How Coronation Street 'gems' are helping Willow Wood

Corrie stars and fans have rallied round to 'save' a Willow Wood Hospice soap-themed fundraiser.

The Ashton-based hospice, which serves Tameside and Glossop, had been planning a fundraising night to coincide with Corrie’s 60th birthday and the hospice’s own 21st anniversary.  

Karen Houlston, Willow Wood’s chief executive, explained that the charity enjoys many Corrie connections with founding patrons having been Roy Barraclough and Kathy Staff, both actors who appeared on the famous cobbles, and current patrons include Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley Cropper).

Karen said: “We have a lot of Corrie fans amongst our supporters and volunteers so were really looking forward to a pint, a bowl of hotpot and a lot of Corrie anecdotes from our patron Mark Llewellin who has been connected with the show for over two decades and a Coronation Street tour guide and expert.  

“It was such a shame when we had to cancel and of course, it has certainly affected us financially.”

Karen Houlston wearing the famous birdcage earrings

However, Mark stepped up with an offer to make a fan film about the show and its local connections, before Manchester production company Show Motion Media and ex-BBC Radio Manchester host Jane Hodson came on board, all offering their services for free. Then Daisy Nook Garden Centre offered to sponsor it.

The result is a special film made by fans for fans, featuring lots of Corrie tales from the show’s 60 years and a look at local connections.

Mark also managed to persuade many of his friends among the cast, past and present to record some anecdotes.  

Corrie legends Julie Goodyear, Sally Ann Matthews, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Ted Robbins, Amanda Barrie, Jennie McAlpine, Chris Gascoyne, Rula Lenska, William Roache and supporting artiste Adam Blease are amongst those taking part.

Karen said: “Rather than just showing it to our existing supporters we are hoping that Corrie fans around the world will make a donation and download the film to watch at home wherever they are. Every penny will go to the hospice.”

Details of how to download the film, which will be available to watch from December 9 (Coronation Street’s 60th Birthday) are on the charity’s website (

Meanwhile, Coronation Street actress Julie Goodyear MBE has also stepped in to help the hospice.

The Heywood-born actress has donated a large amount of personal jewellery to Willow Wood Hospice to be sold to raise funds.

SPARKLING DONATION: Nicky Byrne (above) head of clinical services at Willow Wood, models one of the lots

Keen watchers and fans of Miss Goodyear will recognise many of the items worn on Coronation Street, including the iconic birdcage earrings which she wore when leaving the Rovers in 1995.

Julie said: “I have always taken a keen interest in Willow Wood Hospice, which is a fantastic local charity, as their founding patron was my dear friend Roy Barraclough, who played my screen husband Alec.  

“When I heard that they had been forced to cancel almost all their fundraising events in this, their 21st year, I wanted to do something to help.”

Karen added: “We are very proud of our links with Roy Barraclough and his family, who continue to support us, and thrilled that Julie has chosen to help us in this way.  

“The hospice relies on volunteers and charitable donations to serve the community of Tameside and Glossop and this year has been tough.”

The jewellery will be sold via an on-line sale in the run-up to Coronation Street’s 60th birthday this December.


Main image:

FILMING BREAK: Mark Llewellin and Jane Hodson.


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