Night of entertainment raises thousands for heart charity

A night of entertainment at one of the region’s biggest theatres has helped Wessex Heartbeat raise £12,000.

The charity held its annual variety show at Mayflower Theatre on February 10 and, thanks to the generosity of audience-goers, thousands has been raised for the charity.

Among the performers on the night were Kerry Ellis, star of numerous West End musicals including Wicked, and Britain’s Got Talent star, ventriloquist Gareth Oliver. Trapeze artist Diego Circus wowed the audience with his impressive balancing skills and countless local dance groups, school children and choirs also took to the stage.

Perhaps the biggest applause of the night went to local man Bobby Ward-Jones, who gave an emotional piano performance just a few months after having major heart surgery. Bobby, from Southampton, collapsed one day while training with the territorial army. His life was saved by a quick-thinking colleague, who performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Bobby encountered Wessex Heartbeat while having heart surgery and subsequent recovery at Southampton General Hospital. He said:

‘It was a real honour to play at Mayflower Theatre and I’m hoping to do even more for the charity in the coming months.’

The money raised at the variety show will go towards supporting people like Bobby and their families, as well as Wessex Heartbeat’s preventative work in the community.

John Munro, CEO of the charity, said:

‘We are absolutely thrilled with how much was raised at the show. Having Bobby perform on stage, just a few months after his heart surgery, really brought home the impact heart disease can have and how knowing CPR could save someone’s life. We’ll be putting the money raised to good use, working hard to combat heart disease in the community.’

The Wessex Heartbeat Variety Show was supported by local businesses, including Warner Leisure Hotels, TJ Waste, Snows Motor Group, Mermaid Gin, A&A Business Solutions, Goadsby, Thomas Sanderson and Lawton Communications Group.