Call the Midwife star Jenny Agutter joins Portsmouth Royal Navy charity as its newest patron
The 68-year-old, who stars as Sister Julienne in the hit BBC period drama, has been made vice-patron of the Portsmouth-based Royal Naval Benevolent Trust (RNBT).
To mark her new role with the charity, which helps naval families across the UK, Jenny took a break from her packed filming schedule to be the guest of honour at the trust’s annual presentation bash at HMS Collingwood, in Fareham.
Commander Rob Bosshardt, chief executive of the RNBT, said the support of the actress was a real coup for the charity.
He added: ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to have her on board. Having someone like Jenny with us certainly made our day.
‘She is such a bright personality and with her armed forces family background, she has complete empathy with what we’re trying to achieve as a naval charity.’
The actress already has close ties with the charity, having seen the work it does running one of its care homes in Gillingham, Kent.
During her time at the annual awards, Jenny spoke passionately about her family and their ties to the military, with her father having served in the army and mother in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.
She also helped present awards before she received her own prize and was made a vice-patron in a move Jenny said left her feeling 'surprised, delighted and honoured’.
Rob added: ‘Having someone with such eloquence and style and grace to elevate the whole day for us. It made such a difference.
‘She absolutely lit up the room. She is absolutely wonderful.’
As well as meeting the celebrity, the annual event also provided a chance for the charity to reflect on its past year – as well as focus on the next year to come.
Captain Nick Fletcher, RNBT chairman, outlined the charity’s future vision following the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
And top of the list is the completion of the charity’s new, purpose-built care home for naval veterans in Portsmouth.
The 66-bed facility, named Admiral Jellicoe House after the RNBT’s founder, is being constructed in Locksway Road, Milton, and will cost £12.6m to build.
Rob said progress on the new site was ‘going well’, with the roof set to be constructed in the coming weeks. It’s hoped the centre will be open in June,
‘We’re all on track with the project and things are going incredibly well,’ he added. ‘Our hope for the future is to continue to support the naval community reach more people. That’s the aim.’