16 August 2002

Have a night out and raise funds

ORGANISERS hope more than 5000 supporters will return to London three weeks after the Countryside March for a special evening at the Royal Albert Hall.

The fund-raising event, called Whip Craic, will feature music and dance from the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and members of the Royal Ballet. It will take the form of a variety show on Oct 16.

Countryside Alliance leaders are eager to raise funds as they step up the campaign against government attempts to ban hunting with hounds. Concert organiser Maggie Heath arranged a similar Farm Aid event last year which raised £360,000 for rural communities hit by foot-and-mouth.

Talks are taking place with a "major rock star" who may top the bill in front of an audience of 5225 people, a spokesman told farmers weekly. But the evening will also include "suitably politically incorrect, highly amusing and entertaining stars from the world of music, comedy, theatre and ballet".

Celebrities who have already signed up for variety show include former Bond Girl Honor Blackman, actors Anthony Andrews and Robert Hardy and actress Patricia Hodge. Dillie Keane, from the cabaret trio Fascinating Aida, entertainer Christopher Biggins and Brideshead Revisited actor Nickolas Grace will also appear.

Tickets cost £25-£150 and are available on 020-7589 8212.