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Stars hail Duke of Edinburgh's charity work at gala night

Published 09/06/2016

Thursday's "Diamonds Are Forever" fundraising event will mark the 60th anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh's (DofE) Awards

Dame Judi Dench has praised the Duke of Edinburgh's charity work at a James Bond-themed fundraiser.

The Duke was joined by 007 stars, including Sir Roger Moore and Naomie Harris, for a "Diamonds Are Forever" gala to mark the 60th anniversary of The Duke of Edinburgh's (DofE) Awards.

Bond actress Dame Judi said the scheme has "galvanised a lot of young people into doing a lot of good things".

"My own nephew did the Duke of Edinburgh Awards - it gives people a focus, they realise 'there's something I can do' and it's thrilling."

Dame Judi, who paid tribute to Bond with a diamonte 007 motif on her shoulder, said she was "nervous" about meeting the royals.

The Duke, who founded the charity in 1956, attended along with The Earl and Countess of Wessex.

They were joined by past and present cast and crew from the spy film series.

Sir Roger, who played Bond between 1973 and 1985, said he has supported the charity for a number of years and added: "Everybody in the film business both on screen and theatre is called upon to support various charities - every cause is good.

"Over the years I have done a number of things for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards."

When asked who he would like to see as the next Bond, he replied: "Anybody who is athletic - Daniel Craig has made that so. He is still Bond."

The event was held at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire, which featured in Goldfinger and Tomorrow Never Dies.

Actress Joanna Lumley, who starred in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, described the DofE Award as "just sensational" and added: "I have had the great honour of giving out the gold awards.

"I love that it teaches young people ways to be independent.

"As soon as they have done something on their own and achieved it, it builds up confidence and inspires them to do better things."

She added: "He (the Duke) thought it all up himself which is incredible - this huge charity without him just wouldn't exist.

"The fact that he is here, looking amazing, it's just - wow."

She said Sir Roger was "amazing" as Bond and added: "Pierce Brosnan was incredible as well".

"People are always asking me who's going to be the next bond but Barbara Broccoli is holding her cards very close to her chest."

Comedian David Walliams, who hosted the event, said: "I had the pleasure of giving out some (DofE) awards last year which was great - seeing how it's really transformed people's lives.

"It's a very, very important thing and has lasted so well.

"It's incredible because it's actually 60 years old and it's basically saying whoever you are you should be given a chance in life which is really great."

He added: "I'm a bit nervous tonight because it's the Royal Family and you want everything to be right but you just have to relax and enjoy these things."

Walliams said he missed out on doing a DofE Award himself because he was in the Combined Cadet Force but added: "I wish I had done it."

British film composer David Arnold, who scored five of the Bond films, organised the entertainment programme, which featured extracts from the theme tunes played by a military band.

Naomie Harris, who played Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall, said she is hoping to star in the next film.

"Being in the film has had an incredible impact on my career and I'm eternally grateful to be part of such an incredible franchise," she added.

"I love it and really, really enjoyed it. I hope I will be in the next one."

When asked who she thinks the next Bond could be, she replied: "I have no idea. I know nothing, exactly the same as everyone else.

"I love Daniel Craig, and really really hope he's going to come back."

All proceeds from the gala will go towards helping the DofE Award, which works with more than 300,000 young people in the UK each year.

The charity is the world's leading youth achievement award and aims to engage with two million more young people by 2020.

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