Star power

Godalming chapel and the Emir of Dubai (collage)Image copyright
Google / BBC

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Sheikh Mohammed stepped in to help villagers in Godolphin Cross

Residents in Godolphin Cross in Cornwall were left stunned when the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, stepped in to help the village buy its Methodist chapel. But it’s not the first time a big name has got behind a project to save a building or facility treasured by the local community. BBC News looks at other acts of generosity made by the rich and famous.


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Getty / D Dipasupil / Stringer

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Sting at a benefit concert for global equality in New York

In charity terms, the pop superstar is perhaps best known as a guardian of Brazil’s threatened rainforests – or, in one memorable episode of The Simpsons, as the leading light of the charity record We’re Sending Our Love Down the Well – but there are more strings to Sting’s bow than this.

The big-hearted singer-songwriter couldn’t stand idly by when his help was needed by lido lovers in his native north-east England.

When a community group launched plans to restore Tynemouth Outdoor Pool to its former glory, Sting dived in to lend a hand.

The musician, originally from nearby Wallsend, was among those to pledge a financial contribution to the Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool.

The campaign to restore the derelict lido has so far raised hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool

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An artist’s impression of what the restored pool would look like

Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellen

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Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

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Stephen Fry is said to have coined the affectionate nickname of “Serena” for Sir Ian McKellen

The stars, who have spoken out repeatedly on the issue of gay rights, are also no strangers to doing their bit to help others.

So when Southampton pub The Hobbit was threatened with legal action by Hollywood firm the Saul Zaentz Company for alleged copyright infringement, it was perhaps no surprise that the thespian twosome dug into their own pockets.

The pair, who both appeared in the second of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, coughed up the cash to pay a copyright licence fee so the pub could continue trading under that name.

Both actors had criticised the film company’s action, with Sir Ian, who played Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings films, describing its actions as “unnecessary pettiness”.

At the time the landlady Stella Roberts said she was “very shocked” by the pair’s offer.

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Phillip Schofield

The silver-haired star has earned a reputation as TV’s Mr Nice Guy during a career that’s spanned more than 30 years.

So it was in character when the unflappable sofa-dweller answered the call to save a building he had played in as a child.

Huer’s Hut, on Towan Head in Newquay, was built in the 19th Century as a shelter for fish-spotters called huers.

In 2013 Schofield, who grew up in the Cornish resort, took to Facebook to film a video voicing his support for the restoration project, saying he was “right behind the campaign” to save it. He reportedly donated £8,000 of his own money.

The revamp of the landmark was completed at a cost of £30,000 in 2015.

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Phillip Schofield has been a presenter on This Morning since 2002

Ed Sheeran

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Ed Sheeran headlined the closing night of last weekend’s Glastonbury Festival

As well as being arguably the most ubiquitous figure in contemporary British culture, Edward Christopher Sheeran is also known as one of pop’s good guys.

It’s safe to say that at no stage in his extraordinarily successful career has he ever dabbled with bad boy status – Keith Moon or Iggy Pop this is not – with the community-spirited strummer even doing his bit for road safety in his Suffolk hometown after one of his lyrics prompted a safety warning from police.

So when the call for help came from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, the flame-haired troubadour was only too happy to do his bit.

Clothes donated by the star raised thousands of pounds for a £10m appeal to build a new hospice in Norfolk, one of many efforts he has made on behalf of those less fortunate than himself.

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