Hollywood superstar Eva Longoria brought a touch of movie glamour to Edinburgh last night in a charity gala dinner which netted over £100,000 for global good causes.
The former Desperate Housewives star jetted into the capital for the Global Gift Gala – a charity foundation that has hosted fundraising events across the world including Paris, Cannes, Dubai and Mexico.
It was the first time the event has visited Scotland, thanks to the efforts of charity PR supremo Nick Ede, who comes originally from Edinburgh but whose East of Eden agency is based in London.
Ede secured a host of top names to attend the event at the iconic Waldorf Astoria – The Caley – on Princes Street, which specially adapted its Peacock Alley function suite with a series of lifelike trees. Entertainment was laid on by a traditional piper, as well as a school choir from Canal View Primary School in Wester Hailes, and Britain’s Got Talent stars Calum Scott and Francine Lewis.
As well as Longoria, rising Scottish stars such as the former rugby player turned actor Craig McGinlay, who features in the new King Arthur blockbuster and Outlander and The Angels’ Share star Scott Kyle appeared, as did familiar TV faces Eastenders actress Patsy Palmer and Made in Chelsea star Ashley James. Scots movie icon James McAvoy was billed to attend although pulled out at the last moment owing to filming commitments, the organisers said.
But that didn’t detract from the success of the night, where the combined income from table sales, priced at £2,500, and an auction raised a total of over £100,000 for the various charities, including Longoria’s own foundation which works to improve the lives of women and children and Scottish children’s mental health charity Place2Be.
Ede, who has worked for seven years with Maria Bravo, the founder of the Global Gift Foundation, which provides medical treatments and therapy for children affected by rare disease, said: “Last night was a fabulous event and it went really well – the hotel looked magnificent and the staff were attentive to everyone’s needs and delivered a world-class event. We raised over £100k for good causes, which is amazing for the first time.”
Among the clever decorative touches which added to the atmosphere was a ‘selfie wall’ adorned with flowers, where guests posed for memento snaps; the backdrop ended up being featured on the front page of the Scotsman with a beaming Longoria pictured alongside piper James Nicholl.
A self-confessed “history buff”, Longoria, who was on her first visit to Scotland, revealed she had a view of Edinburgh Castle from her window and was looking forward to checking out the city; she was promised a tour of the sights by Ede, who honoured the pledge the next day and took her to the castle and Holyrood Palace.
She said: “I need the full Scottish experience; Edinburgh’s a beautiful city and hopefully I will be able to sightsee tomorrow. And I would love to film here, yes. People made fun of me because I wanted to film in Wales, but I love to film anywhere outside the United States just for the experience. I’ve never shot in Scotland so I think it would be a real treat. I feel you don’t get to know a country or a place until you’ve worked there.”
Longoria appeared to be game for trying the Scottish delicacies of haggis – which was on the menu for the dinner – and a dram of whisky, although she admitted she had no idea what the former was made of.
Ede then joked: “We’ll tell you afterwards!”
As to whether the event – which also featured Scottish business moguls and philanthropists Lady Susan Haughey and Sir William Haughey – will return to Edinburgh, Longoria said: “Hopefully yes, if it’s a great success, I believe we can continue having it here.”
When asked why The Caley was the best venue for the event, Ede said the function space was a unique offering for the city, adding: “There are so many great hotels and it would be great to have an event in every single one. I think the Waldorf is so iconic; I used to come here to The Caley for roasts and actually when I saw the room, the Peacock room, it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s beautiful and it’s very different to the normal function room where we’ve done the event in before. I also felt that the trees made it so unique.”