Singer Alexander Stewart

A SINGER, ex-international footballer and 130 school children are among a host of local faces who have come together in a new charity Christmas video to thank NHS staff for saving and improving lives during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The Care this Christmas video has been put together by NorthCare Charity to help raise morale among Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA) staff and patients across Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Salford over the festive period. The charity oversees fundraising across the NCA, which brings together the Salford Royal and Pennine Acute trusts.

The video was published on NorthCare Charity’s social media channels @NCareCharity today (Thursday 10 December 2020) and includes 16 heartfelt messages. They include former Australian, Liverpool and Leeds United footballer and Oldham Athletic AFC manager Harry Kewell, Rochdale AFC footballers Stephen Humphrys, Aaron Morley, Fabio Tavares, Stephen Dooley and Tolaji Bola, Salford City FC captain Ash Eastham, the Bishop of Middleton, the Rt Rev Mark Davies, NCA chief executive Raj Jain and more than 130 children from Godfrey Ermen Memorial Primary School in Eccles.

Manchester singer Alexander Stewart introduces the video ahead of dedicating his version of Wham!’s Last Christmas, which plays throughout the montage. Vocalist and songwriter Alexander, of Salford, released the song on Friday and wanted to show his support after raising £700 for Salford Royal by taking part in a sponsored head shave during lockdown in April.

The video, which aims to celebrate Greater Manchester’s diverse communities, also includes messages of support from Rochdale’s Madina Masjid UK Islamic Mission, Deeplish Community Centre, Bury Community Fire Station, local MPs Debbie Abraham, Barbara Keeley and Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett, Ramsbottom fundraiser John Silvert, who raised £2,500 through an online music event as DJ Flava, and Tracey Finnegan from The Store Room in Salford who supported the charity by providing storage for donations and PPE during the pandemic.

Earlier this month NorthCare Charity teamed up with Salford-based artist Emma Evans to create colourful festive scenes at the entrance to all four of the NCA’s hospitals - Salford Royal, The Royal Oldham Hospital, Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, and Rochdale Infirmary. The charity will also give every patient a special gift on Christmas Day and provide hampers and treats for NHS staff working over the festive period through its Care this Christmas fundraiser. People can donate money via instead of bringing in physical gifts, which is prohibited because of increased infection control measures and visiting restrictions posed by Covid-19.

Stephen Owen, fundraising manager for NorthCare Charity, said: “This year has been tough for everyone across the NHS, but the support we have received from the local community has been amazing. We put together this video to remind staff how valued they are in their communities and show all patients and families that we are thinking of them this festive season as we try and make it as special as possible.”

Alexander Stewart, of Salford, said: “This year, like many people, I raised money to support my local NHS. Now, I, along with others in our communities, wanted to say a massive thank you to all the staff across the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group. I dedicate my song Last Christmas to everyone working this festive season, and to all the patients being cared for by our wonderful NHS heroes. Thank you.”

Harry Kewell, manager of Oldham Athletic AFC, said: “I just want to wish everyone at the Northern Care Alliance a very merry Christmas. I know we’ve had a very tough year and I just want to thank you for everything you have done – you’ve been amazing. Keep it up, and again, merry Christmas.”

The Rt Rev Mark Davies, Bishop of Middleton, said: “2020 was a year we will never forget, but nor will we ever forget your amazing inspirational work. So, to all staff across the Northern Care Alliance, huge, huge thanks and every good wish for a happy and blessed Christmas.”

Nabeel Tariq, from Madina Masjid UK Islamic Mission, Rochdale, said: “We would like to say a massive thank you to our NHS staff – you’ve been wonderful and amazing this year and worked really hard. We hope you stay safe and have a nice winter break.”