Music

Freddie Mercury was a real NHS Christmas angel: Queen star sent Xmas dinners to hospitals

Queen perform Bohemian Rhapsody at Live Aid in 1985

Freddie’s lavish spending was notorious, whether on the exquisite works of art in his home or on flying his friends across the world to parties. He famously said, “Money may not be able to buy happiness but it can damn well give it!” But behind all the outrageous jokes and poses, the star’s friends have revealed that he also made beautiful arrangements every year to look after patients dying in hospital.

Christmas at the star’s London home, One Garden Lodge in Kensington, was always a jolly and grand affair.

Freddie’s live-in chef (and ex-boyfriend) Joe Fanelli, would create huge feasts and Freddie would invite everyone who he knew had nowhere else to go over the holidays.

Even his final Christmas in 1990 was marked with a formal dinner attended by his partner Jim Hutton, ex-girlfriend Mary Austin and German best friend Barbara Valentin.

His close friend and PA Peter Freestone, christened Phoebe by Freddie revealed the star’s generosity of spirit.

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Peter said: “It was Freddie’s tradition that any of his friends that had no family and were going to be alone, came to Garden Lodge. It was turkey on Christmas day then a baked ham on Boxing day. Tradition, tradition, tradition…”

The house would always be beautifully decorated, mainly by ex-girlfriend Mary Austin with Freddie supervising.

There were fairy lights and garlands hanging everywhere, a huge tree and tables laden with food.

Freddie’s driver and friend Gordon Dalziel remembers Christmas crackers from Tiffany stuffed with silver trinkets.

His head roadie for many years, Peter Hince, recalls being gifted with huge amounts of alcohol every year, accompanied by a personalised and cheeky card.

But Freddie was also always thinking of those far less fortunate who would be going through the hardest of times at Christmas.

Journalist and friend David Wigg said: “On every Christmas, Freddie would arrange to pay for all the meals at hospitals where people were suffering from AIDS or HIV. He would provide Christmas dinners for them, every year.”

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In the early days of the AIDS crisis, those suffering from the killer virus were often pariahs. Many were abandoned by family. Many had already lost their families when they came out as gay.

Fear of the virus or the difficulty of watching a loved one dying kept other friends away.

Freddie made sure they were looked after. His friend and famous ballet dancer Wayne Sleep said such an act was typical of the Queen star.

He added: “Freddie was always thinking about other people and about how he could bring joy to them.”

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