Superspy James Bond has helped give a big boost to a hospice.
Wrexham’s Eagles Meadow was the setting for a Spectre spectacular on Tuesday evening as the Odeon cinema hosted a glittering charity gala screening of the latest 007 blockbuster.
To mark their 30th anniversary, the Pendine Park care organisation teamed up with Barclays Bank to take over a whole screen the Odeon for the dazzling event.
Instead of being asked to pay for their seats 150 film-goers, who came along in their Bond-style finery of tuxedos and evening gowns, were asked to make a donation to Wrexham’s Nightingale House.
Although the proceeds are still being calculated, organisers reckon at least £5,000 was raised on the night.
Guests made their way into the cinema past a gleaming Aston Martin supercar – Bond’s transport of choice – and had the chance to try their luck in a grand auction with 007-themed prizes, including a set of pictures signed by Sir Sean Connery who first played the M16 spy with a licence to kill.
Mario Kreft MBE, proprietor of Pendine Park, said: “The new film was exceptionally good and in particular Bond’s Aston Martin DB10 which was made especially for Spectre.
“My wife Gill and myself are both massive Bond fans so when the chance came up to take over one of the Odeon’s screens for the night for a fundraising event marking our 30th anniversary and supporting Nightingale House we just knew it had to be all about the latest film.
“Nightingale House is a real asset to the local community and I’d like to thank everyone involved in planning this fantastic event.
“I’d also like to thank everyone who came along in their evening finery, which made the Odeon look a little like a Bond film set.”
According to Paul Ffoulkes, Barclays’ corporate relationship director who played a major role in the arrangements, the evening was arranged specially to make as much money for the hospice while enjoying a feast of 007-style excitement.
He said: “Barclays have worked with Mario and Gill Kreft from Pendine for all their 30 years in business and we’re also the bank used by Nightingale House, so when it came to backing this great event we just had to be involved.
“Pendine took all 150 seats in Screen 7 – or should I say 007 – for the screening and through our contacts we encouraged people to come along and support the evening.
“We asked members of the invited audience to put in at least £20 in lieu of tickets and Barclays will be supplying match funding of up to £2,000, which means we have raised around £5,000 for the hospice, which is a fantastic local cause.
“A real highlight of the night was the grand raffle with some incredible prizes, which included a montage of Bond film pictures signed personally by Sir Sean Connery, the very first 007.
“The film itself was simply breath-taking and one of the best Bond movies yet.
“Everyone had a fantastic night and we raised a very healthy amount for Nightingale House.”
Also closely involved in planning the gala screening was Wrexham-based businessman and hospice trustee board member Paul Maddocks – known by fellow organisers as “M” after Bond’s famous MI6 controller.
He said: “I’m a massive Bond fan and have seen all of the films over the years but I’d say this was the most spectacular yet.
“It was also good to see Daniel Craig, who hails from Chester, back in the iconic role of 007.
“I’ve known Mario Kreft for many years as my gran was a resident at his Gwern Alyn home until she died at the age of 98.
“It’s great that he chose to host this very special evening to mark Pendine’s 30th anniversary and I’d like to congratulate Gill and himself on reaching this significant milestone.
“I arranged to have an Aston Martin parked outside the Odeon on the night which was kindly loaned by a friend of mine and that caused a real stir.
“As a trustee of the hospice I know it needs £7,700 a day just to exist, so it’s important that we arrange fundraising events such as this to make sure that happens.”
Odeon manager Andy Elvis said he was delighted the event went down as smoothly as one of Bond’s iconic vodka martinis.
“New Bond films always break all box office records and I’m sure Spectre has been doing phenomenal business from the word go,” he said.
“We were thrilled to make Screen 7 available for the charity gala and I’m very pleased to hear the event has made so much money for Nightingale House, which is an excellent local facility that helps so many people.
“It’s been great to work with Mario from Pendine and the guys from Barclays and the hospice in putting this evening together.”
Among guests at the gala was a party from Chester-based car sales firm, Graham Walker Ltd.
Boss Graham Walker said: “The film was simply fantastic. It was a great way to spend an evening and to raise money for a very worthwhile cause.”
Richard Griffith from container hire and leasing firm B4B on the Wrexham Industrial Estate was there with his wife Karen.
He said: “I reckon the film was the best Bond film to date and was packed with some amazing special effects.
“We’ve had a great evening and I’m glad we’ve been able to support Nightingale House is such a novel way.”
Wearing his smart white tuxedo was Robert Butcher from Wrexham who was at the gala with his wife Annette.
Robert said: “I just had to dress properly for the evening, which has been just brilliant just like the film. It was the most breath-taking Bond I’ve ever seen.
“I’m glad to hear that thousands of pounds have been raised for Nightingale House.”
Sam Eastwood, area fundraiser for Nightingale House, said: “Spectre is Bond at his very best and the film is going to be a smash hit.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to Mario for celebrating Pendine’s 30th anniversary in such a spectacular way and to the people from Barclays and Paul Maddocks for putting the whole evening together.
It was certainly a memorable way to raise money for the hospice.”
She added: “Nightingale House needs £2.8m to keep running this year and as we receive only limited funding from statutory sources, we need to raise £2.2m of this amount ourselves.
“That’s why events such as this are so vitally important.”
In Spectre, which had its world premiere at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Monday, when MI6’s forensics department releases Bond’s personal effects recovered from Skyfall, a cryptic message starts him on a path to a confrontation with the sinister, shadowy organisation ‘SPECTRE’.
While the newly-appointed M fights political pressure on the Secret Service following the destruction of its headquarters, a ghost from Bond’s past returns to haunt him.
Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris return for Bond’s 24th adventure, and the film also introduces Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux to 007’s action-packed world.