On Thursday 26 October, we were joined by supporters and celebrities to mark Paul Gambaccini’s career milestone of 50 years in broadcasting with An Evening of Radio Magic, with all funds raised helping our vital work to end new HIV cases in the UK by 2030.
Paul is the only broadcaster who has presented regular programmes on BBC Radio’s 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as at some point a regular on BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4. This year marks his 50th anniversary in British broadcasting, since his arrival at Radio 1 in 1973 from American college radio and Rolling Stone magazine.
Paul has special relationship with Terrence Higgins Trust which spans over 30 years. He has been a staunch supporter of the charity since the dark days of the HIV epidemic – a virus that would eventually take the lives of one third of Paul’s gay friends. When his best friend from college was told the man he had loved in the 1970s had died of AIDS-related illnesses, Paul knew something terrible was coming.
He became one of the first patrons of Terrence Higgins Trust when fear and misinformation on HIV was at its worst – no-one wanted to give money to HIV charities at this time.
In 1994, Paul was appalled by the news that Terrence Higgins Trust’s funding was to be cut by the Government by £300,000. To make up the reduction, he invited 300 close friends and supporters to each donate £1,000. Those who have contributed include Stephen Fry, U2, Helena Bonham Carter, and Joan Armatrading.This became known as the 300 Club – an association which continues today as The Friends Network.
An Evening Radio Magic was hosted at Quaglino’s in London – the very same venue where the 300 Club started. Our wonderful hosts for the evening were Kajagoogoo’s Limahl and presenter and model Linda E, who was featured in our National HIV Testing Week and It Starts With Me campaigns.
Guests were treated to a variety of cabaret acts including performances from Alexa Vox, winner of Pride In London’s Got Talent, Sarah-Louise Young as Without Kate Bush, The Mirrorball Act, and finally, a closing set from drag artist Mahatma Khandi with Nicole Pellegrino and Bindiya.
Guests also heard a powerful speech from our Chief Executive, Richard Angell, on the remarkable achievements our charity has made since Paul raised the crucial funds from the 300 club to enable us to keep being there for people living with HIV, as well as our historic goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030.
Our Positive Voices Coordinator Sue Hunter also shared her experience living wth HIV with the audience, highlighting how being a Positive Voices speaker has changed her life. “Five months ago, I was gifted the most precious gift when my daughter gave birth to my first grandson and I know that I will do what I can to make sure he grows up in a less stigmatising world,” said Sue.
During a Q&A between Paul Gambaccini and Tom Robinson, Paul was asked what he would say to people about how you can make a difference as an individual during difficult times.
Paul said: “What there was in my time first was The Beatles. God bless them and the pop revolution that followed. And then what there was in my time was HIV and AIDS. It was not what any of us wanted but it was what we got on our plate. And to every younger person here today I would say instead of despairing about the ugliness outside – what is it in your time that you can do to make the lives of at least several people better? And with any luck, it’ll be more than several – and I wish you well in that job.”
Watch this space for more special events announcements soon!