The long-awaited tribute gala for our friend and supporter, the late, great Frank Carson, brought a galaxy of celebrities to the stage of the Grand Opera House in Belfast on 28th February.
The show, marking a year after Frank Carson’s passing, raised funds for two charities dear to Frank Carson’s heart: the Integrated Education Fund and CLIC Sargent Homes from Home Appeal.
Stars of stage, screen and sport paid tribute to the legendary local funny-man with speech and song, bringing laughter, tears and memories to Frank’s family and to hundreds of fans in the audience. The show opened with Flash Harry singing The Show Must Go On and included footage of Frank Carson’s TV career. Joe McElderry gave a moving performance of Dance with my Father Again, whilst Leila Webster sang Send in The Clowns and Rose-Marie performed the finale, Fool on the Hill.
Sports stars such as Barry McGuigan and Denis Taylor paid tribute, as did IEF Campaign Chair Baroness May Blood and actor and director Adrian Dunbar who also sang with Brian Kennedy. Many performers spoke of Frank Carson’s commitment to integrated education and his passionate support for causes which were important to him.
Franks’ children wanted to honour their father’s humour and his humanity in an appropriate memorial event. Frank’s son Tony says “We’ve been working for months on a true celebration of Da’s life and his spirit in the city he loved. It’s a tribute to his standing at home and abroad that so many performers have come forward wanting to join us and to help two charities which have become so important to the whole family. The result was moving but also great fun. Da would have loved every minute…”
Major donors to the two charities – the Integrated Education Fund and CLIC Sargent – enjoyed a drinks reception before the show began, and afterwards attended a party with the stars of the night, held at the nearby Europa hotel. The show was produced by Ian Dougan.