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Zeta writes big cheque for Welsh charity

Aug 26 2005

Tryst Williams, Western Mail


CATHERINE ZETA-JONES and husband Michael Douglas are ready to make a five-figure donation to Welsh charity.

It is understood the Hollywood couple are again backing the Noah's Ark Appeal in its continuing work funding the new Children's Hospital for Wales.

And there may be further good news in store for the charity as Douglas and his Swansea-born wife take part in a celebrity golf tournament at Newport's plush Celtic Manor Resort this weekend.

Rumours were rife yesterday that the couple will name the Noah's Ark Appeal as their chosen beneficiary during the star-packed three-day event, which could net thousands of pounds more to help teenage cancer patients.

Staff at Noah's Ark remained tight-lipped when approached about the speculation yesterday.

Appeal director Suzanne Mainwaring said, "We would be unable to comment at this stage."

Zeta-Jones, 35, has a long-standing association with a host of Welsh charities.

Perhaps most notably, the mother-of-two is patron of the Noah's Ark Appeal.

Along with fellow patron Charlotte Church, 19, she took part in Ian Botham's much-praised Welsh charity walk that raised more than £1m for what has since become the nation's first children's hospital.

The facility was officially opened earlier this year on a plot at the University Hospital of Wales. But the fund-raising has continued, with fund-raisers aiming to raise £300,000 towards the £2.2m needed for a dedicated teenage cancer unit at the Cardiff site.

Teenage cancer patients in Wales have had to share wards with either adults or young children but the new facility - the nation's first of its kind - will boast DVDs, games consoles, TVs, computers, guitars and keyboards to help create a relaxed environment where teenagers can make friends and discuss their condition with others of a similar age.

This weekend's celebrity golf tournament, the idea of TV presenters Ant and Dec, will include tennis champ Boris Becker, singer Ronan Keating, and rugby star Gavin Henson.

Zeta-Jones and Douglas will be on opposing sides in the Europe versus US Ryder Cup-style team event.

It is not the first time they have taken part in a charity sporting event, with the pair regularly teeing off for the Michael Douglas and Friends golf tournament, and they have even been known to take to the piste for a spot of charity skiing.

Elliot Pill, a Cardiff-based celebrity PR expert who has previously worked with David Beckham, said, "The donation is good news all round.

"Good news for the Catherine Zeta-Jones brand. Terrific news for the Noah's Ark Appeal and excellent news for the Celtic Manor Resort as it publicises this weekend's pro-am celebrity golf tournament."

Assessing the news from a public relation perspective, he added, "The donation by Zeta- Jones helps re-build a brand and re-shape public perception which has been tarnished since the long legal fight with Hello in 2003.

"The legitimate privacy argument put forward by Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas was seen by the public as cynical and petty.

"This donation also comes at a time when 'Joe Bloggs' is becoming tired of celebrity excess and is looking for the super-rich to put something back into society.

"With the Noah's Ark Appeal, Zeta Jones has invested in a charity close to both heart and home."

Such a donation would be the second time for the couple to honour a commitment to a Welsh charity in recent weeks.

Earlier this month the actress fulfilled her promise to be at the opening of a hydrotherapy pool in Swansea for disabled adults at the Longfields Day Centre, of which she is also the patron.


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