This week we held our annual charity event to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. This is the 12th year that we have hosted this event and helped raise over £2million. Our small part helps Starlight to make a huge difference to desperately ill children and their families, giving them moments of laughter amidst the pain, the treatments and the fear. Having a wonderful day leaves memories for each family of something special, a moment for the child to treasure and think about even when, despite all efforts, they die.

The Starlight day, started with its own quirky memory for me, when on an unexpected note, one of the pet rabbits escaped across a lawn. Indra, our house help had seen Cottontail the white rabbit loose on the lawn, enjoying some fresh grass and had run out to retrieve the rabbit. I was looking out of the kitchen window (en-route to the Starlight breakfast which begins the charity day) and saw Indra, in full flight across the garden. I had never seen him move at this rate, nor had my sister Lucy, who was pursuing him in concern closely followed by Philip the Gardener, equally concerned.

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The three of them pursued Cottontail under the wendy house, from the kitchen window I could now see the three of them crawling around on all fours in the flower beds and wondering what they were doing,  I then saw the clever Cottontail spot a gap and make a bee line for the vegetable garden, and then the freedom of the sheep field.  Lucy, Philip and Indra threw themselves over the fence, chasing the rabbit around the outside of the walled garden and finally into a bush. With hysterical exhausted giggles,  the rabbit party of three finally achieved capture. It had been a moment of excitement, but then Cottontail was clasped closely and taken straight back to her best friend Daisy, in the pen.

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Lucy made tea for all and the day began again.

These are the strange juxtapositions in a day, but perhaps the richer for it, the kindness to life and what matters to other people, the small moments of hilarity amongst the seriousness is what the Starlight Children’s Foundation try to give to children and families.

Some seven hours or so later, Starlight had had another successful day. Many generous city folk had made a huge difference to give support to the lives of families and children just when they would need it most.

It took several hours for the Highclere team to clear everything up, before closing the Castle shutters.  Later that night, the Downton trucks rolled in once more, for filming the following day.