GUESTS at one of the largest – and most glittering – events on the North East’s social calendar dug deep to raise a record amount for charity.

The 15th annual North East Oyster Festival was held at Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield, County Durham last month (September).

And organisers, Ramside Estates, which owns Hardwick Hall, have revealed the event raised a staggering £36,600 for Butterwick Hospice Care.

The Stockton-based charity supports people with progressive life limiting illnesses and their families and fundraising manager, Jo Wallis, said: “We are more grateful than we can say.

“We have been the event’s chosen charity for several years and the generosity of those who attend the festival never ceases to amaze us – thank you to each and every person who helped raise this spectacular sum.”

Headlining this year’s Festival was singing sensation Gabrielle, the voice behind 1990s classics such as Dreams, Give me a Little More Time, Walk on By and Rise.

North East band Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, Irish musicians Emerald Thieves and the JJ Galway Band also took to the stage at the event which was compered by comedian, Steve Walls.

The event, sponsored by Great Annual Savings Group along with many other local and national businesses, included a Champagne reception, three-course fruits de mer menu, oyster stalls and complimentary lager, beer and wine.

And John Adamson, director of Ramside Estates, said: “it was a fantastic night – and definitely one of our best yet.

“A vast amount of hard work goes in to producing an event on the scale on the Oyster Festival but seeing everyone have such a great time and knowing that the money it raises will go straight to help people families in the area, makes it all very worthwhile.”