Dame Shirley Bassey is fiercely proud of her Welsh roots and adores the children in her life, so when she heard about an appeal to build a children’s hospital for Wales, she auctioned off 50 of her gowns to support the cause.
Twenty years later, Dame Shirley is a proud patron of Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity, which opened the doors to its state-of-the-art facility in Cardiff in 2015 and has named its main thoroughfare Dame Shirley Bassey Way in her honour. The hospital has cared for 73,000 children from across Wales and houses the country’s only specialist oncology department and critical care unit, as well as the only facility where neonatal babies can receive surgery.
“It is my role as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother that I treasure above all else,” Dame Shirley tells HELLO! “This is why the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity is a cause so close to my heart, and one that I feel immensely proud to have been able to support over the past 20 years.”
Dame Shirley has seen first-hand how the hospital helps families and makes visits less daunting for sick children like four-year-old Oliva, who has undergone gruelling treatment for an aggressive form of cancer.
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“Our charity funded the radiology suite, but it is often the over-and-above things that mean the most and help children and their families cope in difficult times,” she says. “Olivia doesn’t see the hospital as a negative place but a place to come and get her nails painted, play with the therapy dogs and meet up with her favourite characters. Isn’t that wonderful?
“The seemingly little things are just as important as big things like equipment. Through our Sparkle Fund, the charity can add a little sprinkling of joy into the lives of children in hospital by providing treats and activities to lift spirits.”
Now based in Monaco, Dame Shirley never misses a chance to come home to her native Tiger Bay.
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“I travel to Wales as often as I can,” she says. “I am so passionate about this country; it’s where I was born and raised and where I started my career. There is always such a warm welcome for me – I may no longer live there but I will always be the Girl from Tiger Bay at heart.”
Click here to donate to Noah’s Ark Charity on Big Give