December 10, 2014

Hearts and Minds
photo credit Sara Jane Harvey from Admiring Autism

Manchester, UK – On November 30 soap stars, showbiz shakers and VIPs worked sequins, velvet, gold andglamour last night as they attended a decadent Studio 54 Ball in Manchester to raise money for the Hearts & Minds Challenge charity.

The lovely ladies of Hollyoaks were out in full force as they graced the red carpet in all their finery. Jorgie Porter, Nikki Sanderson, Nicole Barber Lane, Kirsty Leigh Porter, Sophie Austin and Twinnie Lee Moore were among the many that came to enjoy the special evening, while Steph Waring arrived arm in arm with her new man, Riad Erraji.

Rhian Sugden, photo credit Sara Jane Harvey from Admiring Autism

Other celebrities that came along to show their support included X-Factor songstress Carolynne Poole, model Rhian Sugden and So Solid Crew’s Romeo as well as former Big Brother housemate Louise Cliffe.

The opulent event, which took place at the Piccadilly Mercure hotel, began with a delectable drinks reception, followed by a sumptuous three-course dinner with entertainment from Dianna Ross tribute Jacky Webbe and Footloose followed by Britain’s Got Talent’s Showbears.

Jaki Graham then took to the stage at the sparkly soireé to deliver a soulful treat to the crowd, before 90s girl band Cleopatra, who haven’t played together since 2002, wowed the ballroom with a dazzling comeback

Cleo Huggins
Cleo Higgins, photo credit Sara Jane Harvey from Admiring Autism

Lead singer Cleo Higgins, who is an ambassador for the charity, was delighted to take to the stage once again with sisters Yonah and Zainam for such a worthy cause, she expressed:

“As mothers ourselves, we can appreciate how hard it must be for families affected by autism and the everyday difficulties they must face. We’ve seen the positive changes the charity is making in both those parents and children’s lives and so we are proud to come together again to help and support them continue their wonderful work.”

The Hearts & Minds charity work to change and improve the lives of families.

Herats and Minds2
Steph Waring and Riad Erraji, photo credit Sara Jane Harvey from Admiring Autism

The Hearts and Minds Challenge aims to raise the quality of life for individuals and their families affected by autism, by ensuring the provision of the highest standards in education, care and support.

It is hoped that the ball will go to raising the £1 million target to fund a new school in Manchester for autistic children.
Ian McGrath founder of Hearts & Minds was overwhelmed by people’s generosity on the night:

“Tonight has been wonderful success, everybody has had a fantastic evening and we’ve managed to raise a great deal of money, for which we are so grateful for! As a non-state funded charity, events like these are incredibly important in helping us raise the funds we need to continue our work which is essential in helping hundreds of families across the country.”

For more information on the charity please visit:

Below is an interview with Sara Jane Harvey from Admiring Autism who took photos of the night. She has Asperger’s syndrome and a son who is severely autistic. To learn more about Admiring Autism click here.


About the author 

Jo Worgan

Jo Worgan is a published author, writer and blogger. She has a degree in English Literature. She writes about life with her youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum. Jo tweets (@mummyworgan) and is also a freelance columnist for the Lancaster Guardian. ‘My Life with Tom, Living With Autism‘ is her second book and a culmination of her blog posts, and available on Kindle now, along with her first book, Life on the Spectrum. The Preschool years.

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