Rowling charity dinner raises £1m
A bit of Harry Potter magic spelled good news for a children's charity created by author JK Rowling.
A fund-raising dinner hosted by the writer last night at the Harry Potter film set near Watford, Hertfordshire, made £1million for her charity, Lumos.
The charity, named after a light-giving spell in the Harry Potter books, works to end the harmful and systematic institutionalisation of children in orphanages worldwide.
Guests were invited to join Rowling and other celebrities on a tour of the Warner Bros studios, followed by a dinner and charity auction in the Hogwarts Great Hall.
Younger guests were entertained by magicians, entertainers and the animal actors from the Harry Potter films.
Rowling set up Lumos eight years ago to help some of the eight million children worldwide, one million of them in Europe, who are placed in orphanages as a result of poverty, disability or discrimination.
Auction items included a unique personalised ink and pencil drawing by Rowling of the Sorting Hat, an original sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor, and a trip to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Japan in 2014.
The evening also raised much-needed funds for specific projects Lumos runs in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Moldova, which aim to reunite children with their families or help them move into family-based care.
Rowling said: "Since setting up the charity eight years ago to help change the lives of so many children living unnecessarily in appalling institutions across the world, Lumos has already helped governments to take nearly 12,000 children out of these institutions.
"We have prevented the deaths of more than 400 extremely vulnerable children with disabilities, who were not receiving the care they needed in institutions.
"We have helped the EU change its rules on how it uses money to reform health, education and social services - and we are just beginning.
"There is so much more we need to do to bring an end to the institutionalisation of children.
"The incredible support we have received tonight will directly go towards helping achieve all this."
Lumos chief executive Georgette Mulheir, who has worked on projects in Central and eastern Europe, said: "The continuing practice of institutionalising children is a serious human rights issue, one we are committed to ending.
"It is the one form of child abuse we can eradicate in our lifetimes.
"What is needed is the political will and the recognition that all children - regardless of circumstance - should enjoy the full spectrum of human rights and have every opportunity to fulfil their potential.
"We are incredibly grateful to all those who have made this event possible tonight and, through their generosity, we will be able to help more children than ever know the love, security and care of a family."