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Penny Moore, Hospitality Action charity chief executive and ball organiser

22 September 2006

Catering industry charity Hospitality Action is holding its annual fundraising ball for 800 of the sector's great and good at London's Grosvenor House hotel on 13 October. Charity chief executive and ball organiser Penny Moore talks to Emily Manson

For those who don't already know, what does Hospitality Action do?
It's the hospitality industry's benevolent society. The charity aims to help people who have worked in the industry, either financially or with physical support. It's also involved in education via the Ark Foundation, which warns people of the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.

Why is the ball important?
Not only is it our largest fundraising event of the year, it also brings together all the senior people in the industry. It's a good, fun night but it also raises money for a good cause.

What's happening this year?
It's got a cool blue theme based around the martini glass in recognition of cocktails coming back into fashion. The evening will begin with a Champagne reception followed by a three-course dinner with wine. Then there's lots of entertainment, from the All Stars Band, who are going to do a "Blues Brothers" session, to an auction, jugglers and a casino - and, of course, all the money raised goes to the charity.

What's new?
We always have awards on the night - the President's Award for the company that's raised the most money; the Ambassador's Award for giving the charity a profile; and our mascot, the Harvey's Hero Award for someone who's not in the public light but works really hard behind the scenes. This year we're also introducing the Ark Foundation Award, to recognise a company that takes its corporate social responsibility seriously and has an outstanding drug and alcohol policy.

What's the hardest thing about organising it?
Ensuring that, in an industry which is used to having big fancy events all the time, the night is still different, entertaining and has a wow factor. There's the organisational side too. It's all the additional little details that make the event special on the night.

Who comes?
Anyone from the industry. In the past, we've had people like Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal, John Williams, Anton Mosimann, Gary Rhodes, Anton Edelmann, Garry Hawkes and Bob Cotton.

Who benefits?
We raise over £1m a year and we mainly support people with life-threatening illnesses or those struggling with severe financial hardship. Half of our beneficiaries are currently working in the industry and are under 60. For example, we help one contract catering supervisor whose eight-year-old daughter is a quadriplegic.

How much is a ticket and how do I get one?
A table of 10 is £1,700, or individual tickets are £175. For tickets, just e-mail astrid@hospitalityaction.org.uk.

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