Emmerdale stars filled the red carpet at the Once Upon a Smile Grand Ball, the annual event for the charity, founded by Dales star Danny Miller and actor Daniel Jillings to support bereaved families.
A host of stars from Emmerdale and sister soap Coronation Street, including charity founders Danny Miller (Aaron Dingle) and Daniel Jillings graced the red carpet at the annual Once Upon A Smile Grand Ball, held at The Point, Manchester.
Danny and Daniel were joined on the red carpet at the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground by Xander Roussos, the brother of Saffie Roussos, the youngest of the 22 people killed in the attack on the Manchester Arena at the Ariana Grande concert in May last year.
Emmerdale stars Eden Taylor-Draper (Belle Dingle), Emily Head (Rebecca White), Isobel Steele (Liv Flaherty), Natalie J Robb (Moira Dingle), Sophie Powles (Holly Barton), Sally Dexter (Faith Dingle), Samantha Giles (Bernice Blackstock), Liam Fox (Dan Spencer), Ryan Hawley (Robert Sugden), and former cast member Kelvin Fletcher arrived in their finery to support their pal Danny.
Fans lining the red carpet went wild when Thomas brothers Adam, Ryan and Scott arrived, former Emmerdale actor Adam with his wife Caroline and former Corrie and Neighbours actor Ryan with his girlfriend Lucy Mecklenburgh.
Emmerdale’s Anthony Quinlan and flame-haired Strictly Come Dancing pro dancer Dianne Buswell cuddled up on the red carpet, Dianne looking stunning in a plunging black velvet dress.
Coronation Street ladies Julia Goulding and Nicola Thorp, who play Shona Ramsey and Nicola Rubinstein, arrived with Charlie de Melo who plays solicitor Imran Habeeb, Julia looking stunning in a black lace dress and Nicola elegant in a floor length red gown.
Cold Feet actor Cel Spellman and former The Real Housewives of Cheshire star Leanne Brown and her footballer husband Wes also had flash bulbs popping as guests arrived to the rousing sounds of a choir singing This Is Me from The Greatest Showman soundtrack and Sia’s Cheap Thrills at one the most prestigious charitable events on the Manchester calendar.
Radio One presenter Cel stepped in the shoes hosting the ball in place of Danny’s comedian and compere dad Vince who announced his retirement from entertainment at last year’s glittering event.
“I knew I would have some really really big shoes to fill,” he said in tribute to Vince before welcoming ‘Mr Manchester’ to the stage – and he was presented with an engraved watch to thank him for his seven years compeering the ball.
Opening the night in stomping form in her trademark cap and glasses with a troupe of military-style dancers was X Factor finalist Honey G, decked out in gold, who performed a medley including 2Pac’s California Love and the Kriss Kross rap banger Jump.
The room was moved to tears when Andrew Roussos, the father of eight-year-old Saffie who lost her life in the atrocity at the Ariana Grande concert 11 months ago, gave an incredibly moving speech about the help and support provided to his family and introduced Saffie’s older brother to the stage.
And in his first public speech he thanked the charity for the support provided to them before introducing Saffie’s older brother Xander to the stage to rapturous applause and another standing ovation and said “if anyone in this country deserves to stand on this stage it’s not me it’s him.”
Thanking the charity he said the family from Leyland, Lancashire have now moved down south but they have still gone out of their way to be there for them and have travelled to spend time with Xander.
There was a huge surprise for 16yr-old Amelia Williams, was asked to perform at the annual Once Upon A Smile event as she has been supported by the charity for three years since her father Jerome passed away.
She sang her rendition of Robyn’s Dancing on My Own, with an arrangement made famous by Britain’s Got Talent finalist Calum Scott. In a goosebump-inducing moment Calum surprised the young singer by stepping out on stage behind her as she gave an incredible performance of the moving ballad.
The room went wild as singer-songwriter walked out to join her for a duet of his rendition of the song before singing his latest hit You are the Reason to a beautiful video showcasing the work of the charity.
There was also music from the extremely talented Isobel Steele (Liv Flaherty), dancefloor filler Angie Brown and boyband Union J.
Once Upon a Smile has yet to confirm how much money was raised on the night but we’d expect it to be around £50,000 or more.
To find out more about Once Upon a Smile, visit https://www.onceuponasmile.org.uk