Now Reading
Stars and (Zebra) Stripes at Feather Association’s London Animal Masquerade Ball

Stars and (Zebra) Stripes at Feather Association’s London Animal Masquerade Ball

Stars and (Zebra) Stripes at Feather Association’s London Animal Masquerade Ball

Taylor Swift may have played her second Eras Tour concert at Wembley Stadum on Saturday night, but she wasn’t the only game in town. British stars, from Keeley Hawes (Netflix’s Prince Andrew film Scoop), Yasmin Finney (Doctor Who), legendary broadcasters and newsreaders Moira Stuart and Angela Rippon, and Adrian Lester (Renegade Nell, The Sandman) to Indira Varma (Game of Thrones), Nathaniel Curtis (It’s a Sin), Taj Atwal (Line of Duty, Memory) and Susan Wokoma (Enola Holmes), flocked to London’s National History Museum to an animal masquerade ball organized by charity The Feathers Association, celebrating its 90th anniversary, and partners. And they were joined by such U.S. guests as Esai Morales (Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Ozark).

The Feathers Animal Masquerade Grand Ball fundraiser for “people and planet” featured a white tie dress code and was one of the most expensive fundraising events ever to be held in London, according to organizers. All proceeds from the night will be split between The Feathers Association and its partner charity, The Ecoflix Foundation.

It didn’t rain cats and dogs in the British capital on this sunny Saturday evening, but cats, dogs and other animal masks adorned the faces of various ballgoers, with organizers having requested the use of vegan masks.

“We were keen to host and introduce a very different kind of fundraising event and that meant being incredibly bold and brave,” said Aimée Anderson, vice chair of trustees for The Feathers Association and president of The Feathers Animal Ball. “Inspired by Bridgerton, we decided to go back to our days of old to bring back the old glamor of White Tie High Society Grand Balls while injecting a bit of fun and creativity with the animal masquerade theme.”

Entertainment galore was guaranteed from the moment guests reached the museum entrance, where they were greeted by members of the Birmingham Royal Ballet moving, dancing and prancing around in animal outfits, including a penguin carrying a tray with (empty) cocktail glasses and a monkey.

Walking by the one or the other animal skeleton in the museum, attendees reached a cocktail reception that kicked off the night with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including mocktails and soft drinks, music played by a string quartet and those animalistic ballet dancers, also including a ram, a rat, a flea and a zebra, posing, dancing or moving around on small platforms and interacting with the crowd.

At this stage of the evening, attendees, surrounded by prehistoric fossils, were also heard exchanging stories about their respective animal masks, with one wearer of a wolf mask among those repeatedly getting complimented about their choice by passersby.

Then, toastmaster Jeremy Smith, who entertained ballgoers throughout the night with announcements that he yelled out in a style worthy of royal affairs, informed the buzzing crowd that dinner was ready. It wasn’t served in just any room, but Hintze Hall, the largest public gallery in the museum. A blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling, “as a reminder of humanity’s responsibility to protect our planet,” drew oohs and aahs and many mobile phone snaps.

It also wasn’t just any kind of food, given that organizers had promised a “fully sustainable evening” with a plant-based menu. So it came as no surprise that for those who were peckish, dinner started off with a beetroot carpaccio with soused fennel, vegan feta, pumpkin seed praline and rhubarb ketchup, which was followed by a butternut squash steak. The food extravaganza wrapped up with a serving of a strawberry, meringue and lemon dessert.

Those interested in silent auction items were not monkeying around while eating, using tablets placed on tables to make offers for such lots as a meeting with the Pope for two people, a limited edition signed lithograph of a watercolor painting by King Charles III, an astronaut training session with NASA, a safari in Botswana, a holiday on a private island in the Caribbean, and a Margot Robbie-signed Barbie movie frame with photos from the blockbuster.

After a breathtakingly quick live auction of additional items, including a driving lesson in a Formula 1 car and a hand-signed Taylor Swift “1989” album, it was time for the Birmingham Ballet dancers to perform an extract from David Bintley’s ballet Still Life at the Penguin Café, featuring music composed by Simon Jeffes, the founder of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

The animal dancers, soon facing a standing crowd snapping pics and taking videos, ended their performance by starting a conga line that got the crowd warmed up for the big musical star of the night.

British singer and actress Leona Lewis (Avatar theme song “I See You,” “Bleeding Love,” “Collide”) played a 30-minute concert and ensured there were no sitting ducks left in the venue. In between songs, Lewis told the crowd about her own work saving animals and quipped that this was her first time performing below a whale.

From there, nothing could stop the ballgoers from dancing up a storm, with TV and radio host Marvin Humes, a former member of the British boy band JLS, on DJ duties until late into the night. At some point, Adrian Lester and British TV and radio host Angellica Bell, who is also known for winning the 2017 season of the U.K. version of Celebrity MasterChef, led the crowd in the Electric Side, also known as the Candy Dance, which became a Black Lives Matter protest dance.

Among the partners behind the ball were not-for-profit streaming platform Ecoflix, Tesla, the Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, for which Lewis is doing work, The Hollywood Reporter and Curious Fair, which created the masks for Netflix’s Saltburn. Ecoflix, launched in 2021, has produced original films championing animal protection, rescue and conservation with the likes of King Charles III. Its channel is free to schools and hospitals worldwide.

Funds raised from the ball and auctions will go towards The Feathers Association’s renovation project of its first community center in Marylebone, London which it has occupied since 1975 and is in need of an upgrade. Ecoflix will use funds to produce and distribute more educational videos.

The Feathers Association was founded to provide opportunities for children, young people and communities in the U.K. “to develop in a positive way.” It was set up in 1934 by the then Prince of Wales who later became King Edward VIII but abdicated to marry American socialite and divorcée Wallis Simpson.

“Celebrating our 90th anniversary was always going to be an iconic and important occasion, one that could also raise significant funds for the urgent work and support we provide here in London and now across the U.K. as we continue our strategic growth,” said Feathers CEO David Jones.

The Feathers Animal Masquerade Grand Ball 2024 at London’s Natural History Museum

See Also
Minnie Driver ‘Couldn’t’ Live in Republican State If Trump’s Reelected

Courtesy of The Feathers Association

Susan Wokoma, wearing a colorful Yuan Li hat that earned her many compliments, was busy as a bee during the ball’s cocktail reception. “I am good friends with [philanthropy advisor] Lucy Mcnamara, who used to work at Amnesty International with me, and Deborah Frances-White, who founded The Guilty Feminist podcast,” she told THR. “There are a lot of creatives here. And we are just here to have a good time.”

Wokoma couldn’t quite let the cat out of the bag on future projects though. “There is a view to make a third one, she replied when asked if there could be a third Enola Holmes movie. “There is also something else I’m working on, but I can’t say what it is yet. It’ll be announced in July.”

New Feathers ambassador Keeley Hawes told THR that she took on that role only in the past six months. “I have been looking over the last year or so for a charity to spend some time with and lend a hand if I can,” she explained. “I googled the Feathers, and I couldn’t believe they were still going strong in the 90th year. So, I sent them an email and said I’d love to be involved. And they didn’t reply, because they didn’t think it was really me,” the star quipped. “Then eventually, they come back and said we’d love to have a cup of tea and I went in and we really had a very emotional three hours or so over tea and cake.”

The emotion was due to her own personal experience as a Feathers member, benefiting from the organization’s offerings when she was younger. “We were talking about how much it meant to us growing up. I grew up in central London, and it was a huge part of my life and incredible for my confidence.”

Recalled Hawes: “It was hugely important to me as a child growing up in central London in a big family. I lived in social housing, we didn’t have lots of holidays and that type of thing. When the summer holidays were coming up, there would be little lists and you would add your name to the day trips or the weekend trips to the countryside, and the sheer thrill of being part of that was kind of magical. So it was really lovely to be part of that community of the Feathers.”

Hawes’ husband Matthew MacFadyen (Succession, Operation Mincemeat) couldn’t join her at the ball. “He is in Budapest, shooting Death by Lightning,” she told THR. Netflix unveiled the drama series earlier this year, saying it would tell “the epic and stranger-than-fiction true story of James Garfield, reluctant 20th president of the United States, and his greatest admirer Charles Guiteau — the man who would come to kill him.” Michael Shannon (George & Tammy, Waco) plays Garfield, and Macfadyen Guiteau.

There was no room or need for drama at the animal masquerade ball though. “The Feathers is a hugely positive thing. And it has a huge impact on the communities where I grew up and beyond,” Hawes said. “They feed children in the summer holidays. There are lots of people at this time in this country hit by the cost of living crisis. So it’s really worthwhile.” A moment later, several people came up to Hawes to greet her and share stories and laughter.

And that summarized the Animal Masquerade Grand Ball: it brought together people, raised money for a good cause, and everyone seemed to be having a whale of a time.

Copyright © MetaMedia™ Capital Inc, All right reserved

Scroll To Top