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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Big spender Bassey's hospital tour
Dame Shirley Bassey holding baby Leora Johns
Dame Shirley holding baby Leora Johns during her visit
Dame Shirley Bassey has been given a grand tour of the new Children's Hospital for Wales she helped to fund.

The Cardiff-born singer gave 125,000 to the project - half the cash raised in an auction of evening gowns - and a new cancer unit will be named after her.

The hospital is being built on the campus of the University Hospital of Wales, Heath, Cardiff.

It is expected to take in its first patients early next year.

Dame Shirley, aged 67, had to don builders' protective clothing as she made her trip around the almost-complete site.

When I first heard that Wales did not have its own children's hospital I simply could not believe it
Dame Shirley Bassey
Last year she decided to auction off 50 of her gowns to celebrate the 50 years in showbusiness which have given her hits like Hey Big Spender, Goldfinger and I Who Have Nothing.

The event raised 250,000 and the money was split between two of her favourite causes.

Half went to the Noah's Ark Appeal, which was set up to raise money for Wales' first children's hospital, and the rest to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, to help launch new talent onto the world stage.

Dame Shirley
The singer was impressed with the bright colours
The college has created the Dame Shirley Bassey Vocal Scholarship, which will help pay for promising post-graduates in their quest for international singing success.

The singer is one of many celebrities to support the Noah Ark Appeal. Actress Catherine Zeta Jones, former cricketer Ian Botham and singer Charlotte Church have all given their time to raise funds.

"When I first heard that Wales did not have its own children's hospital I simply could not believe it," Dame Shirley said.

"I am delighted to be able to contribute towards the first children's hospital and I truly feel that it is a most worthwhile cause.

"I would also like to congratulate the people of Wales for their magnificent generosity in raising over 6m. It really shows the true spirit and determination of this great country."

She was shown around some of the existing facilities and met patients and their parents.

She said she was particularly impressed with the bright colours which are used throughout the new hospital.

"I love the colours," she said. "Colours are very important for children."

Bassey gowns up for auction
12 Sep 03  |  Wales

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