Film star Sir Ian McKellen joined a host of his former Coronation Street colleagues and friends to attend the glittering annual Manchester Pride Spring Benefit charity ball this week.
The Lord of the Rings star looked dapper in a pastel-coloured suit and dusty pink hat as he joined Corrie‘s Antony Cotton, Alison King, Daniel Brocklebank, Dolly-Rose Campbell and Julia Goulding at the dazzling red carpet extravaganza at Manchester’s Midland Hotel on Thursday night.
Sir Ian, who filmed a hilarious cameo for Corrie as Mel Hutchwright back in 2005, has remained good friends with the soap’s cast and has been a long-time supporter of Manchester Pride.
Over 300 guests were in for a treat at the fundraiser in the Midland’s grand ballroom, which this year had a Moulin Rouge Parisian theme.
The X Factor‘s youngest-ever winner Louisa Johnson wowed guests with an exclusive acoustic performance of her hits as well as some well-chosen cover versions that got guests in the party mood including Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, and Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself.
Then Girls Aloud star Nicola Roberts took the partying into the night with a DJ set that she kicked off with who else but…..girl power legends The Spice Girls, of course.
The event, hosted by broadcaster James Barr, helped to raise thousands of pounds for Manchester Pride, one of the leading LGBT+ charities in the UK, which campaigns for the advancement of LGBT+ equality, celebrates LGBT+ life and creates opportunities that engage LGBT+ people so that they can thrive.
Prizes at the charity auction hosted by Jonty Hearnden included a behind-the-scenes set visit on Corrie, VIP tickets to see Cher at the Manchester Arena, and a lycra unitard worn by 90s fitness guru Mr Motivator.
Pride chief executive Mark Fletcher said: ”Every year I am honoured to see so many influential members and allies of our LGBT+ world here in Manchester join together to help us celebrate and raise money for the Manchester Pride Fund at our annual Spring Benefit. This year we transformed The Midland Hotel into the Moulin Rouge and had a seriously good party.
“But it’s not just about a party, as our charity video reminded us, we have a long way to go in the fight for equality. We want every single LGBT+ person in Greater Manchester to feel as free to be themselves as our guests did last night. I am proud that the money our guests donated will go a long way towards supporting us in creating the right environments around the ten boroughs to carry on our work to do just this.”
The Spring Benefit serves as a fundraising precursor to Pride’s big weekend of events on the August Bank Holiday weekend. This year the festival has a new location for the main music events at Mayfield headlined by Ariana Grande, while the main festival hub and activities will remain in the Gay Village.