Celebrity chefs to help raise £150k for brain microscope for St George’s Hospital in Tooting

Celebrity chefs and TV mainstay Christopher Biggins are looking to help raise £150,000 for a hospital’s brain microscope in memory of a late renowned cook who was treated there.

They are to stage Gala in Your Parlour on Saturday, October 17 to raise much-needed funds to buy the vital machine for paediatric and adult neurosurgery which is not funded by the NHS.

It will help senior neurosurgeons from the Atkinson Morley Wing at St George’s Hospital Trust in Tooting, where chef John King was treated until his death in 2016.

The wing’s wards and theatres were converted to handle Covid-19 patients at the height of the pandemic – although the hospital’s roof garden, renovated in John’s memory, became a cherished peaceful haven for the hard-pressed staff.

Now neurosurgeon Tim Jones and his team are working 24-hour days to clear the backlog of patients who desperately need their expertise.

But the £150,000 surgical microscope, bought in John’s memory last year, is in such demand in their four theatres that they urgently need another.

The fundraising gala will feature food delivered to the doors of participants, cooked by  Michelin-starred John Williams MBE and Brian Turner CBE.

There will also be entertainment, a silent auction, and a live auction hosted by Christopher Biggins, who will auction an array of money-can’t-buy experiences.

Wandsworth’s Pop up Star executive chef Jimmy Garcia and his team will deliver bespoke boxes of four courses – on the night, they will need only finishing flourishes in the recipients’ kitchen. The box will also have a treasure trove of other gourmet goodies.

Funds raised from this event will push the John King Brain Tumour Foundation to its £150,000 target for the new microscope.

Lockdown forced the foundation to scrap its annual charity golf day and gala dinner – its major sources of annual fundraising – for this year.

His widow, Laura, said: “We are delighted to be hosting our first-ever Virtual Fundraising Gala event, Gala in Your Parlour.

“This new microscope will not only help adults and children with brain tumours, but also will be used for other paediatric and adult neurosurgery including spinal cord surgery, repairing ruptured blood vessels in the brain, repair of spinal bifida in children, trauma, deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s and many other conditions.

“John sadly passed away in 2016 after an incredibly brave and dignified fight against his illness.

“John was a much-loved chef with an international reputation, and we want the foundation and its mission to be a lasting legacy for such a wonderful man.

“We are agonisingly close to being able to do that.”

Pictured top: Tim Jones and Henry Marsh CBE, with trustees Laura King , Holly King and Andrew Sharland


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