Graham Norton to honour late transplant teenager Helen Fennell

Talk-show king and international star Graham Norton is to host a concert dedicated to a young heart transplant patient who died last Christmas.
Graham Norton to honour late transplant teenager Helen Fennell

The charity fundraiser, to be called Graham Norton and Friends — a Concert for Helen will be in memory of West Cork teenager Helen Fennell.

Her death came just eight months after receiving a heart transplant.

Graham Norton will be joined by a host of high-profile Cork-based performers and musicians for the show, including Linda Kenny, John Spillane, the Glaslinn Choir and Cork Arts Studio Youth Choir, along with some talented newcomers including Helen’s former boyfriend Eddie Ryan as well as friends Sam Hudson, Eva McCarthy and Katie Lynch.

The concert will take place in the Everyman Palace Theatre on Sunday, March 20. It aims to celebrate Helen and what her mother Elaine calls the “joyful” life of the 18-year-old from Bandon.

“Following the operation, Helen lived an action- packed eight months, including attending Graham’s show and having dinner with him in October 2014 — from which she tweeted a photo captioned “best night of my life”, her mother recalled.

Elaine has been good friends with Graham since the age of 10.

Last September, some 200 of Helen’s friends ran the Cork City Marathon in her memory.

Elaine says the idea for the concert came about after she was invited to Helen’s old primary school, Knockavilla National School last summer, to attend an event remembering her daughter.

“While I was driving to the school, I got a call from the singer Linda Kenny, a good friend married to my cousin.

“Linda asked if I’d like to do something in Cork in memory of Helen,” Elaine explains.

“When I arrived at the school, some of Helen’s friends read little poems and one girl sang a song that Helen used to like.

“It was beautiful, and I found myself thinking how lovely it would be to do something along those lines,.

“Then another of Helen’s friends said to me that her mother was in the Glaslinn Choir in Bandon, and that her mum had said that if I was doing something to remember Helen by, they’d be happy to be involved.

“I thought it was almost like a message — three things, all in the space of three hours!”

When Elaine met up with Graham Norton last summer — pals since their schooldays — she asked him about it.

“He immediately, and very warmly agreed.

“I said it would be a mixture of professional performers and talented amateurs and everyone involved would be connected to us.

“He thought that was a great idea and suggested we call it Graham Norton and Friends.”

All funds raised will be given in aid of The Mater Foundation, Cork University Hospital Charity and St Angela’s College secondary school , Cork.

  • Tickets €35/€40 are available from the Everyman Theatre box office 021-4501673 or www.everymancork.com 

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