A glittering celebrity gala dinner in London’s prestigious Goldsmiths Hall will have Hull very much at its heart.
Actress Gemma Oaten, who hails from the city, is organising the event to raise awareness of and funds for the charity she manages.
“Another Blooming Good Night with Gemma and Friends”, on Tuesday, October 26, follows a debut gala that Gemma, best known for her appearances in ITV soap Emmerdale, hosted back in 2018.
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A VIP reception will be followed by dinner, an auction and entertainment – including a singing spot by Gemma herself – and all in aid of SEED (Support and Empathy for people with Eating Disorders).
Gemma said: “It’s 21 years for SEED this year, which is amazing considering last year, we nearly closed.
“There was no money coming in and referrals were going through the roof, it was very hard.
“To say we are now doing this gala is wonderful and for me it’s a celebration of the fact we are still here and going strong, and a celebration of Mum and Dad.”
Gemma’s parents Marg and Dennis Oaten co-founded SEED when their daughter was struggling with an eating disorder that ended up blighting her life for 13 years.
“Mum and Dad really need to be take a step back now – Dad will be 75 in November; he’s just gone off for his latest block of treatment for cancer (Dennis was diagnosed with prostate cancer for a second time in 2018) and Mum is 70; she needs a back operation next year.
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“Hopefully we’re going to raise enough to be able to sustain the charity and give them a bit of a break as it’s been their whole life.
“It is their 38th wedding anniversary the day after the dinner so it will help to celebrate that too.”
Fellow Hull star Calum Scott will be performing at the dinner – “I am thrilled about that as he’s a Hull lad, I really want it to be a Hull and proud event even in the stunning venue that the Goldsmiths Hall is, I’m really surprised they are letting me in,” said Gemma, laughing.
“Dr Raj Singh is hosting it, he’s a great mate of mine. There will be other friends coming on and doing some turns and Philip Serrell will be conducting the auction for me.”
Gemma took part in the BBC’s Celebrity Antiques Road Trip with expert Philip, earlier this year.
“Matt Evers is donating ice skating lessons and Great British Menu chef Tom Brown is donating a private meal, he will come to someone’s house and cook for up to six people.
“Gaby Roslin will be coming for a little while – she came to the last gala dinner – but she has an early start the next day. It’s lovely that she will be showing support for the reception.”
Gemma, 37, admitted she was nervous about running the event, which has cost between £16,000 and £17,000 to stage and will be for almost 140 people.
“All of the people who are involved have a connection to the cause – it’s not about how many people I can fit in a room – and hopefully it will raise some money and that the essence of SEED continues.
“Unfortunately it is needed now more than ever.”
Gemma has recently been in Hull speaking with the Student Union at the University of Hull about launching a SEED educational toolkit there, similar to what the charity already has under way in local schools.
“The statistics never fail to shock me,” she said. “There are more and more teenagers and university-age people struggling.
“We are getting recognition now from both the Hull and East Riding Clinical Commissioning Groups, they are working with us to deliver a new programme about recovery, after recovery, helping people through different stages of their recovery from an eating disorder.
“We have come such a long way when you think that 21 years ago, Mum and Dad were standing in Princes Quay giving away pens and flyers.”
Gemma’s original “One Blooming Night with Gemma Oaten and Friends” was held at London's Hippodrome when she told the audience about her “hellish” experiences of a psychiatric unit where she spent 11 months as a child.
She said at the time: “Had my dad not taken me home from the psychiatric unit, I would have died.
'It all went wrong because it focused on getting the calories down me and not dealing with the reason I was struggling with an eating disorder.”
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