Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Celia Hammond gathers celebrity friends for charity teddy bears' picnic

Celia Hammond joins Rod Stewart and Dame Joan Collins for charity teddy bears' picnic

Celia Hammond wears black as she joins Rod Stewart in a silver suit and Joanna Lumley
Rosalind Powell
Contributing Editor
Share this:

When a select group of celebrity and high-profile animal-lovers came together at London’s Rosewood Hotel last week to raise money for charity, they brought with them a few furry friends. In the spirit of the fundraiser for the Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT) stars including Dame Joanna Lumley, Sir Rod Stewart, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Ruth Langsford and Dame Joan Collins came along with a teddy bear – from childhood, gifted or borrowed – for a very special afternoon picnic.

Former model Celia, who established her charity in 1986 to provide a rescue and rehoming service for abandoned cats (and a few dogs), as well as emergency surgery for those who can’t afford vet fees, was overwhelmed by the support in the room and by the staggering £250,000 that was raised. “I’m incredibly touched that people think enough of us to come along and see what’s going on,” she told HELLO!, which was invited as media partner to exclusively cover the event, organised by Mark Aldridge, patron of the Prince’s Foundation. “I’m so excited about this as we’ve never had anything like it. We just struggle along.”

Dame Joan Collins looks lovely in colourful dress and cream headband© Justin Goff
Dame Joan holds Celia the Cat, a one-off soft toy featuring a red velvet collar and gold-plated pendant

Taking place in the grand, mirrored room, which had been dressed with teddy bears handmade by traditional soft-toy maker Merry thought, it was a chance for people to catch up – including two of Celia’s long-standing friends, Dame Joanna and Sir Rod. The pair also happened to be old flames, having dated briefly in 1973.“She was my posh girlfriend,” said Rod. “We got on well, didn’t we, Joanna?” he asked the actress and campaigner, who nodded in agreement. “It was lovely.”

Rod Steward looks great in a silver suit with his teddy bear© Justin Goff
Sir Rod with a Celtic teddy

The singer had with him a small teddy wearing his beloved Celtic football team colours that had been thrown on stage once during a performance. “We can call him Joanna today,” he joked, when asked the bear’s name. Rod’s friendship with Celia goes back to the- 1960s, when she was the girlfriend of his bandmate Jeff Beck, the late guitarist. “Me and Ronnie [Wood] were so jealous,” he joked. 

Celia Hammond wears black as she holds cat teddy bear© Justin Goff
Celia with Celia the Cat

Joanna, who is a patron of the charity, was a fellow model. “But Celia was way above my pay grade,” she said. “There was not a magazine that didn’t have her beautiful face on it. She was huge, like Kate Moss, and a really fabulous model. “But when she’d go on shoots to places like Rome or Greece, she’d drive people mad because she’d feed all the cats and tuck the strays – the ones who were a bit wonky or angry – under her coat. She’s been animal mad since time began.”

Joanna Lumley wears colourful jacket as she plays guitar© Justin Goff
Joanna poses with Elvis’s original Hagstrom Viking II guitar

After guests had enjoyed their afternoon tea of sandwiches, scones and little bear-shaped cakes, and been serenaded by the King’s official harpist, Alis Huws, bids began for the two auction items: four tickets to see Andrea Bocelli in concert anywhere in the world, and a private audience with Johnny Depp playing a number on Elvis Presley’s original red Hagstrom Viking II guitar with Rod at London club The Ned. The latter went to a bidder for £200,000. “I’m going to love being part of such a special experience to help Celia,” said Rod, who, in an incredibly generous gesture, also bid £40,000 for the Bocelli tickets – and won. He has already played with Johnny in a couple of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall last month in tribute to Jeff Beck, and is preparing to go on tour with Boy George as his support act.

Joanna Lumley and Mark Aldridge , Patron The Prince's Foundation , play with guitar© Justin Goff
Joanna and Mark, Patron The Prince's Foundation, pose for a friendly photo

Photographs: Justin Goff

To read the full article, pick up the latest issue of HELLO! on sale now. Subscribe to HELLO! to get the magazine delivered free to your door every week or purchase the digital edition online via our Apple or Google apps.

More Celebrity News

See more