Fundraising appeal for Bristol research study into Long Covid supported by National Friendly

November 18, 2021

Bristol-based specialist finance firm National Friendly has teamed up with the city’s Southmead Hospital Charity and The Bristol Hippodrome to launch a fundraising appeal which aims to raise £30,000 to support pioneering research into Long Covid now taking place at the hospital.

Known as the DISCOVER study, it has recruited more than 300 patients hospitalised with Covid-19 since March 2020 – making it the UK cohort that has been studied for the longest time and also the first to be published. 

Southmead Hospital is renowned for its world-leading research through its specialist Research & Innovation Centre.

Each year 7,000 patients take part in more than 500 research studies – some of which have previously been made possible thanks to the donations from community partners such as National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome.

National Friendly PR & strategic partnerships executive Kurtis Reece, pictured, third left, with the cast of the Hippodrome’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, said: “In 2019 we managed to raise over £26,000 for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Southmead Hospital, so we are confident we can do the same for a something that has truly affected everyone – Covid-19.

“We have been helping people to prepare for life’s contingencies for over 150-years, by insuring people’s health and providing them with protection. So, looking after those around us, especially within the Bristol community, our hometown, is the very essence of who we are.

“Our aim is to make a real difference to people’s lives and this partnership with The Bristol Hippodrome to raise funds for Southmead Hospital Charity will help to do exactly that.” 

National Friendly is the lead sponsor for The Bristol Hippodrome’s innovative Matinee Mingles, which are aimed at the over 60s, and the Creative Learning Programme, which will offer Bristol-based schools the opportunity to enhance and develop students through high-quality experiences.

Southmead Hospital Charity will benefit from a concentrated, 12-week fundraising campaign staged by National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome from November 9 to February 12 next year.

For Hippodrome audiences, the fundraising will start with Heathers: The Musical, followed by a number of performances including Riverdance – The New 25th Anniversary Show and the hit West End and Broadway musical Hairspray.

It will continue at the annual pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the first UK tour of the West End blockbuster Dreamgirls.

Other performances will include Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker, Ronan Keating Twenty Twenty and Waitress. At all these shows theatre goers will be able to donate to the research through contactless devices in the theatre.

National Friendly is also running an exclusive online competition with The Bristol Hippodrome with five family tickets up for grabs for the pantomime.

The Bristol Hippodrome theatre director Ben Phillips said: “We have a really exciting roster of shows over the next 12 months and we look forward to working with National Friendly and Southmead Hospital to support this crucial research into Long Covid.

“Our theatre is a place of happiness, so it’s been difficult throughout the pandemic not being able to offer any of the wonderful live entertainment we host here.

“We know that by understanding more about Covid-19, we can take steps to prevent its spread, so we can continue to do what we do best – bring delight and culture to the city we love and those who live here.”

Southmead Hospital Charity community & events manager Adrian Brown added: “Many hospital treatments start with research. From treating infections and cancer to pioneering surgery and complex critical care, modern medicine is what it is today because of research.

“The support of partners like National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome can help the hundreds of expert researchers at Southmead Hospital turn pioneering discoveries into real treatments and in time, hopefully help people across the world suffering from Long Covid.

“The symptoms can be wide ranging, long lasting and, for some, life changing. If we want to control coronavirus, we must develop our knowledge of how the virus spreads, the symptoms it causes and its long-term impact. The research happening here at Southmead will play an important role in that.

“National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome know just how important it is to support the local community they serve and we are incredibly grateful for their support.”

To support National Friendly’s fundraising efforts with The Bristol Hippodrome, visit

Established in 1868, National Friendly specialises in private medical insurance, guaranteed life assurance, assisted living insurance, savings and investments.

It has no shareholders and exists to serve the best interests of its 33,400 members. Its head office is on Bristol’s Queen Square.

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