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Manchester poet Tony Walsh performs tribute to youngsters's hospital

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The performance poet Tony Walsh, whose ode to Manchester became a worldwide hit after the Arena bomb, has written a moving tribute to Royal Manchester children’s hospital to mark a decade since it opened.

The poem, called Every Child Counts, is performed by Walsh in a 10-minute film to raise money for a charity run by the hospital, which is the biggest and busiest children’s hospital in the UK.

The film, which is being shown for the first time on Thursday, took several months to produce and features cameos by staff, parents and several young patients – “angels of the ward”.

The poem begins: “At the heart of this great city, sitting yards from Oxford Road/ is a place that shows the spirit this city’s always showed.

“A place of science, innovation, thriving drive and pride and unity/ a cutting edge collective at the core of this community. A place of brilliance, resilience, yet asking now where is it?/ A place you’d travel half the world for, but you hope you’ll never visit.”

Walsh, who goes by the stage name Longfella, had been performing his poetry for 10 years before his powerful ode to Manchester was televised live to the world from Albert Square in the city, 24 hours after the Arena attack.

Walsh, who himself overcame serious childhood illness, said: “It was a great honour to write and perform a piece for Royal Manchester children’s hospital and it felt like one of the most important things I’ve ever done.

“Over the months I met with families and staff and there were so many moving stories to inspire me as well as the huge sense of pride in the lifesaving work at the hospital.”

The specially commissioned film is to raise money for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital charity, which supports the families of the more than 276,000 young patients admitted to the hospital every year.

Sarah Naismith, the charity’s director, said: “When we looked back over our 10 years it made us appreciate more than ever the vital work and the number of lives the hospital has touched. Tony, with his talent and personal connection, felt like the perfect partner to tell our story to the world.”

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