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Cherie Blair makes a visit home to Merseyside

Louise Allain, 8th November 2013

Cherie Blair makes a visit home to Merseyside

Pat Murphy (Director of Fundraising for Jospice) with Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair makes a visit home to Merseyside

Cherie is interviewed by LJMU's Journalism Students

Cherie Blair makes a visit home to Merseyside

JMU's students listen attentively to Cherie answering their questions

Lunch at the Panoramic saw Cherie meet up with familiar Liverpudlian faces, such as Brian Gilda, chairman of Ford People's Garage, Herbert Howe, local hairdresser and TV celebrity and Radio Presenter Peter Price.

With the morning's rain showing no sign of abating, Cherie Blair arrived at Liverpool's Panoramic 34 restaurant on Wednesday 6th November, to be ushered to it's elevated situation at the top of an illustrious, private apartment block, where she met with old friend and charity associate, Pat Murphy (Director of Fundraising & Communications at the Thornton branch of Jospice) and a host of local celebrities and dignitaries.

Cherie, though now a Vice President of the charity, has long been affiliated with Jospice‎ and as a school girl helped raise money for Jospice's founder, Father Francis O'Leary, who set up the first hospice in India. The Charity now has several overseas hospices, as well as a UK branch of Jospice in Thornton, north of Liverpool.

Lunch at the Panoramic saw Cherie meet up with familiar Liverpudlian faces, such as Brian Gilda, chairman of Ford People's Garage, Herbert Howe, local hairdresser and TV celebrity and Radio Presenter Peter Price. While diners enjoyed a beautifully garnished chicken, Cherie spoke passionately about Jospice's ongoing need for funds to help with current refurbishing of the Thortonhttp://www.cherieblair.org/highlights/ hospice. The overcapacity audience gave donations and took part in a post lunch raffle which raised the generous total of £9,000 towards the restoration project. It is hoped that the refurbishment can be completed in time for Jospice's 40th Anniversary, next year.

It was difficult pulling Cherie away from the lovely aura and good will of the luncheon, but she had an appointment next at another familiar venue, Liverpool's John Moore University (LJMU). On hand to meet her at one of the University's many sites, was the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill, who, along with other members of the faculty, took time to chat and update Cherie, as Chancellor Emeritus, with the news about LJMU's latest intake and it's continued wish to engage on a more global level with other educational institutions around the world.

After some interesting discussions, Cherie met LJMU's journalism students, who were keen to interview her for the purpose of their website. So with swift enthusiasm, a microphone was suddenly in place, and the former PM's wife sat solo in a studio in front of some very impressive cameras - operated by extremely competent students. She happily answered some very interesting questions. They inquired about Cherie's views on relations with China, tuition fees, how it felt to be the first Mother to raise a child in 10 Downing Street, and one student Paddy Arnold, quickly deviating with 'Do you support the blues or the reds?'

The journalism students and the law students, who Cherie also spent some time with, are housed in the impressive Redmonds Building. Named after the creators of Brookside, the new building which cost £37.6 million to build, is a new acquisition for LJMU. Cherie was given a brief tour and told about the facilities such as the three large lecture theatres and the School of Law's Moot Room and video rooms, not to mention the Sony equipped studios where she had been interviewed earlier.

"It has a very special place in my heart. When I come back here I know this is where I come from and why I like to be associated with places like Liverpool John Moore's", Cherie told the LJMU's students. Though only fleeting, it was a very successful and very memorable afternoon revisiting Cherie's home turf.