DIARY: Branson charity bash provides Jim Kelly with a steep learning curve

Richard Branson had a little black-tie bash last Friday to raise money for the NSPCC Full Stop campaign and celebrate his recent 50th birthday, as the exhausted people who are probably still queuing in the rain to get into the grounds of his Oxfordshire home will tell you if you are tactless enough to ask.

All the usual suspects were in attendance: Natalie Imbruglia, the Duke of York, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen (no black tie, but then Laurence likes to live on the edge), the Rainey Kelly partners, Colin Gottlieb, James Major and his wife Emma Noble, and Sir Martin Sorrell, who agreed to shelve his 'four issues about advertising' speech in favour of an impassioned plea for further NSPCC support.

Rumours that the Duke of York's latest girlfriend was also mingling with the crowds were unconfirmed, but then most of the party types admitted that they wouldn't have known her from Adam, anyway - well, one hopes they might be able to spot the basic differences, but you get the point.

The queuing and torrential rain didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the well-heeled crowd who waved their chequebooks with enthusiasm during the auction.

This was the place for the real high-rollers, such as Rainey Kelly's joint chief executive Jim Kelly, who paid pounds 2,200 for a Gibson SG guitar signed by Kelly Jones, the lead singer and guitarist of a music combo called the Stereophonics.

'At the time of bidding, I had no idea who the Stereophonics were,' confessed Kelly, 59, who has the air of a more mature Neil Young fan. 'It was only afterwards that people came to me and told me how much 'cred' they had: two sell-out tours, Brit nominations, Kelly now gigging with Noel Gallagher, etc. Does anyone know a good guitar tutor?'

In shameless account-man tradition, Kelly is now an authority on this rock phenomenon from Wales and, by Christmas, you mark our words, he'll be talking about Kelly as a close personal friend.

Meanwhile, Sorrell bid pounds 1,800 to secure 'Natalie Imbruglia's make- up artist for the day'. 'Goodness knows what she can do for me,' he told Campaign, adding: 'I needed it after speaking at 11.30pm.'





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