Trust staff join the stars in this year’s Royal Variety Performance

Members of staff from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have taken part in one of the nation’s most iconic TV shows.

Performing as the NHS Voices of Care Choir, a cross section of 15 staff from the Trust joined Micheal Ball to sing a moving rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone in the top of the bill slot at the Royal Variety Performance filmed at Blackpool’s Opera House.

The choir was put together by James Hawkins, Music Producer and founder of the NHS Voices of Care Choir, who earlier this year released the chart topping single with Micheal Ball and Colonel Sir Tom Moore in light of the 100 year-old raising millions of pounds for NHS Charities Together.

He said: “The choir are an inspiration and their performance will leave viewers feeling, like me, uplifted and immensely proud of all NHS workers countrywide.

“The choir’s performance is a fine display of teamwork, community purpose, heart and hope at its best.

“This won’t be the last you hear from this very special group of people.”

All of the Trust’s participants were thrilled to be given the opportunity to appear in such a prestigious show, especially following this difficult year dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s show, hosted by comedian Jason Manford, played to a virtual audience for the first time. The show was broadcast from Blackpool for only the third time in its 108 year history.

Chairman of the Royal Variety Charity, Giles Cooper, said: “On behalf of the Royal Variety Charity I would like to express my sincere thanks to the ‘Voices of Care Choir’ for taking part in the Royal Variety Performance.

“2020 has shown that our NHS is the cornerstone of our country, and we are indebted to everyone who works for it in any capacity.

“It was thrilling to see and hear the ‘Voices of Care Choir’ take centre stage at the Opera House in Blackpool and become part of Royal Variety Performance history.”

This year’s performers include Gary Barlow OBE, Stephen Mulhern and Melanie C. Prince Charles recorded a special message as under current restrictions, he was unable to be there in person.

The Royal Variety Charity behind the Performance, assists those who’ve worked professionally in the entertainment industry and are in need of help, which is particularly poignant in light of recent Covid-19 restrictions.

All artists and crew followed strict social distancing and other safety measures throughout their time at the Winter Gardens.

The choir also included members of staff from Royal Preston Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

The show will air on ITV on Tuesday, December 8 at 8pm.

Here’s what our NHS Voices of Care Choir thought about their experience:

 Kirsty Murray, 44 from Staining, a Neonatal Nursery Nurse, said: “It was an honour and a pleasure to perform on behalf of all the dedicated and hard-working NHS staff.”

Jenny Brand, 30, a Midwife from Fleetwood, said: “The whole experience was amazing! And performing with such an incredible group of people made it even better. I’m feeling very proud to be part of the NHS.”

Paula Walker, 43, from Cleveleys, Employee Retention Lead, said: “It was a total honour to be selected and perform with such a beautiful bunch of people. In such hard times, it was the tonic that we all needed. Team work makes the dream work.”

Hollie Murray, 23, from Staining, an Emergency Department Staff Nurse, added: “This was a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget and I was honoured to be able to represent the NHS and perform alongside an incredible group of people.”

Sal Smith, 50, from Bispham, a Digital department Personal Assistant, said: “It was a joy to share the stage with such a fantastic group of selfless and truly dedicated people. I’m so very proud to be part of the NHS family.”

Alma Stewart, 50, from Freckleton, a Senior Communications Officer at the Trust, said: “As a part-time entertainer, I have been dreaming of this since I was five years old, so to be able to be part of such an iconic show, especially with such fantastic colleagues, is literally a dream come true. It was one of the best experiences of my life and everyone we met was so kind – amazing.”

Vicky Greaves, 28, from Preston is a Paediatric Staff Nurse. She said: “It was an honour and a privilege to sing with this amazing group of people and represent the NHS during all that we’ve been and still are going through. An amazing experience.”

Luke Sumner, 39, from Blackpool, a Senior Charge Nurse in Cardiac Intensive Care, said: “Being able to take part in one of the world’s most prestigious performances and representing the NHS was an absolute honour. Sending out a message of hope in such dark times in an unforgettable way, is a memory I will hold forever.”

Emma Freeman, 36, from Thornton-Cleveleys, a Pharmacy Technician, commented: “This has been an absolutely amazing experience and an opportunity to give thanks to the NHS for everyone’s hard work in an extremely difficult year.’’

Mike Rolland, 46 from Poulton-Le-Fylde, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, said: “I was honoured to represent the NHS in this year of all years. It was a wonderful experience to share a stage with in this most prestigious of occasions, with such great and talented colleagues,  NHS family indeed.”

Tina Griffin, 50, from Blackpool, a HCA in Preoperative Assessment, commented: “Overall this was an amazing experience shared with the most loveliest people. It is something I will never ever forget. I am so proud to be part of this and thanks to Jim for allowing us to be part of it.”

Xander Baybayan, 33, from Blackpool, a Staff Nurse on a Care of the Elderly ward, said: “To be able to sing with these amazing people is such an honour, and to think I’m very new in the UK and having this stint is so surreal. I came from the  Philippines in February 2020, I recently qualified in November and so I checked two things from my bucket list this month: to be a registered nurse in UK and to be seen on TV! Thanks Jim and the NHS Voices of Care Choir for this once in a lifetime experience.”

Micheal Smytheman, 39 Emergency Department Assistant from Blackpool, said: “It was an amazing experience and I feel lucky to be part of it, although I felt very nervous. I loved how supportive everybody was of each other. Jim’s an amazing guy to work with.”

Wendy Hall, 58 from Warton, a Sister on the Neonatal Unit, said: “It was a once in a lifetime experience to sing with Michael Ball and Sir Tom and to sing with Jim with his wealth of knowledge and experience. So proud to sing with a wonderful group of people and represent the NHS – Truly wonderful. Thank you all.”

Tina Daniels, 61 from Wesham, is the Trust’s Equality and Diversity Lead. She commented: “I feel incredibly honoured to be allowed to perform at such a prestigious event with colleagues who gave their all and continue to do so during the pandemic and other NHS pressures. I am so proud to be part of the NHS family.”

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