When it comes to what the Great British public have learnt about themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, Barry Hearn cites two things. ‘We’ve found resilience in ourselves that we thought we never had,’ said the Saint Francis Hospice Patron and legendary sports promoter.
‘We’ve also discovered that we took many things for granted, and didn’t appreciate them until they were taken away. Complacency is a sin that creeps into a lot of people’s lives.’
Barry admitted that Saint Francis Hospice could easily be a place that wouldn’t be fully appreciated unless it was confined to the history books. ‘Let’s not take that chance,’he appealed. ‘Look after you and your family first, then your community and a big part of that alliance is our Hospice.
Our care touches the lives of so many people, but it doesn’t exist by luck. We’re not the beneficiary of a massive amount of government money.’
That amount of state funding is only 23% of Saint Francis Hospice’s total running costs. After that, the Hospice needs to find £23,000 a day to survive a challenge that’s become even more significant since social distancing gripped the nation.
Despite the monotony of the lockdown and a recent heart attack, Barry is still beaming with optimism a trait he developed while growing up in London’s East End washing cars and picking vegetables as he tried to make a name for himself in this world.
‘This wasn’t a big heart attack,’ he said humbly. ‘It was just an operation with a few stents thrown in. My other heart attack, in 2002, that was proper. This one? It wasn’t life or death. It’s insignificant when you think what’s happening around the globe. I’m ok.’ Barry admitted that he even felt a little ashamed to be as he thought an extra burden on NHS.
‘I felt embarrassed to be there, yet the NHS was brilliant as always.’ He revealed that the thought of Saint Francis Hospice not being there to ease the strain on doctors and nurses, is what’s motivating him to appeal to supporters. ‘Please don’t forget our Hospice’s nurses,’he said. ‘The less they are funded, the more pressure it puts on NHS.’
From a big Anthony Joshua fight in London to darts, gymnastics, fishing and World Championship snooker Barry has had to cancel over 600 events. ‘Boring, isn’t it?’ he joked. ‘But it’s no big deal. Let’s keep it in perspective.’
In a rallying call, Barry pleaded for everyone not to give up.’That’s not an option,’ he said. ‘The spirit of this country has always been to battle through. There’s character among us that got us through these challenges before, and we’ll do it again.
‘Hopefully, when life goes back to normal, we’ll be more appreciative of what life has given us.’ You can do your bit in ensuring Saint Francis Hospice will always be there for as little as £3 month. You can find out more about how you can help here.