A star-studded Christmas concert will raise vital charity funds. BARBARA HODGSON talks to Tim Healy about his Geordie-themed Nativity sketch
TIM Healy is all set to play the role of Father Christmas over the next few days – in spirit anyway.
When the actor returns to the region this weekend he’ll be spreading goodwill with the Sunday for Sammy grant awards then next week it’s all about raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
At next Thursday’s Christmas at the Cathedral concert in Newcastle, he’ll be pulling a comedy sketch out of the bag as part of a night guaranteed to be packed with festive cheer.
“It’ll be a cracking night,” says Tim who’ll be sharing the line-up at the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas with readings by fellow North East actors David Leon, from Vera, and Emmerdale’s Charlie Hardwick and performers including Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowell and Lindisfarne’s Billy Mitchell.
Local playwright Ed Waugh has created Geordie Nativity specially for the event.
“I’ll be getting my script when I come up on Sunday,” says Benwell- born Tim who now lives in Cheshire. “It’s a very funny Christmas piece.
“It’s going to be great – a carol service with a difference and it’s for a wonderful charity.”
Will he sing? “If they want me to!”
So, get buying tickets now.
The cathedral promises a beautiful setting for the concert which is sponsored by Newcastle law firm Clarke Mairs and will also feature tenor Ian Storey and 14-year-old Shauna Gallon from Whitley Bay, who won the Teenage Kicks music competition last year and sings the NSPCC Christmas single.
The Teenage Cancer Trust, whose ambassador is Joe McElderry, is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the lives of 13 to 24- year-olds with cancer and it’s one with which the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Benidorm star has had a long association.
And, reveals Tim, the charity has another cheque coming as he and ex-wife Denise Welch, with whom he remains on good terms, have just hosted their annual fundraising ball together.
“Denise and I have a large ball every year down here,” he says. “This was huge, with 750 people.
“Half the money raised will go to the Gem Appeal (in aid of sufferers of a genetic disorders) as a friend of Denise’s had two boys who died of Hunter’s Syndrome, and the other half will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust. It’ll be a substantial amount.”
There are plenty rich people in Cheshire, says the actor, but he’s only too aware of those who are struggling elsewhere.
The newly-announced cuts to the arts in the region are a further blow.
“It’s such a shame. Everywhere has financial problems, but I think to cut back on the arts is madness,” he says.
“We need them.”