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Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Actress Denise Welsh hosting Dancing in the streets  in aid of the Gem Appeal
with dashing son actor Louie Healy and artist husband Lincoln Townley

It was all “Dancing in the Streets” in Manchester on Saturday night, as the annual Denise Welch Charity ball kicked off in The Marquee at the historic, Old Trafford Football Club.

This is the 14th year the  actress has  hosted the ball and the north’s biggest stars turned out along with Manchester’s high society crowd as they joined Denise to raise funds for the GEM appeal. The actress has been a patron of the charity for 19 years and it is very close to her heart.

Denise Welch takes to the stage to host the 14th annual ball for the Gem appeal she is presented with a gift form the charity by Karen Johnson the chairman of the charity 

GEM – genetics, enzymes, metabolics – was founded in 1994 by Karen Johnson, who recently won a Pride of Britain award. She founded the charity after being approached by Consultant Paediatrician Dr Ed Wraith, who asked her to raise money to help fund the disorder that her two sons, Simon and Mike, were dying from.

At that time there was no treatment and no hope for children diagnosed with these rare genetic disorders and very little research work was being done.

Along with Ed and a few other likeminded parents and health professionals, the fundraising began and The GEM Appeal was born.

The fundraising began in earnest and by 1999 the first £250,000 had been raised from a number of different events, mainly in the north west of England. Before long, the research was under way in a laboratory named after Karen’s sons and progress was rapid and successful.

Sadly, Karen’s sons both died around this time but the research work brought hope to other families, as trials of enzyme replacement therapy became available to others, with promising results.

Karen's sons Simon and Mike 

As the years went by, other fundraising supporters came on board and the GEM Appeal trustees and committee in Rochdale spearheaded the fundraising drive. Denise and her former husband, veteran actor Tim Healy, became staunch supporters and have contributed enormously to the success of the appeal by gathering support from other stars and celebrities from the world of TV.

The evening was organised by Julia Arnold and her amazing team at Entertainment Today, the leading events company in the North. The partygoers were welcomed with a glittering champagne reception, followed by a five star dinner as go-go dancers in huge platform heels boogied to seventies music.

Singing senstaion Gwen Dickey with Gem appeal chairman Karen Johnson
Julie  Arnold  organiser  of the ball   with Lincoln Townley . Denise with father Vin Welch . lincoln Townley with actor John Tompson 

The evening’s entertainment kicked off with the handsome former Coronation Street star Scott Wright singing Stevie Wonder’s Superstition followed by stars from the seventies headlined by Gwen Dickey, the R&B artist and lead singer of the band Rose Royce, and including the legendary Real Thing, Roy G Hemmings and The Dictionary of Soul.

left Handsome Scott Wright kicked off the evening, partying with Bafta award winning writer Darren Little and X Factor winner  Shayne  Ward 

Singer  Actor Scott Wright and his stunning girlfriend Danielle  Roland.

Needless to say, that had the celebrity-packed audience on their feet dancing and the Real Housewives of Cheshire were on hand to add extra glamour. Dawn Ward and Ampika Pickston were on good form and looked stunning.

Real Housewives of Cheshire star  the beautiful Ampika Pikston with me. 
Stunning Real Houswives of Cheshire star stunning Dawn Ward and Physic to the stars Katie Keely Medium 

Heartthrob Shayne Ward had all the ladies - and a few lads – lining up for a picture. The X Factor winner is proving his acting skills in Coronation Street and joined fellow cast member Alan Hassal, aka Tyrone Dobbs, for the evening. 

Denise was there with her artist husband Lincoln Townley, her dad Vin Welch (who out-danced most of us) and her son, actor Louie Healy. Lincoln and Denise had just returned from Los Angeles, where Lincoln’s artwork has become a ‘must have’ for many Hollywood stars.

Also in attendance were Denise’s actress friends from the original Loose Women, Jane MacDonald, Lisa Maxwell and Jackie Brambles who joined  Denise on stage to sing along for the big finale with The Real Thing  singing "You to me are everything .

Singing sensation and former loose Women  Jane MacDonald 
Irish singer  and actress wonderful  Rose-Marie danced the night away with friend Janice  Middleton 

After a brilliant night, everyone left with a goody bag filled with treats, including my favourite - a bottle of Hyalual UK AquaLual meltwater. 

There were some amazing auction prizes and the celebrity crowd was hugely generous for this great cause. I’m not how much was raised but I’ll keep you posted.

 END  Copy right Steven Smith 

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