Express & Star

Acorns Children's Hospice pays tribute to its passionate patron and supporter Benjamin Zephaniah

Acorns Children's Hospice has paid tribute to one of their most high profile supporters Benjamin Zephaniah who died last night.

Benjamin speaking at the Acorns event in September

The popular Handsworth poet and author regularly visited Acorns hospices and campaigned to keep the Walsall hospice open when threatened with closure. One of his final public appearances was at a fundraiser for the charity, which he was enjoyed being its patron.

Mr Zephaniah appeared alongside Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, who hired Benjamin to be in the cast of the hit BBC series, at Birmingham Symphony Hall September 26.

Shortly afterwards Mr Zephaniah was diagnosed with a brain tumour which would eventually claim his life last night aged 65. The poet campaigned passionately for the Acorns Hospice in Walsall to remain open when it was under threat of closure due to financial pressures.

Acorns posted a tribute to the popular musician and children's author on its Facebook page this afternoon along with pictures of his various visits in recent years (Thursday).

The charity said: "We are saddened to hear the news today that our Patron, Benjamin Zephaniah has passed away.

Benjamin Zephania and Steven Knight at Acorns in Selly Oak

"Benjamin was a beloved friend to Acorns and we have many wonderful memories of his visits to our hospices, which were always filled with smiles and laughter.

"Everyone at Acorns will miss him deeply and our thoughts are with all his friends and family at this time."

Acorns staff member Melanie Hinds remembered Benjamin's visit to Selly Oak fondly.

She said: " I had the absolute pleasure of working with him and the children when he visited Selly Oak, he was so gentle in his manner and captivating with his voice, speaking to the children about stories, storytelling and how to write your own, a huge talent and big loss."

Noel Cramer, Acorns Director of Supporter Engagement, praised the support Benjamin gave Acorns after the September fundraiser.

He said: “We are so grateful to this titan of modern culture for taking the time to share his wonderful stories and insights at this unique event.

“As a charity, we rely on the goodwill and support of our local community, so the ongoing support of Steven and Benjamin, and their work helping to raise awareness of our cause, cannot be underestimated.

“It was a great privilege to hear directly from these two creative collaborators and a real treat for the valued friends and supporters of Acorns in the audience – without whom we simply wouldn’t be able to provide the vital care we do to local children and their families.”

Acorns provide support for 700 children with life limiting illnesses in the West Midlands and Gloucestershire.

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