By Tim Saunders on
What was quite possibly the party of the year was held in London on November 8, in celebration of the adventure of a lifetime.
The Long Way Down charity dinner and auction was held to mark the successful completion of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's 15,000 mile motorcycle ride from the most northern point in Scotland to the most southern point of South Africa, an adventure that is now the subject of a television series being shown on BBC2 on Sunday nights, and an action-packed book. A host of celebrities, including Elle Macpherson, James Nesbitt, and Scottish singer Sharleen Spiteri dusted off their best clothes for the event, which included performances by The Magic Numbers and Beth Orton.
The evening raised over $621,000 for the Long Way Down team’s charity partners, including Riders For Health, an organization that has worked for over 15 years to develop delivery systems for healthcare in Africa, as well as CHAS, a Scottish charity committed to providing children’s hospice services, and UNICEF.
“I’ve been involved with CHAS for many years,” said McGregor during the auction event. “It’s the most extraordinary place. 20% of the money raised tonight will go to CHAS, to help the children. They will be very grateful, as will I.”
The top selling item of the evening was a replica of the BMW R1200 motorcycle the pair rode during their journey. The bike, which was painted half in McGregor’s color scheme and half in Boorman’s, sold for an unbelievable $103,000. This was followed by one of the Nissan Nivara support vehicles that completed the trip, which was snapped up for $87,000. Other items included an African holiday for four people which reached $27,000, and a one-of-a-kind Gary Hutchins Edbanger guitar, sold for $18,000. In fact, the guitar proved to be so popular that the company that produced it agreed to make two more, both of which reached the same price.
Several celebrities also donated their own items to the auction, including Jay Kay from British pop group Jamiroquai, whose mountain bike fetched $12,000, slightly more than his personal hovercraft, which reached $10,000. Actor Simon Pegg sold the Nike shoes he wore in his latest movie, “Run Fat Boy Run”, for $3000.
The Long Way Down team is committed to raising as much money as possible for children affected by HIV, poverty, and conflict in Africa, and visited several sites in Libya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Rwanda where UNICEF works during the adventure. Both McGregor and Boorman hope that the auction will go a long way in achieving that goal.
“We have started a partnership with UNICEF that will continue for a long long time,” said McGregor, who paid $20,000 for six fashion dresses for his wife during the auction. “The people that we met who work for UNICEF, and the children they help, really touched us to our core. I have often thought that where I would say ‘I don’t know what we can do’, UNICEF says ’Here’s what we can do’.”
More information on the epic journey can be found at www.longwaydown.com.
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