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Support for Africa - 30 November 2001

ENTERTAINER and passionate campaigner Patti Boulaye announces today at the House of Commons (Friday 30th November) her plan to stage a major fund-raising event, which will help her charity Support for Africa fight HIV/AIDS and Malaria.

Patti, the founder of Support for Africa 2000, is joined by many of her show business and celebrity friends including Eastenders star Kat Slater played by Jessie Wallace, recently crowned Miss World, Agbani Darego from Nigeria, psychic Uri Geller and Bianca Jagger to promote her Reaching out for Africa concert, which is to be staged at the Royal Albert Hall next March.

Sir Cliff Richard and Gabrielle, one of the UK's most successful singer/songwriters are to head up the spectacular celebrity concert, which is aimed at raising awareness and funds to build hundreds of health centres across Africa.

Reaching out for Africa is to be produced by Sir Michael Parker KCVO CBE whose impressive track record at the Royal Albert Hall includes the Royal Military Tattoo 2000, the celebrations for VE Day, VJ Day HM the Queen Mothers 100th Birthday and the Christmas spectacular "Joy to the World."

Young performers from Stagecoach Theatre Arts Schools, which operates the largest network of part-time performing arts schools in the UK are appearing at the star-studded event at the Royal Albert Hall. 1500 young people representing the network of 355 schools will join a 3,000 strong Gospel choir. Children from Stagecoach, some of who play in major films and West-End Musicals are also performing in a cameo slot at the concert, which will feature other performances headed by Sir Cliff Richard, Gabrielle, BONEY M, Uri Geller as well as other big names in show business.

Patti's highly acclaimed SUN DANCE dance and drum show plan to open the concert, which promises to be a spectacular event. Patti has already achieved a first major breakthrough in her crusade - the donation of land for centres in all 36 states in her native Nigeria after talks with the country's First Lady, Chief Mrs Stella Obasanjo, the Ministers for Health, information, women's affairs and President of the Senate. Patti wants these centres to offer health care and education in the fight against Africa's deadly double act - Malaria and AIDS.

On a recent trip to Nigeria, when Patti caught Malaria, she learned first hand of the devastation AIDS is causing in Africa where it claims over 6,000 lives a day. She said: "I asked after a man I had met in December and was told: "He's dead from AIDS so is his baby and his wife." It is just incredible. "I went to a clinic in a rural area for children either orphaned through AIDS or abandoned by their mothers. "There was a five-month-old twin who was HIV positive. The other twin had just died after catching malaria. It proved too much for his little body".

Then there was a little one-year-old boy called Victor who had full blown AIDS. His mother had abandoned him because she did not understand what was wrong with him and believed that he was possessed. She has not been seen since. "He just clung to me, wrapped himself around me. It was indescribable. The tears just came into my eyes. I was completely choked. "But in a sense Victor was lucky. He was in a clinic where they cuddled the babies. They just said that he was a baby and needed loving. "Everyday over 6,000 people including babies are dying from AIDS in Africa. "I came back more determined than ever."

Patti firmly believes that prevention is the solution to the problem of HIV/AIDS and Malaria. She said: "In order to tackle AIDS/HIV at its root cause in Africa, we must stop treating Africa as if it is a country. Africa is a vast continent with hundreds of traditions and religious beliefs, which will need to be taken into account when devising a specific AIDS campaign for each area of the country."

Support for Africa 2000 also has support from celebrities like former prime minister John Major, Michael Portillo MP, teen sensation Craig David, thriller writer Fredrick Forsyth, footballers Paul Gascoigne and Les Ferdinand, and actor Simon Callow.

Please contact John Burley Public Relations on 01629 825777 .