC for the event
Composer Patrick Cassidy with former president Mary McAleese
Gay Byrne and Kathleen Watkins with Sophie White, as she launched her debut cookbook last week at Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen at The Little Museum of Dublin in Stephens Green. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Carol Anthony and her beau Ian Rush
Jules Coll has laid out her plans for romance
Lorraine Keane, left, and Gillian Hennessy at the annual Boots Christmas Showcase

I'm with Bob Hope on this. If you haven't got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.

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The incomparable Victoria Smurfit and her somewhat well-known family clearly are not lacking on this score...

Next Thursday at the National Museum in South Kensington in London, Victoria will act as master of ceremonies at the Friendship Ball.

"We are hoping to raise a million at the live auction," said the beautiful Irish actress who has risen to international fame, indeed acclaim, for her role as Cruella De Vil in ABC's Once Upon a Time (it seems like another lifetime that Victoria played yer wan Orla O'Connell in the BBC's Ballykissangel in the late 1990s, doesn't it?).

"It's a fund raiser for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin. It is the only time the two hospitals have joined forces," Victoria told me - before going on to reflect that "because unfortunately my younger brother Charlie dealt with childhood illness and dad and his friends came together to give back to the hospitals that cared for him so very, very well," said Victoria adding that her bro "is thankfully okay. And a seriously smart and talented kid to boot! It's not my story to tell. It's his.

"My story is that I am MC-ing it for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity," Victoria said, adding that her dear dad Dermot Smurfit and Peter Gleeson and "many more Irish and English" will be attending this very worthwhile event in London.

Indeed, Victoria herself is jetting in from her home in Los Angeles with possibly her new gentleman in her life, film-maker Alistair Ramsden in tow.

"Heather Small and Jack Savoretti are performing on the night. It's dear to me as the hospitals have been terribly good to us as a family."

Patrick home for concert, James takes Manhattan and Dean does the same in LA

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Composer Patrick Cassidy with former president Mary McAleese

Fresh off the plane from his adopted home  of Los Angeles,  famous classical music composer Patrick Cassidy was gearing for the performance of his Children Of Lir tour-de-force next Thursday in the National Concert Hall. His VBF Patrick Bergin will narrate. Several of the pieces from 1916: The Irish Rebellion - the documentary that Patrick scored the soundtrack for and which his other pal Liam Neeson narrated - will also be performed on the night, chief among them, Mise Éire, performed by Patrick's niece, Sibéal Ni Chasaide.

"The documentary has sold into more than 70 countries worldwide," Patrick told me over dinner last week. "The Keogh Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at Notre Dame University in Illinois made this documentary happen. Liam did an incredible job of the narration. We met with him at a première screening of 1916 at Notre Dame in March and he was so passionate about his involvement."

"Martin Naughton [founder Glen Dimplex] goes way back with us," Patrick continued, "as he used to sing in an Irish choir with our parents in Shannon town. This was during the early days of the duty-free industrial estate there. It could not have happened without him!" said Patrick, adding that his local tavern in LA, The Laurel Hardware, is owned by another cool Irish entrepreneur, Dean McKillen. "It's less than five minutes walk from the house in West Hollywood. I've met Dean a good few times. A really nice fellow!"

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast of America, another young Irish hipster James Morrissey is taking Manhattan - or the East Village - with his new trendy spot The VNYL (he has also The Late Late on East Houston Street). I'd like to put it on record that Adrian Grenier (of HBO Entourage superstardom) is The VNYL's music director.

Sophie imitates art at launch

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Gay Byrne and Kathleen Watkins with Sophie White, as she launched her debut cookbook last week at Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen at The Little Museum of Dublin in Stephens Green

It was life imitating art. En route to the launch last Tuesday evening of her sublime and sumptuous new cookbook/memoir, Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown at Hatch & Sons on Stephen's Green, Sophie White almost had a nervous meltdown due to her car being clamped. Add into this volatile emotional mix, the very fact that Sophie is about to go into labour any minute with her second child, and you have the first chapter of her next book perhaps . . .

It was life imitating art. En route to the launch last Tuesday evening of her sublime and sumptuous new cookbook/memoir, Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown at Hatch & Sons on Stephen's Green, Sophie White almost had a nervous meltdown due to her car being clamped. Add into this volatile emotional mix, the very fact that Sophie is about to go into labour any minute with her second child, and you have the first chapter of her next book perhaps . . .

Brendan O'Connor - Sophie's editor at LIFE magazine where she is a scintillating columnist of some note - launched the divine cookbook cum candid memoir with a hilarious speech in which he dubbed Sophie a visionary who has discovered the new Zeitgeist in food writing ("we are looking at a world-class writer" said Brendan) before the acclaimed author herself spoke.

And utterly hilarious she was too. Due to being so full of hormones, she admitted that the tiniest things set her off these days - chief among them, Aero Mint. "I cried when the shop didn't have them," she lamented.

Sophie also said she wanted to thank her mother "but she didn't want to be referred to directly, thus making it difficult to thank her for being the most, generous inspiring, warm, funny, original, kind woman in the world". Sophie did, however, suggest, that "we use this launch to have a formal umbilical cord-cutting ceremony."

Formal umbilical cord-cutting ceremony or not, everyone from Gay and Kathleen, Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne, Stefanie Preissner (writer of RTE's fab new series Can't Cope Won't Cope), renowned sculptor John Coll to food writer Susan Jane White pitched up to support Sophie in her new endeavour. And enjoy the food, prepared by Domini Kemp of Hatch & Sons from recipes from Sophie's book: fried bacon and brie mini sambos, peanut butter fudge, cocunut truffles and buckets of wine.

Doubtless such delights helped soften the blow for Sophie of her car being clamped.

And, indeed, of her mother being un-named.

Ian & Niall help raise fortune for Mater

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Kildare was full of swingers last Wednesday night. Plus ca change. I'm talking about the glam gala dinner at the magnificent MoyValley Hotel Golf Resort Kildare after the The 106th Irish PGA Championship on the Twin Oaks Championship Course.

Everyone from Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor to Carol Anthony and her beau Ian Rush, and one of the hotel's owners Rita Shah, attended this swish soiree. Ian Rush, who is a patron of the Shabra Charity that the beano was in aid of, told me that they have raised €590,000 so far for St Luke's and the Mater hospital, as well as €100,000 next week to "get a life-support machine for the Mater hospital,". Earlier that day, the ex-Liverpool deity played in the PGA for charity with fellow legends of footie Niall Quinn and Steve Staunton. Ian, "surprisingly enough," his other half, Carol, above with Ian, told me, "played well."

Tinder is not the night for Jules but she falls for Joe aka The Body Coach

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Jules Coll has laid out her plans for romance

Don't write off Jules Coll's love life just yet. The 37-year-old brunette, who famously lost nine stone, was on a date last Monday afternoon in the Lighthouse Cafe in Cherrywood. Sadly, it left her  "bitterly disappointed". The author of Flabyrinth could "instantly" tell there was "no Disney fireworks surrounding the table - and it was straight to the friend zone." Oh, diddums.

Later that night, her luck seemed to change, and not with the guy she met on Tinder for afternoon coffee that day. Tinder is the night? Tinder is the afternoon.

Anyway, while surfing the Snapchat of Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach, Jules decided to send him a message, including a picture of the book charts, adding how amazing it felt to be listed up there beside his books in the top five.

"And my knickers spontaneously combusted when he replied!" Jules said, not explaining fully the difference between Disney fireworks on a date and the spontaneous combustion of her underwear in the expectation of a date. "He said congrats and that he thought Flabyrinth was an awesome name. I sent a photo of the book cover in the hopes that he'd instantly recognise me as his future wife."

And did he?

"He said: 'I looked amazing.'" Which she does. "I'm going to marry The Body Coach. A girl can dream, can't she?"

Brooke McVeigh & gals out in style for charity event in Scotland

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Lorraine Keane, left, and Gillian Hennessy at the annual Boots Christmas Showcase

The girls were out in force last weekend - albeit in Scotland. Brooke McVeigh, Lisa Harrison Botham and Stephanie Desmond attended a red carpet charity event at Archerfield Links last weekend in Dirleton, East Lothian.

It was all for Lisa's father in-law Ian Botham's charity, Beefy's Charity Foundation. Brooke was in a long red evening gown, Lisa wore a white bandage dress while Stephanie wore a multi-coloured skirt and black top.

There was plenty of ultra glamour closer to home, too. At the RHA Gallery in Ely Place last Wednesday, in particular, for the annual Boots Christmas Showcase, chief among them was UTV Ireland's Alison Comyn (who looked stunning in festive red), RTE's Kathryn Thomas (who looks good in anything) and Lorraine Keane (who came along with daughter Romy), plus models Thalia Heffernan and Aoife Walsh.

They all enjoyed No7 makeovers and Liz Earle hand massages while listening to Christmas songs. The stylish soiree was hosted by Boots Ireland human dynamo, aka Head of Marketing, Gillian Hennessy, who had the gallery transformed into a Christmas Wonderland with endless beauty gift ideas (in case my wife is reading this).

Be warned only 90 shopping days to go!

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