Baggies’ Brendon Batson and star of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, Janice Connolly, were just some of the household names who helped raise £20k at a charity’s glittering gala dinner

Famous faces from across Birmingham and the Black Country came together this month (MARCH) to celebrate Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice’s 40th anniversary.

Footballing legend Brendon Batson, media broadcaster Llewela Bailey, Antique Roadshow’s Will Farmer, and comedic character Barbara Nice, who is played by Janice Connolly, all showed their support for the much-loved charity.

The celebrities were joined by local businesses, community groups and big-hearted supporters, who together are on track to raise a remarkable £20,000.

Over 230 guests attended the glittering black tie event, which was held at Edgbaston Stadium on Friday 1 March. They enjoyed a drinks reception, three-course dinner, musical entertainment from Midlands’ band The Bright Eyes, and a lively comedic set from the self-proclaimed ‘most popular housewife in Kings Heath’, Barbara Nice.

The event kick started a year of 40th anniversary celebrations, which will all honour the care and support the Hospice has provided across Birmingham and Sandwell for the last four decades.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice was founded in 1979 by Monica Pearce and was the first independent hospice in the Midlands. A former NHS matron, Monica’s vision was to ‘enable anyone with a life-limiting illness to live their life to the full’ – a mission that the Hospice’s staff and volunteers still stand by today. First known as ‘St. Mary’s Hospice’, the charity cared for its first patient on Monday 5 March 1979.

Former West Brom defender, Brendon Batson, was made patron of the Hospice in 2017, after doctors and nurses cared for his wife Cecily in the comfort of their family home. He said: “The care Cecily and my family received was just incredible. It was a massive comfort that she was cared for at home and I’ll never forget the kindness and dignity the nurses and doctors showed us.

Tina Swani, chief executive at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, added: “We had a fantastic night welcoming generous supporters to our gala dinner and I would like to thank everyone for coming along and celebrating this landmark anniversary with us.

“Whilst the evening celebrated our proud history and the legacy of our founder Monica Pearce, it was also a chance to show the community how crucial hospice care still is in our city today and how demand for it will continue to grow in the future.”

To find out more about the Hospice’s proud history and its upcoming 40th celebrations, please visit: https://www.birminghamhospice.org.uk/our-40th-anniversary

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