National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome join forces to fund Long-Covid research


Imagine waking up every day, feeling breathlessness, fatigued, muscle aches and not being able to remember much from the previous week. You call your doctor, who understands, but has no treatment to help you. This is the reality for hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering from Long-Covid.

Working together with Southmead Hospital’s official charity, Southmead Hospital Charity, National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome are embarking on a fundraising appeal which aims to raise £30,000 to support the Long-Covid research now taking place at the hospital.

The research, known as DISCOVER study, has recruited over 300 patients hospitalised with Covid-19 since March 2020. It was the first UK cohort published, meaning this is the group that has been studied for the longest time.

Right now, a team of renowned researchers from Southmead Hospital is working hard to find out more about Covid-19 and its long-term effects. Renowned for world-leading research through its specialist Research & Innovation Centre, each year 7,000 patients take part in over 500 research studies, with some made possible thanks to the donations of community partners like National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome. 

Kurtis Reece, National Friendly’s PR & Strategic Partnerships Executive explained why they are backing the efforts to understand more about the virus. “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.”

“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.”

National Friendly is the lead sponsor for The Bristol Hippodrome’s innovative Matinee Mingle aimed at the over 60s and their 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 fundraising campaign, across a 12-week period which will begin on the 9th November 2021 and will end on the 12th February 2022.

For audiences, the fundraising will start with Heather’s The Musical followed by a number of performances including Riverdance - The New 25th Anniversary Show and the West End & Broadway Hit Musical Hairspray. It will continue at the annual pantomime, Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs starring Lesley Joseph, Rob Rinder and Andy Ford. It will also include the first UK Tour of the West End blockbuster Dreamgirls and will continue throughout the following performances:’ Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker, Ronan Keating Twenty Twenty and Waitress – theatre goers will be able to donate to the Southmead Hospital research through contactless devices within the theatre.

National Friendly is also running an exclusive online competition with The Bristol Hippodrome, which will see five family tickets go up for grabs for the pantomime performance, which will be used as part of a social media campaign.

Ben Phillips, The Bristol Hippodrome’s Theatre Director, 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.“

Adrian Brown, Southmead Hospital Charity’s Community & Events Manager 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 of Long-Covid 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

National Friendly is a trading name of National Deposit Friendly Society Limited. Registered office: 11-12 Queen Square, Bristol BS1 4NT. Registered in England and Wales no. 369F. National Deposit Friendly Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Our Financial Services Register number is 110008. You can check this at: National Deposit Friendly Society Limited is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Ombudsman Service.