This week, Eva Longoria invited me to co-chair the Global Gift Gala that she organizes every year in Paris, Cannes, London, Marbella, LA and Mexico. It is an amazingly generous event where she honours a charity. Since its initiation in 2011, the Global Gift Gala has benefitted more than 10 foundations and raised over $12m. This year they are honoring The Great Initiative the charity I established with Mariella Frostrup fighting for gender equality in the world.
The gala presents the work of the charity it is supporting and a part of the proceeds are generously given to it. The bala is the epitome of glamour and entertainment. Eva throws all her enthusiastic energy into it. She presents the people, the causes, she helps the auction - and boy is she good at it. She puts her name and her fame to the service of the gala. She usually invites other big names to attract donors. This week she invited David Beckham to the Paris gala...!
It is a fantastic philanthropic venture. Sharing time with Eva I discovered that she is a truly passionate philanthropist and is dedicated to many causes. First, she finances schools for disabled children in the US. Second, she became a public figure for the Latin-American community, and was an official supporter of the Obama campaign. Now she is passionate about dedicating her foundation to gender equality, which is why we are partnering so well.
The gala was a huge success at the Hotel Georges V. It felt like a preview of the Cannes Film Festival. The flower arrangements were designed by the famous florist Jeff Leatham, the dinner by the Georges V hotel's two-starred executive chef Eric Briffard. There was a red carpet, lots of paparazzi, a very chic crowd. Lots of French TV stars were there as well as actors and singers. The auction offered Roland Garros French Open box seats from Serena Williams, some beautiful scooters, trips to a castle in France, a trip to the gala in Marbella. The entertainment included the successful candidates of the French version of The Voice, which is huge. The famous presenter of Star Academy, Nikos Aliagas, was the master of ceremonies.
But with all the glamour there was still a disaster! At the last minute David Beckham couldn't come... That night, Paris Saint-Germain won the French football league after 19 years, and the team were celebrating. There was a certain amount of regret that the team had won and stole our football legend for the evening! Little did we realize that David would also be announcing his retirement from football this week, so unknown to all of us, it was a major celebration for him - but I was still very disappointed not to meet the world's most famous footballer - who also happens to be rather gorgeous! David however did take the time to send us a lovely film. He looked beautiful and relaxed and was really happy to receive the Global Gift Philanthropist Award from the Global Gift Gala Foundation.
The crowd at the event was really happy that he sent the film, but at the very same time that we were watching the video of David, Paris was under siege with a series of unexpected riots! Yes, hard to believe as it was, but a few minutes away from all the glamour of the gala, a group of extremist hooligans seized the opportunity of the city's celebrations to fill the streets around the Trocadéro with violence - an area which is usually very quiet and bourgeois.
They broke shop windows and set cars ablaze - they robbed and attacked other supporters. Many people called for the Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls to be dismissed for allowing such unimaginable and uncontrolled riots to happen in the streets of Paris. It turned out that due to the riots David Beckham couldn't celebrate the glory of his club and his last ever game of professional football.
But with all this happening, bizarrely enough the UK media didn't really talk about this major violent event happening in the streets of one of the closest foreign European capitals to London. Outside of the gala it was a total nightmare, the guests couldn't leave the venue, all the cars were blocked in and the streets were closed as the hooligans went mad around the gorgeous Place du Trocadéro!
An evening of strange contrasts.
Karen Ruimy is co-founder of the GREAT initiative (Gender Rights & Equality Action Trust) www.thegreatinitiative.com. Her new album Come With Me is out on May 28 available for download from iTunes http://bit.ly/145noRw. Karen will be appearing at Mind Body Spirit at Earls Court 24-27 May. www.karenruimy.com