Home News Wildlife A Night to Remember: Our 2023 Wildlife Ball

A Night to Remember: Our 2023 Wildlife Ball

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Raising Money as We Raised the Roof

Our Wildlife Ball is one of the biggest highlights in our fundraising calendar, and this year’s event was no exception. On Friday March 3rd, 2023, hundreds of wildlife champions descended upon the prestigious Dorchester Hotel, who have generously hosted this amazing event year on year. We are extremely grateful for the continued support of this landmark London hotel, part of the Dorchester Collection, whose style and sophistication sets standards that aspire generations of guests from around the world.

One of our stunning pieces in this year’s silent auction. Image credit: CPG Media.

We know – you’re desperate to find out how much we raised (we were too!). But first, let’s peek behind the curtain and the bouncer on the door, as we walk you through the evening’s standout moments, spellbinding performances, and the thrilling final few seconds as our silent auction concluded (which was not so silently!). With tickets always in high demand, it’s not possible to whisk you all away on the night. But this way, your wish is granted, and you shall go to the ball!

Our guests arrived at a fabulous champagne reception, where David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) staff and volunteers were on hand to introduce the stunning collection of artworks, jewellery, and exclusive trips and experiences that made up the items in our silent auction. And this year, the fun was captured, quite literally, by the hugely popular Retro Photo Booth courtesy of Showtime Photo Booth.

Fans of TV’s Bargain Hunt got more than they bargained for, as auctioneer and TV celebrity, Charles Hanson, opened the night officially as guests took their seats.

TV auctioneer Charles Hanson welcomes guests to The Dorchester ballroom. Image credit: CPG Media.

In Charles’ own words, “An auction is a place of theatre and entertainment, with suspense, excitement, drama, and intense emotion. The spark of bringing buyers and sellers together ignites the room.” And we couldn’t agree more!

The decadent three-course meal prepared by Chef Mario Perera and his team was designed to reflect a fusion of African and Asian cuisines, representing the locations of key projects supported by DSWF. As a wildlife conservation charity, it is important to us to safeguard all species and reduce our environmental impact as much as possible, so we’re extremely proud to say the evening’s entire menu was vegetarian. Each dish was a work of art and a performance in itself, but really, the show was just starting.

Our fantastic Ambassador, The award-winning Mezzo-Soprano, Laura Wright, welcomed the winner of our ‘Breathing World’ competition to the stage. Described as one of Britain’s most prolific and exciting young composers, Christopher Churcher, conducted a professional octet as they performed his winning piece, all to the backdrop imagery of dynamic marine mammals navigating a turbulent ocean.

DSWF Ambassador and English Mezzo-Soprano Laura Wright introduces the Breathing World performance: Image credit: CPG Media.

Undoubtedly, the most anticipated event of the night was also the highlight of our auction. Emily Lamb, our Art Patron and an Ambassador for DSWF, performed alongside fellow ambassador, Laura Wright, as they presented “Running for Our Lives”. Six months of collaboration culminated in a show-stopping six and half minutes, with a stunning work of art created before our very eyes. The shared passion of both artists, representing wildlife and African motherland energy, came to life in a depiction of savage and noble lionesses that will not go quietly into the night when threatened with extinction. The music, written and composed by Laura and John Haywood specially for this performance, featured the voice of the late David Shepherd, renowned wildlife artist and conservationist – and Emily’s grandfather and founder of DSWF. The impassioned wisdom, reflections, and concern for the threats facing the world’s wildlife in his time, made the piece even more moving, seemingly foreshadowing the eco-anxiety and heightened empathy for these iconic species felt today.

An artist paints flowing images of lionesses, accompanied by music and a singer
Emily Lamb, DSWF Art Patron, performs with Laura Wright in our premiere art event. Imaged credit: CPG Media.

As this amazing performance ended, Charles Hanson returned to hosting duties, kicking off with bids in their thousands for the newly crafted artwork.

Charles Hanson kicks off the bidding for the finished piece! Image credit: CPG Media.

Our guests then heard a heartwarming update from one of our conservation partners, the charismatic and enchanting Britius Munkombwe. Britius has spent his life working with local communities to reduce human wildlife conflict in his native Zambia. It is clear Britius lives and breathes every aspect of his work, and he spoke passionately about his special connection to elephants, something close to DSWF’s heart.

Britius reminds us why your support for our work is so vital. Image credit: CPG Media.

Georgina Lamb, our CEO, took to the stage and addressed our audience of wildlife supporters. Her moving and inspiring words showcased why DSWF are different, by forging long-lasting relationships with key conservation partners working tirelessly to save iconic species in the field. Every conservation partner we support with your help makes a significant impact combatting wildlife crime and bringing communities together through empowerment and education. And we do it all by championing art as a voice and medium that can bring about real change.

A woman in a ballgown delivers a speech from a backlit stage.
Georgina Lamb, DSWF CEO, delivers a powerful closing speech. Image credit: CPG Media.

The Wildlife Ball celebrates wildlife and art, continuing the legacy of DSWF’s founder, the late, great conservationist and artist, David Shepherd CBE. As always, we were incredibly proud to have artwork from multiple generations of the Shepherd family contribute directly to our grand total on the night, which was…

Okay, you’ve waited long enough! This year’s Wildlife Ball has raised over £130,000 profit for wildlife! We are committed to ensuring the impact and reach of every donation is maximised. We can’t wait to bring you the stories of the life-changing and species-saving projects this total will now support. For everyone who has been a part of this year’s Wildlife Ball, whether buying a ticket, bidding in the silent auction, donating, volunteering with us, or working with us as an artist or sponsor, we are incredibly grateful.

Our events are a vital part of our fundraising and we’re looking to roll out an exciting new programme throughout 2023 and 2024. And remember, even if you didn’t make it to the ball, it’s never too late to support us. If you’ve been inspired by the vital work we do, you can donate directly here.

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