Hacks cough up

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 12:00am

The Foreign Correspondents' Club Charity Ball on Saturday night managed to raise a staggering $1.9 million, more than double the amount last year.

The silent auction's highest bid of $70,000 was for a signed David Beckham England home shirt. A copy of Hugh Van Es' famous photograph of the last helicopter leaving Saigon, which was signed by him, the pilot of the helicopter and the CIA agent in the photo went for $56,000.

Sale of raffle tickets brought in $576,540 - one of Australia's richest women, Gina Rinehart (daughter of the late mining magnate Lang Hancock), spent $31,000 on tickets on the night. Her stack of tickets was as high as a brick and took almost half an hour to tear off. Funds will go towards the university education of four Po Leung Kuk orphans. But in another tale of generosity, two other orphans who also met the qualifying criteria received $400,000 from an anonymous donor. Organiser Thomas Crampton, pictured above at the ball, hopes to double the figure at next year's event.