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Preston oncologist joins Michael Ball in Royal Variety Performance

A consultant oncologist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has taken part in one of the country’s most-loved TV shows.

Dr Alison Birtle, who works at Royal Preston Hospital, took to the stage with Michael Ball as part of the NHS Voices of Care Choir, to sing a moving rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone at Blackpool’s Opera House, where the Royal Variety Performance is being filmed this year.

Dr Birtle said:

“It was an honour to represent both the NHS and our hospitals at such a prestigious event after this year, which has been challenging to say the least. I was also lucky enough to perform on the number one single with Captain Sir Tom Moore and Michael Ball back in May and on the video. When there was a request for the Choir to perform on the Royal Variety Show, I couldn’t pass such an exciting opportunity up! It was such a wonderful day, and I even chatted to some very well-known celebrities about the tremendous work of the NHS throughout the pandemic. Please do tune in on Tuesday 8th December and watch your local NHS perform a beautiful rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Dr Birtle was joined by colleagues from other trusts, including  Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

The choir was put together by music producer James Hawkins, who earlier this year released the chart-topping single with Michael Ball and Colonel Tom Moore, in light of the 100 year-old raising nearly £33m for NHS Charities Together.

James 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.”

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 also 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 show will air on ITV on Tuesday 8th December at 8pm.

Get in touch

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital

Preston Road



01257 261222

Royal Preston Hospital

Sharoe Green Lane




01772 716565

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