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His Holiness Irinej, Patriarch of Serbia lent his support for a charity opera evening which raised money to build the first in-patient hospice in Serbia.

Four bishops joined the Patriarch Irinej, who had been guests of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In attendance also were the very Revd Goran Spaic, Rector at St Sava Church in London, the Serbian Ambassador to the UK, HRH Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and individuals from the UK, Serbia, the United States, Russia, Estonia and Macedonia.  

The opera entertainment was provided by well-known baritone, Nikolai Mijailovic, accompanied by Ljubica Grubic, who flew in specially from Belgrade, and soprano, Silva McQueen, accompanied by Maya Jordan, who are based in London. There was also a surprise rendition of a Serbian song from Deacon Vladimir Rumenic, whose deep and emotional voice filled the room. M.C. for the evening was Serbian actress, Maya Barcot.

Graham Perolls, Director of Hospices of Hope, said “it was very fitting for the event to be held at Warren House, because it had such strong connections with Serbia. Lady Paget, the former owner, was a British aristocrat who devoted much of her life to the Serbian people; she established a hospital in Belgrade 100 years ago and contributed financially to both the Serbian church in London and the Serbia Club. She also turned her home into a hospital and Warren House welcomed many Serbian dissidents during the second world war. Now Hospices of Hope is trying to follow her in her footsteps by helping to establish the first hospice in Belgrade.”

Working with their Serbian partner BELhospice, Hospices of Hope has secured a house with land in Belgrade and plans are now underway to convert the property. The total target of the campaign is £950,000.  At the present time, the hospital system is under resourced and terminally ill patients often suffer unnecessary pain. Hospices of Hope has already opened two in-patient units in Romania, and these have had a dramatic impact on the care of the dying in the country.

The event was sponsored by Generali, an insurance company with a growing business in Serbia, and the evening made a profit on the night of over £ 5,000. Graham Perolls said “We are so grateful to the singers for giving up their time completely free of charge, and to all the guests who gave generously on the evening. We hope that the Serbian community in London will get behind this project and bring much needed relief to the patients in Belgrade who so desperately need hospice care. For more information about the project please visit Hospices of Hope’s website or  BELhospice’s website

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