Each week I have been writing about special events and people who have played such a big part in my working life here at Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity. This week I want to celebrate our Carol Concerts – maybe a strange recollection as we emerge into Spring, but they have been the most extraordinary series of event – growing and developing and bringing our Charity family together each year.

Over the years, we have had amazing speakers. Baroness Betty Boothroyd reading the first lines of St John’s Gospel from the pulpit – that voice which is so full of warmth just made us all stop in our busy lives. Baroness Boothroyd has continued to be a very special friend to the Charity and to me. She is a real inspiration and I have stayed in regular touch with her throughout the pandemic and we have been a strength for each other. Thank you to the Charity for bringing me close to someone so extraordinary.

Another year we had the gorgeous Jane Asher reading – in fact she has read for us twice – each time bringing the house down with gently irreverent readings about making a Christmas Cake and the brilliant poem when a loved one was sent, quite literally, all the gifts on the list in the Twelve Days of Christmas. Like Baroness Boothroyd, Jane has continued to be a close and supportive friend. She has judged bake offs, given auction prizes, supported our appeals and more.

Broadcaster Nick Robinson wrote movingly about his treatment at Royal Brompton in the newspapers and also came to read for us at Carol Concert number three. That voice is so familiar to millions and it sounded very at home in St Luke’s Church. He spoke about how his condition made him lose his voice – not a small problem for a broadcaster – but thanks to the care and treatment at Royal Brompton, we can hear him each day now and I often think of the time he came to support us.

Jamie Campbell-Bower of Game of Thrones and Harry Potter fame brought a much younger audience to us (and my daughter was particularly star struck). And talking of Harry Potter, we were delighted to have Zoe Wannamaker who took off her shoes to walk up to the pulpit for her reading. Ronnie Wood was a great favourite when he brought his family. His young twins danced in their sparkly Christmas dresses up the aisle and he read the Christmas Tree poem for our audience. Ronnie has produced videos for us during the pandemic to give messages of support to our NHS staff.

One year our very special guest was our wonderful Patron, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. Her Royal Highness has hosted events for us and talked to many of our donors over the years. It was a real treat to have her with us for the Carol Concert at St Luke’s and many of our guests met her afterwards when she joined us for mulled wine and mince pies – who could ask for a better Patron – we are so lucky.

Felicity Kendall was also a favourite and a wonderful reader as you can imagine. But my main memory from that night was after the concert in the gathering, Felicity had hundreds of people who wanted to speak to her and she had a word with every one of them – it was a very happy occasion.

And it hasn’t only been about Royal Brompton and St Luke’s. We have also been part of the Carol Concert at St Mary’s at Harefield, which has always had a real community feel with school children and the Church choir providing most of the music. We welcomed patients, Harefield staff and the clergy team. Harefield Junior School singing about snowmen, and jingle bells will always make me smile.

At Harefield, and at St Luke’s, we have had our very own Singing For Breathing Choir. Their joy for life, despite their respiratory conditions, is infectious. It’s impossible not to join in.

Thank you to the teams at St Mary’s Harefield and at St Luke’s Chelsea. You have welcomed us, our guests and audiences and we have loved every minute. You have given us many beautiful evenings and thousands of memories. Thank you.